By: Candy Chung
I’m usually not a big fan of large vehicles as I think they are hard to navigate around town. The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV that doesn’t feel like a clumsy large vehicle. Instead, it drives like a smaller car than it really is. My tester is the Signature trim which is the top trim and comes with all the upscale features like Nappa leather, Bose sound system, moonroof, head-up display and power adjusted seats with 2 memory settings etc. The engine is a Skyactiv-G 2.5 turbo 4-cylinder with i-Activ all-wheel drive. The engine produces 227hp (250 with premium gas) and 310lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy is posted at 11.6 city and 9.1 highway.
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 looks great from every angle. It’s a large and tall vehicle and the 20” wheels really fit the vehicle. I especially like the rear of the CX-9; the chrome accent gives the car an upscale appearance and honestly some people may be mistaken the CX-9 as one of Infiniti’s new SUVs. The clearance height is a healthy 8.8” which will be sufficient for rough roads. There’s no running board and it doesn’t need it. I’m petite in size and still have no trouble getting in and out of the vehicle. The seating position is high and commanding. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system, I feel fairly connected to the road and the ride is typically comfortable and planted. The suspension is able to absorb most of the bumps and imperfections of the roads. Cabin quality is very good. The combination of different materials and colors makes the cabin more interesting.
Space is excellent as one would expect from a 3-row SUV. There is more than enough room in the driver and front passenger row, and the second row is very spacious as well. There is a lot of legroom in the second row and the seats can slide forward and backward and can even recline. The third row is easy to get to; I just pull the latch and slightly slide the second row seat forward. I can fit in the third row and would be comfortable enough for a short commute as long as the second row slides forward a bit. There are lights and cup holders in the third row but I didn’t find any AC vents. I think the third row is perfectly usable for kids.
Let’s talk about the trunk. With three rows up, there isn’t too much trunk space, maybe able to fit one or two suitcases. However, there is plenty of ways to increase the trunk space. I can fold down one or both of the third row seats (fairly easily too) and if I still need more space, I can fold down the second row seats as well.
I think the Mazda CX-9 is a real contender for families having to drive around more than 4 passengers occasionally. This SUV wouldn’t be a good fit for families with multiple car seats as getting to the third row would be impeded by the car seats. The third row is perfectly fine for young kids who can climb in and out by themselves and maybe even adults in smaller size. It offers a lot of different ways to adjust between how much trunk space you need and how many passengers you have to carry. The Signature trim is upscale enough to compete with higher-priced SUVs on the market. At $51,500 the Signature trim offers a lot of bang for your buck. And if you want to spend less, the CX-9 actually starts at $36,700 and already includes features like 17” alloy wheels, LED lights, 3-zone automatic climate control and 8-way power adjusted driver seat. The GS-L adds all-wheel drive, 20” alloy wheels, moonroof, leather seats, heated second row seats and heated steering wheel. Step up to GT you get 360 degrees view monitor, parking sensors, cooled front seats, 8 way power passenger seat and Bose sound system. Worth mentioning is that CX-9 is the first Mazda to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I have used the Android Auto and it works well.
The only complaints I have after driving the CX-9 for a week are: fuel economy not as good as claimed, infotainment screen a bit low in resolution and the lack of panoramic moonroof in the back seats. I managed to do almost 14L/100km. I did a lot of city driving but the fuel economy could be better. The infotainment is a bit bland and the screen has lower resolution compared to other cars I’ve driven lately. These are fairly minor complaints compared to the pros of the CX-9. It is worth a look and a test drive if you’re shopping for a three-row SUV. You’ll appreciate the fact that it drives like a smaller car than it really is.