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2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

ENGINE: 2.5-liter turbocharged 4 (Internal Combustion Engine)

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 227 hp @ 5,000 rpm/310 lb.-ft. @ 2,000 rpm

WHEELBASE: 115.3 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 199.4 x 77.2 x 69.0 in.

TIRES: P285/50R20

CARGO CAPACITY: 14.4/38.2/71/2 cu. ft. (all seats up/3rd row down/2nd and 3rd rows down)

ECONOMY: 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway/19.9 mpg test


CURB WEIGHT: 4,383 lbs.


COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, Toyota Highlander 

STICKER: $47,385 (includes $1,045 delivery, $975 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda CVX-9 is a big SUV with a small footprint, making it an almost ideal combination.

The problem with most sport utilities is that they have trucks in their DNA, which badly affects ride quality. If the SUV is built off a sedan platform, then it’s labeled a crossover, or CUV, and ride quality is usually better. The Mazda CX-9 is a true SUV, with all-wheel drive in the package, but it rides like a sedan.

Making ride quality easier is a long 115.3-inch wheelbase. However, the CX-9 is just under 200 inches long overall, which almost nudges it into compact SUV class. But it’s the wheelbase (and weight) that contributes the most to ride quality. The CX-9 does a good job of handling most normal road imperfections, even the roughed road surfaces prior to resurfacing. 

The CX-9 is a very comfortable driver/rider. Operation is essentially silent from the 2.5-liter turbocharged inline four. Shifting is also smooth with the 6-speed automatic. The engine feels more like a six. There are two drive modes - sport and normal. In sport, it feels as if you left the shifter in a lower gear and forgot to upshift.

Our tester came equipped with all the good accessories - blind spot monitor, tire pressure monitor, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, smart city brake support that helps avoid silly rear-end dingers, plus pushbutton start/stop. You can get spoiled by all these features, including the back-up camera, as I have noticed when I drive my two “older” cars. The driver faces a clear instrument panel with white-on-black  dials. Our tester also had a heads up display (HUD) that means you don’t have to look down to check your speed. 

In the center of the dash is a clear infotainment screen that looks as if it popped up from the canter of the dash (hey, Mazda, here’s a possible future option if you’re not interested in what the screen has to offer). Navigation is easy to use, but there is a learning curve. For example, once you type in your destination, you have to figure out which buttons to push to have the CX-9 get you there. It isn’t overly user-friendly.

The CX-9 has a good audio system, although our tester was only equipped with AM and FM, so we had a chance to visit old pre-SiriusXM friends. 

Front seats are comfortable with some side support. They are heated and cooled. Our granddaughters commented instantly on how comfortable the second row rear seats were. There is good legroom for second-row passengers. Rear seats are also heated and have their own HVACV controls. Third row legroom, however, is tight.

With all the seats up, cargo capacity is adequate, but not golf  bag-worthy. There is some small storage under the cargo floor. The power lift gate, however, is user-friendly.

The Mazda CX-9 has good exterior and interior design. Unfortunately, all CX’s look similar, even though the CX-9 is larger. 

Overall, the Mazda CX-9 is a true pleasure to drive. While our test week included predominantly local driving, I would have enjoyed taking it out on the Interstates for a long trip. Maybe next time.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate