2016 Mazda CX-9: Monthly Update for April 2017
by Brent Romans, Senior Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Due to some logistical requirements here at Edmunds, I was the sole driver of our long-term 2016 Mazda CX-9 for all of April. From the standpoint of getting to learn how the CX-9 performs common crossover SUV duties, it was ideal. I took my kids to school every morning, went grocery shopping, hauled booty home from Costco and Home Depot, and even took my family of five on a 700-mile road trip.
Granted, it's not the most exciting stuff to do with a car. (And yeah, by extension, my life probably isn't very exciting.) But I came away knowing the CX-9 is more than just a workhorse. It looks cool, has a premium interior and drives with verve for a three-row crossover.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
My month of driving totaled almost 1,900 miles, and a lot of that came on the highway. My average for the month was 23 mpg, which is what the EPA says to expect in combined driving. We're now at 22 mpg lifetime. That's respectable for an Edmunds long-term car, but I wonder whether it will stay like that since a high percentage of our CX-9's mileage so far has come from highway driving.
Average lifetime mpg: 22.0
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (21 city/26 highway)
Best fill mpg: 26.7
Best range: 461.4 miles
Current odometer: 11,285 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
The warning light for the CX-9's tire-pressure monitoring system illuminated at one point during the month of April. The system does not provide you with specific tire pressure info or an indicator for which tire is low. At the time, I was on my way home and driving along a major city street. Since there didn't seem to be any obvious signals of tire failure or a complete flat, I kept driving the 5 or so more miles until I got home. Once there, I used a tire pressure gauge to check the tires. The right front tire was low (about 28 psi versus 34 for the other tires). I also found the culprit: a nail in the tire's tread. I pumped up the tire back to spec and drove over to a local tire shop. They patched it for me in about an hour. Total cost: $20.
Note: Since I was the primary CX-9 driver in April, all of the following entries, unless specifically attributed, are from me.
"A four-cylinder engine in a big three-row crossover? For a lot of people, that might sound like a recipe for pokey acceleration. But the CX-9's turbocharged mill has enough power to satisfy. There's no lag or softness at low rpm when you first accelerate from a stop. Mash the gas for a highway entrance ramp and the CX-9 gets up to 60 or 70 mph respectably well. True, our acceleration testing shows that the CX-9 is ultimately a bit slower than the Honda Pilot and some other big crossovers with V6s. And maybe that slowness would be more pronounced if you're towing a trailer. But for normal driving, the CX-9's turbo-four is powerful enough for my needs."
"I like Mazda's design feel for the CX-9's steering, gearshifter, and gas and brake pedals. They are responsive and provide a consistent level of effort. Mazda markets the CX-9 as 'meticulously crafted for drivers' and there's substance to that. This isn't a performance SUV, but it is an SUV you'll enjoy driving."
"I've noticed that our CX-9's infotainment system will randomly restart while I'm driving. It's happened a few times in the past three weeks of driving. I'll be driving along and all of the sudden the whole thing reboots. If I'm listening to digital music, that shuts off as well until the system's back online. It's annoying. One would hope Mazda has a software fix/update for this."
"Our CX-9 Grand Touring has the upgraded Bose sound system with 12 speakers. It's fine, but I'd expect to feel more immersed in my music with a premium system. As it is, it sounds like everything comes from the specific front speaker locations, and playing around with the balance and fade doesn't help. Audio quality seems closer to what I'd expect from a nice regular system, not something branded and with 12 speakers."
"Our CX-9 has a feature for the second-row seat that I think parents of young children will appreciate. The right side of the Mazda's 60/40-split seat (the smaller 40) has a special function that allows you to move the seat forward to provide access to the third-row seat even if you have a child safety seat installed. Normal operation is that the seatback tilts forward and then the seat slides. An installed safety seat can hinder this. In the CX-9, though, the special operation allows the whole seat to tilt up a bit and then slide forward. The 'walk-through' space isn't quite as big compared to the normal operation because the seatback isn't tilted forward as much, but it's a lot better than not being able to move the seat at all."
"I was spending time with my in-laws for the Easter holiday and the whole gang was heading out to eat out for dinner. My mother-in-law thought we were going to need two cars to get there until I pointed out that the long-term CX-9 I was driving seats seven. You might not need the extra seating every day but it's convenient to have when the occasions do come up. My two young children sat in the third row, my wife and mother-in-law took the second row (along with the teenage foreign exchange student living with us), and my father-in-law sat up front. It worked out great."
"I'm 6-foot-2 and I often adopt a wide-set stance with my legs while I'm driving. This typically involves resting one knee against the center console and one against the door. In the Mazda CX-9, there's a nice empty space to the left of the brake pedal, so I can shove my foot in there and relax it without bracing my knee against the door. On the other hand, my right knee hits the hard plastic trim that surrounds the shifter. My knee constantly raps against it on bumpy roads, of which there are many in the L.A. metro area. There's a softer piece of plastic underneath the hard trim, and maybe it'd be helpful for a shorter driver. But for me, not so much." — Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor
"I've driven our CX-9 more than 1,000 miles in the last two weeks and it has impressed me with its easygoing demeanor. The CX-9 rides smoothly (even with our Grand Touring's big 20-inch wheels), is impressively quiet at highway speeds and has front seats that are comfortable for hours at a time. Between Dan Edmunds' two previous trips to Oregon in our CX-9 and my recent stint, I think we've validated the CX-9's long-haul credentials."
"There's enough room in our CX-9's third-row seat for a typical adult. Like most three-row crossovers, it's not a place you'd want to spend hours at a time. But with the driver seat positioned for me (I'm 5-foot-10) and the sliding second row set in what I'd consider a typical position, there is enough legroom and headroom for me to sit in the third row without being cramped."
"The CX-9's cargo area behind the second-row seats is unremarkable by three-row crossover SUV standards. On the spec sheet, Mazda lists 38.2 cubic feet. For comparison, GMC claims 41.7 cubic feet for the Acadia and Honda says 46.8 cubic feet for the Pilot. Some of the Mazda's deficiency might stem from its more steeply raked rear window."
"I like the look of the new-generation Mazda CX-9. Particularly in front, the sharp styling lines and pronounced grille help Mazda's three-row crossover stand out, particularly in comparison to the conservatively styled Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. While you're ultimately buying a big crossover for its utility and versatility, the CX-9 has some desirable flair to go along with it."