Tue | Nov 28, 2023

The CX-9 quest to be the ultimate family vehicle

Published:Sunday | April 24, 2022 | 12:05 AMKareem LaTouche - Automotives Coordinator

Mazda CX-9.
Mazda CX-9.
Mazda CX-9 is alluring and upscale for a three-row midsize crossover SUV.
Mazda CX-9 is alluring and upscale for a three-row midsize crossover SUV.
Mazda CX-9 adds all-wheel drive as standard equipment across the range.
Mazda CX-9 adds all-wheel drive as standard equipment across the range.
The primary controls are easy to reach and use.
The primary controls are easy to reach and use.
Hyundai Palisade.
Hyundai Palisade.

Mazda seems to have found a sweet spot with a well-shaped exterior, a luxury inspired interior and a fun-to-drive engine with the CX-9. I remember seeing the CX-7s in the past and admiring their utilitarian functionalities, but hating their design. It seemed as though I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, as the company overhauled their design language, and came up with a concept that was sleek and forward-thinking.

Mazda is heavily inspired by German vehicles and it’s most obvious in the interior, which boasts upscale materials and precise styling. The cabin is filled with soft-touch finishes with graining, brushed aluminium, and rosewood, depending on the trim level. This being the bigger brother to the CX-5, there is a third row of seats, which, along with the second row, can be easily configured to store luggage.

Mazda’s infotainment system is very reminiscent of BMW’s IDrive, as there is a rotary knob next to the gear lever to control the information screen. Protruding from the dashboard is a 10.3-inch display, which runs Mazda Connect, an easy-to-use software with a minimalist interface. On the home screen are five tiles on a swivel, which helps the driver to focus on one thing at a time.

Go into the music option, where you can select external devices via USB or Bluetooth to play music. Where the audio is concerned, its default setting is in the mid-level frequency, with an inkling towards voice clarity.

There are also creature comforts such as dual-climate control, with rear a/c vents and a sunroof.

I always give kudos to the Skyactiv engine, as it has stood the test of time without any major complaints. As for the CX-9, it has a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which gives an impressive burst of power when needed. For a vehicle this size and weight, it does handle nimbly on the road, as the electric-assisted steering puts the nose of the SUV wherever it is turned.

The suspension feels confident when manoeuvring corners or potholes, as the vehicle does not lose control or bounce about. This combination helps it to achieve very little body roll when turning, which is also aided by the all-wheel-drive system.

The CX-9 has a respectable 60-litre fuel tank, which was a pleasant surprise, because the size of its younger brother is smaller than its competitors. Now the Skyactiv engines do give great gas mileage; however, I still expect the fuel tank to be a respectable size, and, fortunately, this was the case for the CX-9.

There are two driving modes, ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’, and Mazda believes that there is no need to add an ‘Eco’ mode, due to the efficiency of the Skyactiv engine. For the most part, I kept it in Normal mode, especially around town, where there was a lot of traffic. In this state, the RPM is kept low; however, you can activate the power by pressing the gas pedal aggressively.

The company has also taken a page out of the books of Subaru and Volvo, by adding extensive driver-assistance features, which are standard across the line-up. These include lane-departure warning, which nudges the vehicle back into its correct lane whenever it’s going over the white line. There is also blind-spot warning, which gives a visual cue whenever there is a vehicle approaching the driver’s blind spot. This comes in very handy when driving in congested areas, where there are a lot of bike riders.

In addition, there are sensors in the front and rear bumpers, which alerts the driver audibly and visually when the vehicle is close to an object.

The CX-9 packs a little of everything and provides an optimum blend of style, luxury and respectable performance. Once on the inside, it’s hard to overlook the value for money when compared to higher class luxury SUVs.

Price of tested model:

Engine: 2.5-litre, Turbocharged

Horsepower: 227

Torque: 310 lb-ft

Transmission: AWD, six speed

Fuel tank: 60 litres

Body Type: Mid-size SUV

Competition: Hyundai Palisade, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander

Vehicle provided courtesy of Executive Motors Ltd. Telephone 929-5274, mail@execmotorsja.com