I used to have a Volvo XC90 (for 10 years) but when it came time to replace, I needed to expand my horizons due to cost. A friend owns and loves the Mazda CX-9, so I took a test drive. My SO fell in love immediately. It took a little longer for me to come around, but for a turbo engine the car really moves. It has great styling (everyone around my office has complimented me) and the interior is beautifully crafted. The drivers seat is a little smaller than my previous SUV, and the actual cargo room is practically nil (without folding down the third row) but I love that the second row reclines and shifts in 2 pieces, making it very adaptable for my family. Gas mileage to date appears to be in range, although lower than I originally projected/anticipated. Overall I'm pleased with my purchase.
I recently got to spend a week driving the new 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature Edition. Initially I didn't have high hopes. You see, I'm a sports car guy. The CX-9 is an SUV and we all know how well SUV's handle, right? However, I decided to approach it with an open mind and hoped some redeeming quality would pique my interest. The exterior was surprisingly attractive - not your typical slab-sided SUV or "look-at-my-cray-cray-design" crossover. Instead, it was an elegantly styled SUV body with very artistic details. Overall, I'd call it "wind-sculpted." Throughout the week, I found myself looking at other SUV drivers with pity, wondering how they could stand driving those bland boxes when something this smart looking was available. And as much as I liked the exterior, the interior was even MORE attractive: black carpeting, auburn red leather seats, piano black panels, chrome bits for accent, and rosewood switch bezels on the doors. It has to be the most beautiful and inviting interior I've ever been in. It's the kind of interior that makes you want to stay just a bit longer. When I was informed that it only had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, I immediately expected that it was going to be underpowered but Mazda's SkyActiv technology that they keep touting is evidently a real thing and not just a marketing ploy because the CX-9 never really felt underpowered to me. Sure, it wasn't going to win any drag races but it was quick to reach the speed limit and once at speed, it offered plenty of power for passing and overtaking. But what really amazed me and changed my mind about the CX-9 was the handling. After driving around for a few days, getting comfortable with it, I got a little bored and decided to push it a little down some backroads near my house that had a nice mix of curves and hills. Selecting "Sport" mode on the center console, I got kind of aggressive with it and drove it more like a sports car. And the CX-9 never batted an eye. It gracefully glided through the curves like no SUV I've ever driven. The engine and transmission were responsive to my driving style, helping me get the most out of the car, and when I needed to slow down fast, the anti-lock brakes did a superb job of controllably and confidently slowing it down. I've always known Mazda for the Miata, but it appears that even their more pedestrian people movers have that same sporting DNA that people who love to drive look for. On top of that, Mazda loaded the CX-9 with a raft of safety technology to keep you in your lane, warn you of blind spot drivers and cross traffic as you back up in parking lots, and many other things. When the week was up, I was thoroughly impressed with this vehicle and I know that if I ever need an SUV, Mazda will be the first (and probably ONLY) brand I look at. The only thing I could have wanted on the car would be paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It would have made it even more fun to drive and a little less SUV-ish. Still, overall, it's a winner. Very nicely done, Mazda. Very nicely done.
There are lots of good competitors of the CX-9, but the looks, stance, and workmanship of the mazda cx-9 signature is special. Much detail given to interior detail, very advanced safety features, IIHS top safety pick+, good accelaration, yet competitive gas mileage. Very fun to drive. This is my first mazda and I am Looking forward to driving it for years to come!
We looked hard at lot of SUV's and cross-overs before settling and I really wish we could take what each did well and combine it, but you have to sacrifice. What won out is the drivability of the Mazda. It is just plain fun to drive. Keep in mind that this is a Signature Review and really only applies to that model. The AWD is better than my past Honda Pilot and I was very comfortable driving in the snow and felt in control. The traction with the factory tires was better than I expected on icy hills. Electronic steering is comfortable at all speeds and passenger comfort is great, even for short trips in the third row were on par with the Pilot with neither being very comfortable. We get an average of 25 MPG highway @ 70-75 MPH. 65-70 will increase and overall average has stayed right at 23 MPG with mixed driving. The little turbo 4 always feels in control. Good smooth acceleration and the transmission mating is one of the best I have driven in a long time as the two are paired very well. Towing a 2500 pound trailer was super easy and other than the rear end of the car sagging a lot, it never felt like it was lugging the motor, there was always plenty left and the transmission shifted very normally. Not quite a diesel with torque, but pretty impressive nonetheless. Gas mileage went way down while towing as 500 miles at ~70-75 MPH we saw 10-12 MPG. Though we are told there should be an increase, I did not see much difference between low and high octane gas. Things I don't like - Navigation. It is not terrible, but no where near on par with other brands, and even Mitsubishi and Toyota have better navigation. There was traffic that is greyed out, but Mazda did not continue the deal with the provider, so that is not available, and we really miss that. No weather at all, not even the HD over the air weather. Miss that even on Toyota. I don't even mind paying for it with XM like Ford, but that is not even an option. There is a limited traffic city map, but it is worthless. The controls for the radio are not great either. I would like to have seen them have multiple memory configurations. I don't like having to go through all of my wife's stations just as much as she does not like to go through mine. There is also not a mode to just scan through stations on XM or Radio or get to saved music easily. You have to scroll to the right place and make the adjustment. It also takes upwards to 30-40 seconds to boot the navigation the first time. That is a long time to sit before even being able to enter the address for your destination. There are not enough outlets for today's requirements. We have had to purchase an extension from the back to the mid seats for the kids. Also, no inverter that is standard on most cars today. The one cig light plug up front gets in the way of the passenger as it is on the side. This is required to run a higher amperage plug to your phone if you plan on using anything like Waze as the built-in USB are too low amperage. Seats are comfortable, but very little control. There is no tilting, which is handy for taller people and even though electric, you only have up and down and forward and back with only lumbar and memory for the driver. Why Mazda? You are trying to hit the luxury market, but completely missed the boat on this one. For 45K, I expect a minimum of tilt, and memory for the mirrors and seats. I would have paid for that option. Lane keep is OK, adaptive headlights on the signature are great, and the radar cruise control is right on the money. On the highway, my cruise control is almost always on, and it has been tested more than once with people merging into my lane and the system having to brake hard for them. Bose sound is good, but not great. The noise canceling does make a big difference in the road noise heard in the Signature and lower models without it - a bit quieter. Signature road noise is on par with the Lincoln and far better than the Grand Cherokee we drove for a week. Car feels as solid as any of the higher end luxury brands and the leather and trim seem to be on par as well. Other than the color, I could not tell the difference in the napa leather, so can't say that is a marketing ploy or not. Moonroof is nothing to write home about and oddly Mazda is not keeping up with the competition there. A few small items and Mazda would have hit it out of the park on this vehicle and if it holds up as well as my past Mazda, I will be happy. Did I say how much fun the car is to drive? I am not sure it is a luxury substitute and part of the market segment Mazda is trying to hit with the model to compete with the high end general manufactures, and I think they are behind on the technology and general appeal, but they hit the mark on the engine and drivetrain and after 10K miles, I am still happy.
If you're after a quiet ride, this is it. As road surfaces continue to deteriorate, a quiet ride is difficult to achieve. With this vehicle Mazda has succeeded in achieving quiet. At 70mph on a lousy highway surface it's possible to have a normal conversation within the vehicle. That's what won me over.