MG 6428

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Review

MG 6428
2017 Mazda CX-9
AWD Capability
Luxurious Interior
Abundant Features
No Heated Steering Wheel

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 offers up three-row seating, abundant features, and plenty of safety tech for growing families. But it’s the driving dynamics that set this family hauler apart from the seven-passenger SUV segment. In the top Signature trim, the CX-9 is exploring new territory, and that puts it up there with some of the luxury brands.

It’s the most luxurious in this class.

We recently drove the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature trim with all-wheel drive.

What’s New For 2017

Not much has changed except for the Mazda CX-9 Touring trim now comes standard with Smart City Brake Support. On the Signature trim, it comes standard as well.

Features & Options

The top-of-the line 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD ($44,315) comes standard with plenty of features for families. It has 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, 60/40-split folding second-row seats, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, and a rearview camera.

It also comes with heated mirrors, a power lift gate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed emergency braking (Smart City Brake Support), heated front seats, premium leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (four-way front passenger seat), an 8-inch infotainment display, and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.

Other features include LED fog lights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a sunroof, and adaptive cruise control.

Safety tech includes lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors, upgraded frontal collision warning and mitigation systems, and a heads-up display. Driver-seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle-row seats, aluminum interior trim, and additional interior lighting are also included. Navigation, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and satellite radio are standard; the Signature variant also adds exterior LED accent lighting and rosewood interior trim.

Total MSRP including destination: $45,855.

Interior Highlights

Comfortable and upscale are the two best words to describe the cabin of the XC-9 Signature trim. This top-trim makes liberal use of plush materials on the inside that we usually see in premium luxury vehicles. The fit and finish is tight, and the quality of materials are the best in this three-row crossover class. The CX-9 feels larger than it looks on the outside, and there’s plenty of room for taller adults.

The front seats are extra comfy and they won’t leave you tired at the end of the day, as we found out on two longer trips to Colorado Springs this week. The interior is extra comfortable for those long commutes, and for taking the family on a trip to the mountains for a weekend ski trip. The second row will easily accommodate two adults, and the third row is ideal for kids. There are two complaints we have, however: The front and rear doors are relatively short and we found ourselves hitting our head when we got out. There’s no heated steering wheel, which is a surprise for this top trim.

The CX-9 will hold as much cargo as most families will need, although it’s less than competing SUVs and crossovers. The power liftgate made it easy to load the extra cargo we had this week. 

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 227 horsepower and a healthy 310 lb-ft. of torque. It sends power to all four wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on the Signature model.

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 20/26 city/highway and 23 combined mpg.

Driving Dynamics

We think the CX-9 drives much smaller than its actual size. It has Mazda’s sporty nature, which driving enthusiasts will appreciate. It’s nimble in city traffic and has a smooth, comfortable ride on the open highway. The cabin is especially quiet due to the raked body style with very little wind noise even at 75 mph.

On curvy mountain roads west of Denver this week, we experienced some body lean, but overall, the CX-9 powers around the tight curves with little effort. The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine has more power than you would think for an engine this size and will satisfy most drivers.

The CX-9 had no trouble passing slower traffic, even at altitude in the rarefied air near Evergreen, Colorado. We had no trouble accelerating quickly when merging –  the 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport Mode is smooth and executes quick shifts when you need the extra boost. We had a heavy snow storm hit the west side of Denver that left us shut down for over an hour when they closed I-70. The all-wheel drive worked flawlessly and we had no trouble in the slick ice and snow that left others by the side of the road.

That said, we would characterize the CX-9 as one that gives the driver a feeling of confidence.


The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD trim delivers a level of luxury often seen in more expensive brands. Those who need a three-row crossover for commuting or taking the family on a ski trip on snow-packed roads will find the CX-9 will meet their needs. It delivers an impressive degree of comfort thanks to a smooth ride, quiet cabin, and a stylish raked design.

For more information about the CX9’s different trim levels, visit this page here.  

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2017 Mazda CX-9 Gallery

2017 Mazda CX-9 Official Site

Photos: Mazda North American Operations