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...take a closer look at the 2017 Mazda CX-9. I can guarantee you’ll be impressed by its accommodations, fuel economy, and performance, plus safety results are now evident to support this family purchase.

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

In a sea of three-row passenger SUVs is the Mazda CX-9, rising high above the competition tide thanks to an array of features from style to space that bode well with any family. Hardly a complaint to be found here, as the vehicle ride is swift, the technology is abundant, comfort is all around and gas is sipped at 23 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive.

I drove a 2017 Mazda CX-9 with the 227-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine and six-speed Sport automatic transmission with Sport Mode. Available in four trims – Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature – my Signature trim came with the following standard features: genuine rosewood interior trim; Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery; heated front seats; an eight-way power driver’s seat; keyless start; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; 8-inch touchscreen display with navigation and rearview camera; MAZDA CONNECT infotainment; Bluetooth connectivity; Pandora Radio; 5.8-inch multi-information display; upgraded Bose 12-speaker audio system; moonroof; three-zone climate control; second-row window sunshades; power liftgate; twenty-inch alloy wheels; fog lights; bi-xenon headlights; stainless steel exhaust outlet; a suite of safety technology; rear cargo underfloor storage; 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels; LED fog lights; and roof rails. Price as described is $44,315.

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 now comes standard with the Smart City Brake Support (last model year the big changes were a new engine and the Signature trim addition). Similar three-row competitors include the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, Chevy Traverse, and the Kia Sorento.


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Stylish But Comfortable Results: Mazda pretty much perfected the CX-9 last model year, but testing the top-of-the-line Signature trim is a new experience for me – let me tell you it edges on entry-level luxury and can stand up to a Lexus or Acura in both design and comfort, with key features at this level being all-wheel drive, upgraded leather upholstery, LED interior lighting, and the rosewood trim (with that being said, I think you’d still be very happy at the Grand Touring trim). The infotainment system relies on touchscreen and dial commands, and is thankfully very intuitive. The thermodynamics emits steady heat – those with small kids and morning chaos can appreciate such minute details to get everyone’s day started off right. The second-row seats slide making easy access into the rear area, which like most rows in this segment are cramped. Driver and passenger seats is extremely comfortable and you’ll feel set for long drives.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2017 Mazda CX-9 much stronger ratings than last year with “Good” in all areas and bestowing upon it the honor of a Top Safety Pick. Standard safety equipment includes an Advanced Airbag System; Anti-Lock Brakes with EBD; Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control; and Roll Stability Control. Important safety tech starts getting added on the Grand Touring and above, with my Signature trim featuring blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, frontal collision mitigation, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Smart City Brake is now standard.

Cost Issues: Starting price for a 2017 Mazda CX-9 in the base Sport trim starts at $33,320 with my fully loaded Signature trim at $44,315. To be this happy with style and performance – but in a minivan – I’d check out the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica base LX with a starting price of $30,995 and a recent loaded Limited model and packages at $48,280.

Activity & Performance Ability: As cited in last year’s review, the Mazda CX-9 possesses many surprising merits. In regards to performance, you have a turbo 4-cylinder engine quick and able to respond in all acceleration moments – when I needed the CX-9 to hit the on-ramp with gusto, it replied; the same attitude prevailed during steep highway inclines. I loaded her up with all shapes and sizes of passengers – again, no complaints on visibility, legroom and airflow. Another motivating quality is the generous turning radius and maneuverability, making any mom feel ready to tackle the busiest of parking lots. Unlike a lot of three-row vehicles (and even some two-row SUVs), you won’t feel swallowed up by the size both inside and out.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy with the 2.5-liter engine is 25-city and 28-highway for a combined 25 miles-per-gallon with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive knocks this down to 23 combined which is still excellent for a three-row SUV.

Don’t get swayed by the stalwarts – that includes the luxury SUVS – but instead take a closer look at the 2017 Mazda CX-9. I can guarantee you’ll be impressed by its accommodations, fuel economy, and performance, plus safety results are now evident to support this family purchase.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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