2014 Mazda CX-9 Review - Heels on Wheels
KATRINA SAYS:The three-row 2014 Mazda CX-9 remains to be an overlooked SUV gem, but needs a few improvements to in-car technology and better fuel economy to pull ahead from its segment.
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE MAZDA CX-9 VEHICLE
Shopping for a three-row crossover takes serious thought and the Mazda CX-9 should be including in your top picks list. It possesses athletic looks and performance, offers sleek interior styling, and remains affordable for families on budgets.
I drove a 2014 Mazda CX-9 with the standard 273-horsepower 3.7-liter engine, front-wheel drive and six-speed Sport automatic transmission. Available in three trims – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – my Grand Touring trim came with the following standard features: leather-trimmed upholstery; heated front seats; an eight-way power driver’s seat; keyless start; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; Bluetooth connectivity; Pandora Radio; 5.8-inch multi-information display; six-speaker audio system; three-zone climate control; twenty-inch alloy wheels; fog lights; bi-xenon headlights; stainless steel exhaust outlet; and a roof spoiler. Price as described is $35,035 without options.
The last model year received a new front end design and a multi-information display screen, plus Pandora Radio and an updated Bluetooth system – so not much has changed for the current model year. Three-row competitors include the Nissan Pathfinder, Chevy Traverse, and Hyundai Santa Fe.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The CX-9 features a one-quality-for-all mentality with the interior build for all trim levels, each casting an equal air of cabin refinement. The standard 5.8-inch multi-information display is a bit on the small size compared to what competitors are offering, and the graphics aren’t as engaging as what Hyundai’s Blue link or Ford’s SYNC is pushing. Every year the standard equipment list grows strategically for the CX-9. Additional packages included a $2,435 Grand Touring Tech Package (Bose audio system, touchscreen navigation, moonroof) and a $100 Towing Prep Package to handle up to 3,500 pounds.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2014 Mazda CX-9 ratings of “Good” in frontal and side impact crash testing, but just “Marginal” in roof strength tests – the exact same results as last year and you can see images of the vehicle after testing on the website. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 4-Stars (with Frontal Crash receiving 3-Stars, rollover 4-Stars, and Side Crash 5-Stars). Standard safety equipment includes An Advanced Airbag System; Anti-Lock Brakes with EBD; Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control; and Roll Stability Control. My Grand Touring trims also had a blind-spot monitoring system, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Cost Issues: Starting price for a Mazda CX-9 in the base Sport trim starts at $29,985. My loaded Grand Touring trim came to $37,720 with options; about a $500 increase from last year.
Activity & Performance Ability: one of the merits of the CX-9 is that seven people fit comfortably inside – that includes two adults in the optional third row, but make note there are no LATCH hooks here. No complaints on visibility, legroom and airflow. The generous turning radius and maneuverability are additional highlights.
The Green Concern: The Mazda CX-9 has unimpressive V6 gas mileage: with front-wheel drive, its 17-city and 24-highway for 19 miles-per-gallon combined. All-wheel drive is 16-city and 22-highway for 18 combined. This will be a growing issue as vehicles like the Acura MDX crossover can live up to its 21 miles-per-gallon promise under a 3.5-liter V6 and all-wheel drive.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
An SUV favorite for years, the 2014 Mazda CX-9 remains to be a real three-row crossover find. The model year hasn’t evolved much from last, and concern might be in order as the display size and in-car technology aren’t as competitive and even fuel economy, as crossovers with V6 engines are beginning to hit new highs of 20- to 21 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive.
©2014 Katrina Ramser