Seattle, March 27, 2015 — The 2015 CX-9 from Mazda continues much of what we have always loved about this mid-sized cross-over – a third row, ample room for the first two seating rows, nice gadgets, comfortable seating, ample power and a decent overall level of refinement for its price point. Even though it’s not perfect, there are many redeeming qualities about the CX-9 that make it worth a look.
Mazda sticks with its 3.7-liter V6 engine which is rated at 273 horsepower with 270 lb-ft. of torque which it develops at 4250 rpm. It delivers decent power but can feel a bit underpowered from scooting around all 4559 pounds of this all-wheel-drive CX-9.
Strapped to the engine is a 6-speed automatic transmission that thankfully is not a CVT piece of garbage. It’s a solid-feeling transmission that does a good job of getting to the right gears at the right time, however, we would like to see Mazda move to a 7 or 8-speed transmission down the road to help a bit with the fuel economy. Its EPA rating is only 16mpg around town and 22mpg on the highway – which seems a bit low for a vehicle in this class.
Our test model was the all-wheel-drive model which features Mazda’s active torque split technology. This system works to achieve a balance between a sporty feel and full traction under harsh weather like heavy rain as well as snow. It transfers the power and torque between the front and rear up to a 50/50 ratio. Real time data input on steering angle, yaw rate, lateral G force and engine status tell the system how to distribute power.
But what really makes the CX-9 a very good contender is its ride quality, comfort and other things that it just seems to do well. It has good handling, feels a nicely “light on its feet” for its size, has ample storage capacity with the third row of seats down and has a good road “feel” to it.
The infotainment system is good but it uses lower grade Bose speakers so the overall sound quality won’t rock your socks off any time soon. There’s support for all the staples of today’s music sources, include XM Radio, CD/WMA/Mp3, AM/FM and Bluetooth audio as well. Its on-board navigation system has graphics that are looking very dated at this point and its screen is rather small when compared to competing vehicles.
This Grand Touring edition also features some extra conveniences as well, such as a standard keyless entry and start system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a “Bordeaux” accent trim and can be packaged out with two available Bose Centerpoint audio systems – one has ten speakers and the other has eleven. In addition, the 11-speaker setup also has a nine-inch rear seat screen with DVD player and a 115v AC power outlet with game port.
Interior trim quality is rather good, all things considered – it doesn’t feel “cheap” and there isn’t an overuse of low-grade plastics used in the cabin area. Everything feels soft so to speak and definitely has a nice sense of refinement to it.
Safety measures include front air bags, side-impact curtain, rollover protection and front seat-belt pretensioners with force limiters. Anti-locking brakes are standard along with a dynamic stability control system which helps keep the vehicle level during evasive maneuvering.
Mazda backs the CX-9 with 3-year bumper to bumper / 5-year powertrain warranty that also includes free, 24/7 roadside assistance during the first three years. A good warranty but still not as long as those offered by Hyundai and Kia.
In the end, this 2015 model didn’t really need to bring a ton of improvements over the previous year – the CX-9 is that good. It’s a serious competitor in the mid-sized cross-over segment and is worth a test drive if you’re at all in the market. While it doesn’t offer the best fuel economy, it’s hard to dispute its overall value.
Slide Show: Grand Touring AWDRoad 2015 Mazda CX-9