2016 CX-9 New Car Test Drive
Mazda CX-9 is a midsize crossover utility vehicle with big cargo capacity and the ride and handling of a large sedan. It's a swift and stylish alternative to a minivan.
The Mazda CX-9 is a great people hauler. It can carry seven adult passengers, thanks to a third-row seat designed with adults in mind. It's easy for an older driver to get into the CX-9 because there's no need to climb up into it. Yet the seating position is high enough that the driver looks over at, not up to, drivers in big SUVs. We found the cabin surroundings handsome though not luxurious.
The CX-9 is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, providing a nice option for those who worry about snowy travel in hilly areas. Properly equipped, it is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds.
What sets the CX-9 apart are its sporty looks and the road manners to back them up. The CX-9 responds quickly to driver inputs, feeling surprisingly enthusiastic about travel on a serpentine two-lane road. A 3.7-liter V6 engine delivering 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque provides plenty of power. This refined, 24-valve power plant was designed by Ford and is built in Ohio before being shipped to Japan where the CX-9 is assembled. It works well with a six-speed, Japanese-made automatic transmission that can be shifted manually if the driver is interested in some frisky motoring.
First introduced for the 2007 model year, the CX-9 is aging. It has received updates through the years, but has not benefitted from a complete redesign. While it received the U.S. government's highest possible ratings (five stars) in frontal and side impact crashes upon its release, the front crash standard has become stricter and today the CX-9 gets only three stars in that test.
Changes for 2015 are minimal. The only change of note is the addition of a Recreational Accessory package that adds roof rails with cross bars, a cargo net, and a stainless steel rear bumper guard.
The 2015 Mazda CX-9 comes in three trim levels. Each is available in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Mazda CX-9 Sport FWD ($29,985) and AWD ($31,575) come with cloth upholstery, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, trip computer, three-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, 5.8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, HD radio, USB and auxiliary inputs, six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, split-folding second- and third-row seats, roof spoiler, and P245/60R18 tires on aluminum wheels.
The Touring FWD ($32,480) and AWD ($34,070) add leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment, four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, heated mirrors, automatic headlights, Blind Spot Monitoring system, rear park assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a rearview camera.
The Grand Touring FWD ($35,035) and AWD ($36,625) add driver's seat memory, upgraded exterior and interior trim, keyless access and starting, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, second-row center armrest with console storage, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, fog lights, automatic wipers, power liftgate, and P245/50R20 tires.
Packaged as an option for the Sport are heated mirrors, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar ($740). A Touring Technology package ($3,000) includes fog lights, sunroof, power liftgate, keyless access and starting, navigation system, premium 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, and satellite radio. A Grand Touring Technology package ($2,435) comes with a sunroof, a navigation system, a premium 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, and satellite radio. The Grand Touring is also available with a Rear Seat Entertainment System ($3,245) that features a 9-inch screen, an 11-speaker Bose surround system with satellite radio, the navigation system, and a 115-volt power outlet. A Recreational Accessory package ($650) adds roof rails, cross bars, rear cargo net, and a stainless steel rear bumper guard. Other options include remote engine starting ($350), roof rails $300), and satellite radio with a four-month subscription ($525).
Safety features include electronic stability control with roll stability control and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, side air curtains with rollover deployment, front-seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and dual frontal air bags. The Touring and Grand Touring also have a Blind Spot Monitoring system, rear park assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a rearview camera.