Estimated reading time:4 minutes, 57 seconds
Photography by Jaze Haze Photography
FEATURED TRIM $45,655…MSRP $44,315
Your vehicle is an extension of you, at least I think so. Who says it needs to be boring just because you have familial responsibilities? Back in the day, you loved your ride with all its low-tech quirks and occasional unreliability. It, however, always put a smile on your face each time you sat in the and went for a spirited drive. Mazda’s answer to the above – for a family hauler that is, is the 2017 Mazda CX-9 AWD Signature. Mazda calls its midsize SUV, the “Drivers SUV”. My particular model was finished in Machine Grey Metallic with Auburn (mocha color) leather interior. The current CX-9 was refreshed in 2016 and essentially carries over unchanged for 2017. It is available in 4 trim levels Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature, my tester.
Gone is the previous 6 cylinder on past models, now replaced with a 2.5L 4 cylinder Turbo engine. This engine produces 227HP/310FTft/lbs, Mazda claims 250HP with Premium gas – very believable, but of more note is the 310ft/lbs of torque – more on that later. AWD, 20″ dark chrome finish wheels, heated power mirrors with integrated turning LED lamps, automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and taillights. A power moonroof, power front seats, although the front passenger seat somehow omits a seat height adjustment? An 8″ color display is mounted on the dash serving up Navigation, infotainment and vehicle system settings. This all rounded up with a 12 speaker BOSE sound system. On the safety front, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist (this will actually steer if required), Smart Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Front and Rear backup sensors with rear camera – the usual suspects. With the included HUD (Heads Up Display), current speed, posted speed limit signs, radar cruise control and associated safety functions (when enabled) are all displayed nice and bright on the windscreen. The HUD is also adjustable for height, brightness and horizontal positioning, Mazda thought of it all.
The interior is finished in Nappa Leather with aluminum and genuine Rosewood. In fact, Mazda claims the wood is actually produced by a Japanese guitar manufacturer and I don’t doubt that! The whole interior is very warm and rich looking, belying its price and class. A level of understated luxury you would typically associate with vehicles costing $10-$15K more! One nice feature that I didn’t think I would have use for, was a volume control knob right next to the rotary control for the infotainment system. You don’t realize it, but when driving your hand naturally falls to that area and it was very convenient to make adjustments – even though there is a redundant control on the steering wheel. I found myself using that more often than not. Seating is good, but I did wish that the front seats were a touch wider in the seat bottom as well as the seat backs, it felt just a wee bit snug. They did, however, have 2 position memory seating with mirror adjustments, adjustable lumbar support, and heat. Rear seats are 60/40 split with a center armrest that had 2 integrated USB ports. Rear climate control was fully digital with control of both temperature as well as fan speed, most vehicles in this class typically have just vents that open or close. Third-row seat accommodations I would reserve for adults on short trips or best utilized by children. A power open and closing liftgate could be controlled from the key fob, interior or at the tailgate. The “kick” to open feature other vehicles is not available, perhaps for a future mid-cycle refresh? Mazda reports about 14.4 cu/ft behind the 3rd row and 38.2 and 71.2 respectively behind 2nd and first when they are folded down. Plenty of room for cargo and people though a tad smaller than it’s competitors in its midsize class.
Living with this 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD series was a blast. Power from the 2.5L 4 cylinder turbo was quite impressive. For a midsize SUV with 7 passenger seating the vehicle was quick and handled really well. A tribute to it being one of the lightest vehicles in its class. Having driven other SUV’s, I think for a vehicle of its size, this was probably the easiest to live with. It definitely drove home Mazda’s tagline of the “Driver’s SUV”. Acceleration was smooth and the shifts from the 6-speed auto transmission engaged without much fuss. I believe Mazda’s “secret sauce” to be the torque of this little motor. With 310ft/lbs, it rivals some of its slightly larger competitors such as the Honda Pilot, GM triplets (Acadia, Enclave, Traverse) even though they have larger V6 engines. For a people mover such as these, it is torque, that initial “push” that you need to get the vehicle going, and the Mazda delivers. At speed or cruising around town, the interior was quiet and comfortable. I never once felt that I was driving a 7 passenger vehicle.
Is it obvious I like this vehicle? If I did have to point out any flaws, they would be as follows; the rear view camera needs an upgrade in resolution, images appear like a VGA-grade camera from the ’90’s; it could also benefit from not having the “fish-eye” lens display, plus maybe add distant trajectory lines. It also gets dirty and water obscures the camera rather easily. Others include the lack of seat height adjustment for the front passenger and wider seat bottom and backs. All that aside, if you truly still enjoy to “drive” and need to satisfy your adult responsibilities, don’t wish to break the bank – take a good look at the 2017 Mazda CX-9. It is worth a test drive, you just might be convinced.
- Price as tested: $45,655
- MSRP: $44,315
- HP: 227 HP, (250HP, Premium fuel)
- Fuel economy: 20/26
- Vehicle Provided by MazdaUSA – CX-9
Photography by Jaze Haze Photography