The Mazda CX-9 three-row crossover got a redesign for 2016, with new sheet metal and other upgrades to improve the driving experience. Mazda has improved on an already popular model in a competitive segment. Over the holiday weekend, we drove the range-topping CX-9 Signature. We liked the Nappa leather and rosewood trim, but does it come with Mazda’s patented Zoom-Zoom driving experience?
That’s what we wanted to find out.
What’s New For 2016?
Mazda says the new CX-9 comes with a quieter, smoother ride, and a quicker, more responsive powertrain.
Features & Options
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD ($44,015) comes standard with heated mirrors, a power liftgate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts, and heated front seats. We were also treated with Nappa leather upholstery and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support (front passenger’s seat is four-way power).
There is an 8-inch infotainment display and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.
The CX-9 Signature trim further dresses things up with 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors, frontal collision mitigation warnings, a heads-up display, driver seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle row seats, aluminum interior trim, additional interior lighting, a navigation system, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and satellite radio.
If that’s not enough, LED accent lighting and rosewood interior trim finish out the range-topping Signature CX-9.
Total MSRP including destination: $44,915.
Stepping inside the CX-9 Signature reveals a cabin that is befitting of an entry-level luxury model. It features two-tone red Nappa leather seats with rosewood trim on the doors and console for added effect. The contrast stitching on the seats, door panels, and steering wheel put on the finishing touches quite nicely.
The leather seats are comfy, but do get hot in the summer heat. Our passengers asked if the heated seats were accidentally switched on! We wish Mazda had offered air conditioned seats. The second-row seats are comfortable and offer lots of legroom for taller passengers. Our passengers appreciated the pull down shades and the climate control vents for extra comfort in the hot Denver sun.
The third row can seat two, but adults will feel cramped, especially on longer trips. It’s well suited for the younger kids in the family, however. There’s 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. With the rear seats folded, capacity expands to 38.2 cubic feet. With both seats stowed, it opens up to 71.2 cubic feet.
Looking at it from the outside, it seems like it would offer more cargo space. The CX-9 does come with a one-touch rear lift gate, which made it easy loading our fireworks for the weekend.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, producing 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Mazda says you can use either 87 or 93 octane gasoline. It produces 250 horsepower on 93 octane gasoline, as opposed to the aforementioned 227 horsepower on 87 octane.
EPA estimates for fuel economy are 21/27 city/highway and 23 combined with AWD.
The CX-9 features a six-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels by way of its i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system.
Mazda is known for their fun-to-drive vehicles. The CX-9 is a good performer but we would only rate it a 5 of 10 on the fun-to-drive meter. CX-9 is built more for comfort, a smooth ride, and quiet cabin, and excels in those ares. The ride quality is soft and compliant, even over rough surfaces and uneven pavement.
Mazda definitely designed the new crossover for comfort over sport.
We pushed the 7-passenger crossover hard up I-70 at altitude and the vehicle performed better than expected in power. We are guessing this tester had a full tank of premium fuel for the drive. The CX-9 has ample power in all driving situations, as we figure most won’t be driving consistently in the areas we were. Most families will not need premium either and can get by with the less expensive, regular gasoline.
The CX-9 is easy to drive and leaves you feeling rested after a long commute. We especially liked the heads-up display that you can see even with your sun glasses on, unlike some more expensive European models. The infotainment system was easy to figure out with a rotary dial on the console.
The 6-speed automatic was unnoticed which means gear changes were smooth and quick. At highway speeds, the cabin was insulated from noisy traffic too.
The all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature is a good family transporter with a luxury feel. It’s very easy to drive and will keep mom and the kids happy all week. It’s a vehicle with enough size to accommodate a growing family, but it won’t stretch the budget too far. If you need a three-row crossover that’s comfortable, smooth, and quiet, the CX-9 will fit your needs well.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
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Video: Morrie’s Minnetonka Mazda, 13700 Wayzata Blvd, Minnetonka, MN 55305