2017 Mazda CX-9: Family SUV stunner

10 May 2017 | 1,341 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds We have said it before and we will say it again---know who you are. Mazda still knows who it is, and the result is automobiles that have special flair, styling all their own, and stunning performance for the driving masses. This year, they have taken it to the next level: Combining sporty performance, arresting styling and amazing, top drawer interior design ----all in one product: the 2017 Mazda CX-9. The CX-9 breaks all the rules for crossovers, and does it with class, elan,  and unwavering individuality. For starters, this car looks like no other on the road. You are not likely to confuse it with anything else on the road.  It somehow manages to say "I am a high performance CUV" while also saying, "But I have the luxury thing going on too!"   [caption id="attachment_8961" align="alignnone" width="600"] MY16 Mazda CX-9[/caption] Take the interior.  There is an elegant simplicity to the arrangement of the gauges, controls and fixtures. No clutter. No overwhelming number of bells, buttons, knobs and whistles.  And the design of it all is a work of art.  Gorgeous, unvarnished looking wood that has gentle curves that clearly show a painstakingly hand-crafted feel and appearance---even though you know this is a regular production product, not a hand-built, bespoke one. The whole presentation screams "Mercedes" or "BMW" and we've seen plenty of cars from both brands, that don't measure up to the ambiance of the CX-9.  This is particularly true if you ordere your Cx-9 in the Machine Gray metallic color with the Auburn (sort of a soft burgundy brownish color) interior combination. And a look at that Mazda steering wheel tells you that this car is about business--sports business.  It promises precise handling, quick acceleration, and sure-footed driving. And for the most part, it delivers all that.  We will say that it does feel heavier than what you might expect in a Mazda, and sometimes you do feel a bit less firm control than you may have experienced from a mazda product.  This is not a MX-5 Miata roadster, or for that matter a Mazda3.  But in spite of that and sometimes gentle body roll--no big deal--the CX-9 still outperforms the competition when it comes to handling. This is the family crossover you want if you like to drive--nothing else even comes close. There are some learning edges, though.  The infotainment system, controlled by a knob on the console, is somewhat bewildering, and we weren't wild about having to figure out while underway for unexpected adjustments to the choice of music source, etc.  And we found ourselves sometimes "muting" the small power and sound button next to the controller.  And the Bluetooth connection and set up can be frustrating. The climate control system was not especially efficient. Delivery of both heat and cold air proved to be on the weak side; this seems to be an issue we have had with Mazda products in the past. And compared to the competition, the cargo space seems a bit on the limited side, and the third seat space mediocre at best. Our CX-9 tester which was a top of the line CX-9 Signature All Wheel Drive model had a base price of $44,615, but there's a long and comprehensive list of standard equipment.  After options, the price was $45,755. You can get the CX-9 in several different versions, all of which are three row crossovers that hold seven occupants.  The versions are Sport, Turing, Grand Touring, and Signature.  If you want leather--and we recommend it--move up to the Touring, and you will also get desirable safety features like rear-cross traffic alert and blind sport warning--both a necessity because visibility can been an issue in the sleek CX-9. But if you want luxe, you absolutely have to spring for the Signature version, which is nothing short of a Mercedes in disguise with its, sumptuous butter soft leather and that beautiful aluminum and rosewood trim combination. For all CX-9s, power comes from a 2.5 liter, 250 horsepower four cylinder engine that produces 310 pound-feet of torque, and it is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission.  They all come either in front wheel drive or all-wheel drive.. Standard features on the Sport include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seats, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Mazda's Connect infotainment system with 7-inch display, and a six-speaker sound system. The Touring model steps things up with  heated mirrors, a power liftgate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed emergency braking (Smart City Brake Support), heated front seats, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (four-way front passenger seat), an 8-inch infotainment display and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest. Pop for the Grand Touring and you also get 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors, upgraded frontal collision warning and mitigation systems, a head-up display, driver-seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle-row seats, aluminum interior trim, additional interior lighting, a navigation system, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system and satellite radio. Then you have that fabulous Signature model. Sit back and enjoy exterior LED accent lighting, premium leather upholstery and rosewood interior trim. All-wheel drive is standard on the Signature. The fuel economy rating is 23 combined, 20 city, and 26 highway.  In full disclosure, we will say that the mileage generally fell 2 to 4 miles per gallon below that in our driving.  You will spend about $1,000 more in gasoline costs with the CX-9 over five years, than you would with other new vehicles. The CX-9 uses 4.3 gallons of gasoline per 100 miles, and the annual fuel cost is about $1,600 every year for five years of driving 15,000 miles annually on gasoline costing $2.45 a gallon. The warranty program includes a 3 year, or 36,000 mile coverage plan for the basic car, and five year/60,000 mile warranty for the powertrain. The CX-9 is a crossover you do not want to overlook when you get around to buying a new set of wheels for the family.    

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