While Mazda isn’t a household name for many consumers, the reality is it should be. With sharp design, great driving dynamics and loaded with value SUVs like the 2017 Mazda CX-9 are a great vehicle. Here are 5 things you need to know.
1. Mid-Size SUV with 3 Rows
The CX-9 is Mazda’s version of a 3-row mid-size SUV competing with the other competitors like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, VW Atlas, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse and others.
In each of these models, the third row is pretty much used for small children and other short trips for adults. Most often, it is an optional seating area meaning you will more often than not have the seats folded down to access a larger cargo area. This is the trade-off for these models – third row vs. additional cargo.
It comes in FWD and AWD setups with four different trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature.
The small version is a Mazda CX-5 and the crossover Mazda CX-3. There is no Mazda CX-7.
2. New Signature Trim Level
Introduced in 2016, the new Signature trim level adds another level above the Grand Touring trim. This new trim level makes the AWD system standard on the CX-9 as well as upgrades the interior.
Inside the cabin, the surfaces are bathed in extra-premium auburn-colored Nappa leathers, genuine rosewood accents and LED interior lighting along the automatic shifter.
It also comes equipped with a 12-speaker Bose audio system, infotainment screen and the typical array of tech features like Bluetooth, driver’s seat memory and keyless entry start/stop. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability will be added in the future according to a Mazda announcement.
The Signature trim level starts at $44,315. On the low end, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 starts at $31,520 for the base Sport trim.
3. Great Driving Dynamics
One of the best things about the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is how superior its driving feel is over other SUVs. This SUV simply hugs the corners and is a lot of fun off the line with the 2.4L turbo-charged four-cylinder producing 250 HP.
Writing about driving dynamics in a three-row SUV seems counter intuitive to what an SUV of this size is typically built. Most consumers will shop for this vehicle based on needing the third row for hauling the family. However, Mazda asks why not have some fun while you do it. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 simply delivers here.
If a fun driving experience is at the top of your list, then the Mazda CX-9 provides the best in the segment.
4. One Engine Choice For 2017 Mazda CX-9
Every CX-9 comes standard with a “SkyActiv” 2.5L four-cylinder turbo-charged engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 310 lb-ft of torque and 227 HP with 87 octane gas/250 HP with 93 octane gas.
Why the boost in HP? The SkyActiv turbo is setup to burn the richer fuel mix more efficiently than the lower grade. Not every company suggest burning the higher grade of gasoline, but for the better driving performance, the higher octane delivers. This is similar to many luxury brands that require higher octane gas aka premium fuel.
The other thing to know about the engine is it uses Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo. This turbo charger system uses the exhaust fumes to help keep the turbo spooled at lower RPMs similar to how you can vary the pressure from a garden hose with your thumb over the one end. What does this mean for the driver? Little to no turbo lag and power on demand like an electric car provides.
Fuel economy is rated 22/28 FWD and 20/26 AWD.
5. Leg Room, Size and Storage Space Are Deceptively Big
The result of Mazda’s really sharp design and driving dynamics is a vehicle that just doesn’t feel that big. In my week of driving it, I swear I was driving a smaller size SUV. However, loading up the kids and putting bags in the rear, the interior is roomier than one would imagine from the exterior.
Looking at specs compared to competitors, this thought on a larger SUV bears out. For example, compared to the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot, the Mazda CX-9 is the longest with an overall length of 199.4 inches. This is an inch longer than the Explorer and about seven inches longer than the Highlander. The CX-9 also has the longest wheelbase besting the Explorer by 3 inches.
Front hip and leg room are both competitive with the CX-9 middle of the pack in hip room for the front seats and within an inch of most competitors in the front leg room.
Interior cargo room, the CX-9 is middle of the pack again at 14.4 cu.ft. with 2nd and 3rd row seats upright. Drop the 3rd row and cargo room grows to 38.2 cu. ft of room. With both 2nd and 3rd row seats down, this space grows to 71.2 cu. ft. This is plenty of room to haul groceries, bags or the occasional home improvement project like 2x4s.
In the end, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 might just be the most overlooked three-row SUV on the market which means it really is a hidden gem. With comparable cargo space as its competitors and offers a lot of value for the money. If you are in the market for a 3-row SUV, check this model out. It will be well worth your time.