The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV that separates itself from rivals with a sportier driving experience and stylish interior. This isn’t easy, considering the competition includes models like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Volkswagen Atlas, to name a few. Good looks and great handling are fun, but does the CX-9 have what it takes to compete on all levels?
We found out for ourselves during a recent test drive of the CX-9’s range-topping Signature trim level. It came it at an as-tested $46,710 including destination — a lot of money for a family-focused SUV, though this Mazda looks and drives like it comes from a luxury brand.
You can read our complete review of the Mazda CX-9 above, but for a breezier approach to some of the things we love along with items that dropped the ball, keep scrolling.
Things We Like
1. MX-cellent Ride and Handling
Mazda captured some of the outrageously fun MX-5 Miata roadster in this a three-row SUV. The Miata is a rear-drive sports car, of course, but the CX-9 wants to play, too. It rides firmly but comfortably, while the precise steering encourages you to enjoy the time behind the wheel. Have a new family and worry that settling down means driving a dull dad- or mom-mobile? Fear not: Mazda created a fun-to-drive car with room for seven (at least technically— more on that later).
2. Sporty Turbocharged Engine
Powering the CX-9 is a smooth turbocharged engine that delivers 227 horsepower (250 hp on 93-octane premium fuel) and a substantial 310 pounds-feet of torque. In our review, we praised this punchy motor for providing plenty of power whenever you need it. It pairs with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission, too.
3. Luxurious Cabin Filled With Quality Trim
Granted, our CX-9 Signature was loaded with cabin materials unavailable in lesser trims, like Napa leather and Rosewood dashboard trim. But the finishes are handsome, and the interior design is attractive.
4. Strong Safety Record
The CX-9 earned top safety scores in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though its top-rated automatic emergency braking system and headlights aren’t available on all trim levels. It also scored a perfect five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Things We Don’t
1. Cramped Third Row
Having extra seating is handy, but the third row in the Mazda CX-9 is best for kids. Legroom and headroom are tight, and outward visibility is limited by the tapering tail and narrow side windows. Rivals like the Pilot and Atlas offer roomier third rows.
2. Less Cargo Room Than Rivals
Cargo room is also skimpy. With the rear seats in place, you have only 14.4 cubic feet of room — enough for errands, but longer treks with passengers andluggage could cause issues.
3. Frustrating Tech Items
We liked some of the CX-9’s tech touches, such as the head-up display, but others need work. For starters, image quality on the available surround-view camera is pixelated. The blind spot monitors aren’t as easy to see at a glance versus other such systems. And the dashboard touchscreen locks you out when the vehicle is in motion, which is downright dumb. On the move, controlling Apple CarPlay or Android Auto requires a silver knob on the center console. It works, but the feature is far better when operated via the touchscreen.
More From Cars.com:
- How Do Car Seats Fit in a 2019 Mazda CX-9?
- 2018 Mazda CX-9: What’s Changed
- Research the 2019 Mazda CX-9
- Which Cars Have Third-Row Seating for 2019?
- Which 2019 Three-Row SUVs Offer Captain’s Chairs?
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