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2019 Mazda CX-9 Review: Mid-sized bigness!

For me it’s clear: the 2019 Mazda CX-9 has just about everything it takes to meet the needs of families today. The three-row mid-sized SUV can easily accommodate 7 occupants, in fact it’s the biggest of the three utility models currently offered by the Japanese automaker, above the CX-3 and the CX-5. Its size makes it simply ideal for two adults, three kids and all their gear and whatnot as they head out on that road trip!

Its versatile trunk is also capable of swallowing up whatever objects you need to fit in their as part of your active lifestyle. To get full use of it, though, you will need to sacrifice the CX-9’s third row of seats.

The evolution
The CX-9 was first introduced by Mazda in 2007.It benefited from a full in-depth update in 2016, and gets some more improvements for the 2019 model-year.

According to AJAC, the 2018 edition of the CX-9 is the best large SUV on the market in Canada. The new 2019 edition has for its part made it onto the shortlist as finalist for the 2019 Auto123.com Awards, in the Midsize SUV of the Year category. The signs are good for Mazda’s CX-9 for the coming year!

So, this is a second-generation family SUV that has proven its worth on the market for 12 years and counting. Mazda is not planning a full revision of the model for another three or four years – something to keep in mind when considering what the resale value of your new 2019 model might be in a few years.

Photo: K.Lajoie

The features
As mentioned, the 2019 edition of the CX-9 has been given some improvements and updates; here they are:

The base GS model is available from $38,710, including transportation and preparation fees.

Now, with the i-ACTIVE all-wheel drive system (starting at $42,010), the 2019 CX-9 GS includes as standard equipment:

o    All of the elements in the i-ACTIVESENSE package from 2018, including

  •    Cruise control with stop/start function
  •    Traffic sign identification
  •    Intelligent braking system in heavy traffic
  •    Blind spot monitor with transversal traffic alert
  •    Lane keep assist
  •    Adaptive front headlights
  •    Lane departure warning
  •    Front obstacle warning
  •    Distance evaluation
  •    Braking assist
  •    Pedestrian detection

o    Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, now standard on all CX-9 trims
o    18-inch alloy wheels
o    LED heradlights and rear lights
o    Backup camera
o    7-inch touchscreen with MazdaConnect
o    Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob
o    Heated front seats
o    8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

The GS-L model (starting at $45,310) includes:

o        20-inch light grey high-lustre finish alloy wheels
o        Power glass moonroof
o        Height-adjustable power lift-gate
o        Leather-trimmed upholstery
o        10-way power driver’s seat (includes power lumbar support)
o        Adjustable heated second row seats (outboard seats only)
o        Heated steering wheel
o        Front wiper de-icer
o        8-inch colour touchscreen display with MAZDA CONNECT

The GT model (starting at $50,510) includes:

o        LED front and rear signature lighting
o        Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
o        360º View Monitor
o        Front and rear parking sensors
o        Power folding door mirrors
o        Adjustable ventilated front seats
o        8-way power passenger’s seat (includes power lumbar support)
o        12-speaker premium Bose audio system
o        SiriusXM® Satellite Radio (complimentary 3-month subscription)
o        SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link services (5-year complimentary trial subscription)

The top-end version, which I had the opportunity to drive this week, is the CX-9 Signature (starting at $53,510), and it adds:

o        Nappa leather upholstery
o        Santos Rosewood-trimmed centre console panel and door switch panel
o        Premium cross-stitching detail on steering wheel
o        Signature grille illumination
o        LED illumination for centre console panel
o        Frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror

Photo: K.Lajoie

The looks
In terms of its exterior appearance, the new edition is virtually unchanged, the ongoing popularity of the model attesting to its good design.

Inside, I really appreciated the space available to the driver and front passenger; second-row space is equally impressive. I did the exercise of placing three booster seats in that second row, and the CX-9’s ability to accommodate them makes it a great choice for larger families.

The Signature welcomes occupants with NAPA leather surfaces, leather-stitched leather wrapping for the steering wheel and LED accents in the area around the gear shifter area, making for a pleasing visual environment. The exterior side-view mirrors on the GT and Signature versions fold in automatically when the doors are locked.

Comfort
The seating itself is impressively comfortable, and the ventilated seats on the GT and Signature versions give the CX-9 an added level of refinement. That ample second-row space allows occupants there to relax in comfort and emerge unscathed from even the longest road trips.

Third-row space, that bane of so many larger SUVs, is acceptable, but at the cost of cutting into the trunk space. Cargo space is thus somewhat limited. There are times you’ll have to choose between the comfort of passengers and being able to fit in all the gear you intend to bring.

Photo: K.Lajoie

Technologies
The navigation system is accessible on the touchscreen menu and is easy to use – it helps that Mazda offers the same system throughout its product range. I like that the system allows for keeping the right arm in a lower, more natural position, via a dial button on the central console that allows for browsing through the menu on the screen; it’s clear and intuitive, and I love it.

There’s also the aforementioned 360-degree visual on the touchscreen, available as an option in the GT and Signature versions. The system uses four cameras to produce an image of the whole area around the vehicle. The image produced is clear, I had no complaints there. A small addition for North American editions of the CX-9 for 2019 is the inclusion of illuminated indicators showing if the second- and third-row passengers have done up their seatbelts. Why not!

On the road
Mazda has brought some improvements to the steering, suspension and even chassis of its CX-9 that I greatly appreciated. The vehicle responds immediately to the driver’s instructions, for one. All trims come with a 2.5L 4-cylinder SKYACTIV turbo engine delivering 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Use higher-octane gasoline, and the horses increase to 250. The powertrain is managed by a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, which helps provide very positive acceleration for such a big SUV.

The all-wheel-drive system available as an option on the base model helps gives that trim an official fuel consumption figure of 8.4L/100 km. My real-world total during my week of driving the CX-9 Signature with AWD resulted in a combined figure of 9.3L/100 km, which is very acceptable in my book!

 

Photo: K.Lajoie

Conclusion
Overall, I really adored the package Mazda has put together for its CX-9 in 2019. The model offers good, driver-focused ergonomics and a well-conceived interior with generous living space in the middle row. This is a vehicle that should make your short list if you’re shopping in this segment.

The base models come with a generous list of technologies and comfort features. Construction is solid, and in the looks department I feel like Mazda made no compromises. This SUV is at ease in most normal-use environments. Another plus is that Mazda offers an unlimited-mileage warranty on all of its new models.

The drawbacks include the trunk space available for cargo when the third row of seats is up. It will be pretty much unavoidable for larger families to need a rooftop box to add more cargo space. And if you plan on pulling a trailer, know that the CX-9 has a maximum capacity of 3,500 lbs.

The competition
Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
Ford Explorer
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Nissan Murano
Toyota Highlander
Volkswagen Atlas

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