2017 Mazda CX-9

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A bold step forward for Mazda

Date Posted: July 18, 2016
By Zack Spencer

Mazda has transitioned the CX-9 7-passenger crossover to its Skyactiv technology and platform. This shed a lot of weight and allowed the engineers to place a turbocharged 4-cylinder instead of a V6.

Mazda has made a big splash around its Skyactiv suit of technology in its latest cars. Mazda builds its cars as one, meaning the engine, platform and transmission are all developed simultaneously, instead of cobbling together a vehicle from a collective parts bin. This approach was developed out of necessity because Mazda’s former partner, Ford, sold its stake in the company and Mazda needed to develop a simplified process to make its cars. By using a common platform, engines and other tech and developing it into different sized vehicles has trimmed costs and also resulted in some fantastic products. 

The last vehicle to have legacy Ford components was the full-size 7-passenger crossover called CX-9. The previous generation was running on an old Ford platform and Mazda used Ford engines over the years. When Mazda developed the Skyactiv platform it was meant to be scalable, so Mazda can make it bigger or smaller depending on the product. This CX-9 shares a longer version of the CX-5 and Mazda6 underpinnings. This is a great starting point due to the stiffness of the chassis and the weight savings. When equipped with all wheel drive (AWD), the CX-9 is 130kg lighter than the outgoing model. This makes the CX-9 handle especially well and helps deliver better fuel economy.

Another part of the total overhaul of the CX-9 is the adoption of a turbocharged 4-cylinder, replacing a larger V6 power plant. Mazda uses a high compression engine with turbocharged technology to produce a very responsive engine at all speeds. This big vehicle just launches away from a light and the mid-range useable power is always on hand. The engine is a 2.5L unit that puts out 227hp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, plus it runs on regular gas. If the owner chooses to run premium the horsepower jumps to 250hp but torque remains the same. In addition, there is a sport button to make the engine and 6-speed automatic transmission livelier. All the power goes to the front wheels on the base model but all other trim levels come with standard AWD.

So, the engine, transmission and chassis are all up to the job but another area Mazda excels is interior refinement and finish. Whether it a base-model car or this full-size crossover, Mazda installs interiors that are class-above, meaning you get more for your money. In fact, this latest CX-9 has materials one would expect in a premium vehicle. The test $41,500 GS-L unit seen here is what will probably be the volume seller. The L in GS-L stands for leather, plus this model also gets heated seats, heated steering wheel, larger 8-inch centre mounted infotainment screen, panoramic moon roof, plus a blind spot warning system and cross-traffic alert system, which detects vehicles when the driver is reversing out of a parking spot. This is all good stuff but it’s the way it all comes together that makes this CX-9 a standout. The polished aluminum trim around the centre console, the soft-touch dash and bright screen and rotary dial controller, all resemble premium brands. The back seat is larger and slides forward to access the third row of seats. Room isn’t great for adults but perfectly passible for children.

The $45,500 GT version is a step up in terms of exterior updates like 20-inch wheels compared to the standard 18-inches, LED lights, front and back, plus a few interior updates like a Bose stereo. The real showstopper is the $51,100 signature model that upgrades the interior to Nappa leather and stunning open-pore wood trim. To be honest, the GS-L has the perfect balance of content for money.

That be said, buyers looking for some specific features might need to look elsewhere. There are no heated rear seats offered, no ventilated seats or Android Auto and Apple Car play or a 360-degree camera system. These might be deal breakers for some, but not others. In addition, advanced safety features like forward collision warning are only offered on the GT with Tech package and above, starting at $47,100.

On the open road, the sweeping styling is reflected in the handling of this big crossover. Some vehicle look sporty, this one actually is. There will always be a certain amount of body roll in

tall vehicle but the CX-9 is very controlled. The steering is responsive and light, in fact the CX-9 feels smaller when driving than the size reflects.

Competitors to the CX-9 are many but this product has a class-above interior design, eye-catching exterior and a solid engine and ride. This is best suited for a buyer that like the idea of a three-row crossover but wants to be seen in something more adventurous. The GS-L stacks up well against many other vehicles in this class and would be the trim to choose for a taste of luxury.

Power: 2.5L turbo 4-cylinder with 227hp

Economy: 11.2L/8.8L/100km (city/highway) 

Sticker price: $35,300-$50,100







his is best suited for a buyer that like the idea of a three-row crossover but wants to be seen in something more adventurous
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