2020 Mazda CX-9
This week we are reviewing the 2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature. Our vehicle was assembled at the Hiroshima Plant in Japan and had an MSRP of $51500.00 CAD.
Fun Factor: 8
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 5
City Cruising: 6
Hands down the CX-9 is the most enjoyable 3-row SUV in its segment while also being affordable. Mazda has somehow even outdone their German counterparts in making an SUV that drives more like a car and still possesses the characteristics people want from an SUV. Handling is great, the steering wheel does feel light in certain instances, and it could be just a tad bigger for the North American market, in our opinion. On the other hand, the CX-9 can take quick inputs without upsetting the chassis. Around sharper bends, the body does lean a little, however, never to the point that feels unsettling.
We decided to drive the CX-9 with the family around île d'Orleans to pick delicious strawberries and later on to enjoy the region of Chaudière-Appalaches with its beautiful mountain roads. We made use of all 6 seats during our test; our vehicle was equipped with the captain chairs in the 2nd row. Like most three-row SUVs, the 3rd row provides space more suitable for children and the trunk space is limited when all seats are taken. You'd have to place most luggage in the cabin and have space for an umbrella stroller and diaper bag in the trunk. This might be the only deal-breaker when it comes to the CX-9; for our getaway, we each had a backpack and a cooler bag. Otherwise, the interior looks premium and makes you feel like you're driving a more expensive vehicle. It takes a lot of its styling cues from German manufacturers while keeping true to its Japanese roots. Mazda seems to have a philosophy of trying to excel when it comes to improve on the little details. As a family, we appreciated the seat belt indicator, an icon displays when a passenger didn't buckle their seat belt even those in the 3rd row. Other details include the ventilated seats that both the driver and co-pilot have; instead of blowing air, it pulls air. This method works better when humidity is high compared to traditional ventilated car seats; they are also quiet compared to others we have tested in higher-end vehicles. During long rides, the front seats felt very comfortable; even a taller driver will find a comfortable seating position and get plenty of support. Finally, if the front seats had thigh support, they could easily outrank some of the offerings in the premium segment.
The observed fuel economy of the CX-9 during our test was as follows; in the city, we averaged 12.1L/100km, and on the HWY, we averaged 9.3L/100km. On our road test, we drove 1100km and averaged 10.3L/100km. Mazda announces 11.6 in the city and 9.1L/100km on the HWY. The outside temperature oscillated between +25c and +41c, and the air-conditioning was on at all times. The C02 emissions are at 244 g/km as per the 2020 Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption guide.
In our real-life acceleration test to 100km/h from a standstill, it took us 7.35 seconds. This result might improve if using premium fuel, at the time of our test, we drove with regular 87 octane fuel. The CX-9 uses a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission that feels quite sporty and reacts quickly when overtaking on the HWY. Even if the Horsepower figures are lower than its competitors, the CX-9 feels quick and agile. So much so that we would feel comfortable driving it on the German Autobahn. On long stretches, the CX-9 felt so enjoyable to drive that after setting cruise control for about a few minutes, we wanted to take back control.
The one point we wish Mazda would improve is the audio system, specifically the Bose System. It's not a secret that we find that these systems are subpar, and this isn't Mazda's fault at all. You will see these same systems in a Porsche, and their performance isn't flattering. It might be decent for everyday use; the audiophile might not enjoy it as much. The infotainment of the CX-9 is simple and can be controlled using the click wheel. While the screen isn't of the best resolution inside the Mazda system when in use with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the resolution improves drastically. Other commands like the climate controls are easy and intuitive to use. The heads up display is projected to the windshield and displays clear information, coupled with the smart layout; it makes it almost unnecessary to take your eyes off the road!
The doors of the CX-9 open wide enough so that you don't need to fiddle around to get your car seat inside. In our variant with the captain chairs in the middle, we had ISOFIX ports hidden by a plastic cover that needs to be removed completely with a pinch of your hands, once removed it will be important to store them, so they don't get lost. Front-facing seats can be set up so that no space from the front seats is taken away; however, it will take some of the space away from the passenger in the 3rd row. Access to the rear seats can only be done via the outward seats as the second row has a central console to store small items.
The 2nd-row seats can move forward and backward when a child seat is installed to let small children get to their rear seats. Finally, toddlers may require some help opening the door to get inside the vehicle. Once inside, the step is low enough for children to access the cabin and then jump into their car seat.
In the city as much as on a winding road, the CX-9 provides enjoyment. The agility is somewhat surprising with a vehicle this length and makes parking look easy. We would like future models to include a start/stop function to lower emissions in the city and or even a hybrid system. You never know with Mazda they might reinvent the wheel and make these systems more interesting for users like they've done in the past when it came time to improve the combustion engine.
Why would we buy the 2020 Mazda CX-9, or what we liked about it? If you want a fun 3 row SUV, the Mazda CX-9 should be on top of your list. Great handling, user-friendly controls and comfortable seating. 3rd row is functional.
Why we would not buy the 2020 Mazda CX-9, or what we did not like about it? The minimalistic trunk when all seats are in use. We disliked the sound quality of the Bose sound system. To make the most of the seating, the 7-passenger version might be more useful if trunk space is important to you or use this one as a 5 seater.
Mazda has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Mazda Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.
Below are additional picture from the CX-9 and our road trip.