2016 Mazda CX-9: Monthly Update for September 2017
by Will Kaufman, Associate Staff Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
In spite of adding only about 550 miles in September, our 2016 Mazda CX-9 passed the 20,000-mile mark and we find we're mostly still smitten with the cheerful gray whale. Some quibbles aside, after road trips, commutes, inclement weather, light off-roading, and 63 tanks of gas, we still think the CX-9 is a great SUV.
To celebrate this milestone, I've gone through the record of our first 20,000 miles with the CX-9 and cherry-picked a few of this SUV's greatest hits. It's clear our Mazda impressed from the very beginning. Don't worry: I've left out all the mentions of our blue jeans rubbing off on the light upholstery. This is a celebration, so we won't revisit all 6,000 words of that.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The CX-9 traveled just 550 miles in September and managed to hit an all-time monthly low for fuel economy, averaging just 16 mpg over that distance. We did avoid hitting a new single-tank low, though. Our worst fill of the long-term test (potentially attributable to yours truly) still stands at 15.2 mpg from a tank recorded back in March.
September's poor returns pushed our lifetime economy down to 21.1 mpg, down 0.2 from the month before. Considering the majority of our long-term vehicle's miles are spent in L.A. traffic, a three-row SUV maintaining an average better than 21 mpg is pretty impressive.
Average lifetime mpg: 21.1 mpg
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (21 city/26 highway)
Best fill mpg: 26.7
Best range: 461.4 miles
Current odometer: 20,171
Maintenance and Upkeep
"This thing handles great. It feels light on its feet, and the steering is pretty spot-on in terms of feel and feedback. The 20-inch rubber on our Grand Touring seems much more absorbent than the 20-inch tires that were fitted to the last generation. Not only is the ride better than I remember from the last generation, the cornering grip feels more secure on uneven surfaces." (December 2016) — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"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." (April 2017) — Brent Romans, senior editor
"It's worth noting that as many times as we have mentioned the blue from our jeans rubbing off on the light upholstery, the seats don't seem to stay distinctly blue very long, although they definitely look dirty. We'll try cleaning them with a Popular Brand product and report back." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
"'Wow,' my passenger said, unprompted. 'Mazda went luxury with this thing, eh?' Why, yes, it did, or at least that was the idea. But you never know until the real-world reactions come in. In this case, I think my passenger's right: Mazda has imbued the CX-9 with a genuinely upscale feel. Is it as nice as an Acura MDX? My advice to crossover shoppers would be to drive both and see what you think." (June 2017) — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"From the very beginning, we've praised the CX-9's infotainment system for its ease of use but bemoaned the lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Mazda promised back in March that one day it would add smartphone integration in a system update, but we're still waiting. Of course, having recently used Android Auto in an Acura with a rotary knob interface, I'm not sure how happy we'll be when we eventually get it." — Will Kaufman
"If I were deciding between three-row family haulers, it would be a hard choice because everything on the market now is just so good. When just about everything is solid, sometimes a small thing like a butt-kicking stereo can be the tiebreaker. I'm a sucker for a hearty audio system and this thing delivers." (June 2017) — Matt Jones, senior consumer advice editor
"We loaded four suitcases and two of those flip-top storage boxes behind the second row and then piled in our coats and a couple of backpacks. And there are numerous other gifts hidden in an underfloor compartment. The numbers suggest there is less cargo space than the last generation, but it doesn't feel like it." (December 2016) — Dan Edmunds
"My earliest impressions of the CX-9 were that it was very Audi-esque, as if it delivered Audi quality at a Mazda price. In one sense, that was a bit worrying. Mazda has been eyeballing a more premium middle ground in its respective segments, upgrading the luxury feel of its cars with an attendant price increase to match, much like Volkswagen's earlier strategies. But I don't want a more expensive Mazda!
"That said, with more time in this car, you can see where the materials quality isn't quite up to Audi scratch. You've got this chrome trim inlay in the front, and you run your finger over it and it's plastic. But it's nice and it looks good, and there's a similar ring around the vents. If this were an Audi, that surround might be a nice brushed metal. Same goes for the CX-9's door panels and door pulls. And our light-colored seats are showing some wear already at less than 20,000 miles, although it's probably redeemable if we spend a little time conditioning the material.
"You can see and feel where the Audi stuff is snazzier, but that's not a knock on the CX-9. It's just a matter of degree. I still say this is the most affordable Audi Q7 you can buy." — Dan Frio, staff writer