Still a looker, still great to drive, and slightly improved.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2019 Mazda CX-9
Base price (Signature trim): $51,500
Options: $300 Machine Grey Metallic paint
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $53,795
A very slight refresh heads the CX-9’s way for 2019. Not making major changes that will turn heads, Mazda instead focused on refining an already fantastic vehicle.
In my opinion, the CX-9 is the best-looking SUV in its class. I love the design language from front to back. LED headlights and signature driving lights flank a very noticeable grille with a cool illumination strip accenting its lines in the dark.
The wheel wells are filled with monster 20-inch rims shod with big 255/50-sized boots.
Inside, clean, simple styling greets you, along with nice, high-quality materials. I really love the multiple tones and colours in this Signature trim. The warmth of the leather contrasted with the metal trim and the beautiful genuine Rosewood trim on console and door panels is really something to behold.
The heated steering wheel is a joy in hand, and the heated and ventilated seats are upholstered in stunning Nappa leather with premium stitching details. They’re delightful comfortable and well-bolstered.
The central 8-inch touchscreen is a bit of a reach, but can also be controlled with the rotary HMI controller on the console. The system is slowly starting to feel a bit dated with its many nested layers, but it still works fine. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated and the BOSE system sounds great!
There’s a boatload of driver assistance technology in this trim. You get brake support, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, a heads-up display and a surround-view camera.
Second and Third Row Seats
The roomy second row seats are comfortable (the two outboard seats are heated) and they recline and slide fore and aft for maximum adjustment. The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest – pop the lid to access the two hidden USB plugs – and there’s a rear climate control panel.
As is typical in this class, the third row is simply not suitable for adult passengers. In order to accommodate adults back there, you’re forced to slide the second row seats up so far that it basically becomes unusable. So count on transporting children or well-behaved dogs back there – of note, there are no LATCH anchors in the third row, only two sets in the second row.
The trunk lid is powered and the trunk itself is spacious, although slightly smaller than the competition’s cargo space. It ranges from 407L behind the third row, to 1082 behind the second row (it splits 60/40 when you fold it down), to 2017 with all the rear seats folded down.
Under the Hood
The 2.5L turbo-4 remains unchanged, putting down 227HP (250HP with premium fuel) and 310 lb.ft of torque. The 6-speed transmission carries over too, and of course so does the I-ACTIV all-wheel drive system. Mazda rates the CX-9 at 11.6/9.1 L/100 km city/hwy, and we averaged 12.1 L/100 km over the course of a very, very cold week in it.
The engine provides good power off the line but the whole package feels a bit soft once you’re on the move. Although it’s never slow or underpowered, it feels like it could be snappier. Sport mode does make it a bit more responsive. The transmission is delightful, and smooth, but I can’t help thinking a more modern transmission with a couple more gears would give the CX-9 that extra oomph that is missing on the road.
There’s nothing missing in the even-more-refined-for-2019 suspension department. The handling is outstanding, particularly for a vehicle this size, and it’s actually fun to drive. On top of that, there’s no compromise in ride quality. It’s comfortable and very quiet, even at highway speeds – Mazda spent some time enhancing the noise insulation and sound absorption and it shows.
If you tow things, the CX-9 can lug up to 3,500 pounds around behind it.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was high. She felt it looked and drove like a very expensive vehicle and she said it would be easy to live with.
I genuinely love the CX-9. Mazda knocked the styling out of the park for me, and it’s a great driver’s vehicle. It offers enough utility and space to be competitive and the pricing stays in line with the competition as well.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Mazda Canada.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.