With seven seats standard across its range vehicles such as the CX-9 have effectively replaced people movers especially when they come with the choice of front- or rear-wheel. The former contributing to better performance, lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions and the latter providing extra traction for towing or mild off-road capability.
Five Mazda CX-9 variants are available: Sport, Touring, GT, Azami and Azami LE. Azami LE which was added to the range in September 2018 only comes with AWD, all other have both drive options. All come with the same 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
Styling of the CX-9 is neat, tidy and conservative in line with Mazda’s successful Kodo theme. There’s not a lot of chrome or other bling items of similar bling. The front of the CX-9 features a vertical version of the standard Mazda ‘family’ grille that’s just the right size for the big SUV and is flanked by wide and narrow headlights.
Sport and Touring variants have standard 18-inch patterned alloy wheels. GT, Azami and Azami LE have 20-inch alloys finished in bright silver.
The just over five metres in length third row legroom is almost OK for adult passengers although the lack of air vents could make it a bit uncomfortable in hot weather. The window-line is also quite high and could restrict outward vision for young children.
Cargo capacity is better than most in its class with a reasonable 230 litres with all seven seats in position; 810 litres as a five-seater. The loading height of the floor is a comfortable 805mm.
Power comes from a 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine that peaks at 170 kW with standard unleaded fuel, but can increase to 186 kW with premium unleaded. The extra 16 kW really only comes into play if you work the engine hard. Torque is impressive at 420 Nm and comes in at 2000 revs.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Mazda has never been a company to scrimp on safety features and all CX-9 variants come with a wide range of driver support systems, including detection devices such as radars and cameras to recognise potential hazards as well as pre-crash safety technologies to prevent or reduce the severity of impacts.
There’s also smart city forward and rear brake support; blind spot monitoring; rear cross traffic alert; driver attention alert; radar cruise control with stop/go function; lane departure warning; lane-keep assist; traffic sign recognition; high beam control; Isofix child seat anchors in the outer second-row seats; and head-up display.
GT and Azami models also get traffic sign recognition while Azami and Azami LE get 360-degree view camera.
CX-9 uses the latest version of the Mazda MZD Connect system to provide access to the internet, social media, email, Pandora, Stitcher and Aha as well as hands-free voice and text messaging through Bluetooth.
All models get built-in satellite navigation while the GT, Azami and Azami LE models also have DAB+ digital radio where available and a Premium Bose 294 watt audio system.
Information is displayed on a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen in the entry-level CX-9 Sport while all higher grade models get a more advanced 8.0-inch screen.
The CX-9 has four USB ports, two in the front centre console and two in the rear seat armrest.
The two-tonne Mazda CX-9 responds well to accelerator pedal inputs and cruised effortlessly along our undulating M1 motorway to the north of Sydney. The 2018 upgrade brought noticeable improvements to noise and vibration levels.
Despite a 12-metre turning circle the big Mazda SUV is surprisingly manoeuvrable around town. Its bulk can make parking a bit tricky however the combination of parking sensors, reversing camera and the rear cross traffic alert system reduce the risks of bumps and scrapes.
Once clear of the suburbs and out onto the open motorway the CX-9 comes into its own. This could easily be a luxury cruising sedan but with the added benefits of extra interior space and passenger and/or luggage capacity.
Despite its size CX-9 is quite enjoyable to drive helped along by the new G-vectoring drive control system that provides a smoother distribution of power and improved handling and balance if you’re driving moderately hard.
The powered driver’s seat now has a tilt function, adjusting the height of the cushion’s front edge. A small adjustment but one that can make a big difference to driving comfort and fatigue levels.
Combined fuel consumption is listed at 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres. We managed to match that on the motorway but around town the figure jumped to 12.3 L/100.
Mazda is making every post a winner with its three-model SUV range helping it consistently hold onto second spot in overall Australian vehicle sales.
While it doesn’t match the sales numbers of its smaller, and cheaper, siblings the CX-9 is a versatile vehicle that combines FWD people mover functionality with AWD moderate off-road ability or towing traction.
AT A GLANCE
Mazda CX-9 Sport FWD: $44,990
Mazda CX-9 Sport AWD: $48,990
Mazda CX-9 Touring FWD: $51,390
Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD: $55,390
Mazda CX-9 GT FWD: $59,390
Mazda CX-9 GT AWD: $63,390
Mazda CX-9 Azami FWD: $60,990
Mazda CX-9 Azami AWD: $64,990
Mazda CX-9 Azami AWD: $66,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-9 Azami 2.5-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 170 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 206 g/km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, AWD
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5075 mm
Wheelbase: 2930 mm
Width: 1969 mm
Height: 1747 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1924 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 74 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres