New cx 9 mazda 2016

2016 Mazda CX-9 Review - Carrrs Auto Portal

CX-9 offers elevated experience with innovative technologies, new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine and premium, authentic materials

When the Mazda CX-9 made its world debut back in 2006, it was an epiphany: A midsize three-row crossover SUV that defied the conventional design cues and cumbersome driving experience expected of vehicles in its class. Despite being a large vehicle, CX-9 is, after all, still a Mazda. CX-9 quickly captivated the automotive industry, winning numerous accolades.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Now comes the encore: the latest, grandest expression of KODO—Soul of Motion design yet and the high-end model of Mazda’s new-generation lineup. Its cachet is elevated with a proud front fascia that cascades into crisp lines that flow to the rear. Its interior is nothing short of breathtaking, with available Auburn-colored Nappa leather, Japanese rosewood and aluminum. The focus was on authenticity; an experience rather than simply another commodity conveyance.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

With the new CX-9, engineers sought to instill driving dynamics befitting of a Mazda—agile handling, tight steering and a responsive, controllable powertrain. To do this, they found smart solutions to keep CX-9’s structure light, yet rigid, with SKYACTIV Technology. They developed a new turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine that delivers instant throttle response, class-leading torque and an estimated around 20-percent increase in fuel- efficiency, based on initial estimates of U.S. EPA testing cycles, making CX-9 among the most efficient vehicles in its class.

Just as CX-9 did nine years ago, the second-generation redefines expectations, aiming for no other target than to be uncompromising in any aspect a family may need or an individual may desire.

CX-9 Values

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

When developing the 2016 Mazda CX-9, Mazda’s marketing, design and engineering teams surveyed hundreds of previous, current and in-market drivers, developing a vision of how to focus its efforts to create a vehicle around the personal values of those driving it.

The driver of CX-9 was seen to be a caring husband or wife, a high-achiever, a busy parent—and, still, an individual with his or her own needs and aspirations. CX-9 was developed to indulge personal desires while satisfying rational needs for a practical, all- weather family vehicle. Values CX-9 drivers desire were found to be:

  • Personal aspiration – A gratifying self-expression that’s as nice to look at and sit in as it is to drive.
  • Effortless transition – Plenty of storage to reduce clutter for families and ease transition between personal, family and professional endeavors.
  • Easy parenting – CX-9’s features, such as its third-row access, were developed so that even children could use them. One second-row seat can even be folded forward while still accommodating a child seat so that it does not have to be removed.
  • Couples retreat – With an intricate design, indulgent interior ambience and fine craftsmanship, CX-9 serves as an atmosphere parents can enjoy, whether they’re ferrying kids to soccer practice or by themselves on a weekend vacation.

With those simple core principles in mind, designers, engineers and product planners collaborated in Mazda’s Japanese and North American offices over the next several years to build upon the vision that would become the new CX-9.

Attention to Detail

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

From the moment one steps foot into the new CX-9, that person is greeted by an atmosphere of beauty and detail. Even the door jambs are finished with a level of precision that lends an air of sophistication.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Once seated, passengers notice a vertically stacked center console with details that wrap around from the dashboard to the rear seats, designed to envelop passengers in comfort and serenity. The fact that there is more than 53 pounds of sound deadening installed below the floor in three sections only complements the calm aesthetic.

A sweeping single piece of aluminum adorns the dashboard, emphasizing width, with a forward-angled dashboard that is flanked with Auburn accents in the new, flagship Signature trim level. Satin and polished finishes on the aluminum plinth evoke Japanese craftsmanship and are inspired by Japan’s famous hand-made knives.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Further heightening the elegant atmosphere is rosewood trim on the center console and front of the cabin, supplied by a premium guitar-maker. Supple Auburn Nappa leather covers seating surfaces in Signature trim with a modern design and is also evocative of bespoke horse saddles—a subtle nod to Mazda’s Jinba Ittai—“horse and rider as one”— philosophy. Jinba Ittai also represents the notion that drivers should have utter confidence and control in their vehicles.

Athletic Stance

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

KODO’s strength lies in proportion—a long hood, swept greenhouse, large wheels and short overhangs convey stability and a contained sense of energy ready to be unleashed. At 199.4 inches (5065mm) long, CX-9 is 1.2 inch (30mm) shorter than its predecessor, but its wheelbase has been stretched 2.2 inches (55mm), benefiting passenger leg room as well as entry to and exit from the rear.

CX-9 carries shorter overhangs on both ends—2.3 inches (59mm) shorter up front and 1 inch (25mm) shorter in the rear—with its A-pillars shifted back 3.9 inches (100mm), lengthening its hood and adding a sense of strength through proportions.

Housing large wheels— 18 and 20-inch wheels—CX-9’s tapered fenders are pushed to the edge of its body, giving the vehicle a wide, trapezoidal stance.

The smooth lines start up front with a bold, five-point grille with double bars. They’re flanked on either side by standard low- and high-beam LED headlights. The bold grille introduces a strong lower body and sleek upper body that elevates KODO, introducing sleek curves that provide a premium appeal in a segment awash with convention. The overall effect is one of purity, simplicity and Japanese beauty.

Machine Gray

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Designed to make CX-9 look as though it were carved from a single ingot of steel, Machine Gray is the newest signature color from Mazda, complementing CX-9’s surfacing.

In order to do achieve its look, perfect, blemish-free panels are a necessity, which come as a result of ultra-precise stamping and assembly. Paint is applied in a primer, a black base coat to add depth, the Machine Gray color and, finally, a clear coat—all spaced out such that the paint has time to set in a precisely climate-controlled environment. But that does little to describe the engineering complexity behind such a breathtaking color.

Machine Gray has a depth and luster usually reserved for concept vehicles, using principles and processes adopted from lessons learned when developing signature color Soul Red.

Additionally, CX-9 will be available in Soul Red, Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Jet Black, Deep Crystal Blue and Titanium Flash (colors may not be available in all markets).

Introducing the Turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T Engine

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Absolute control, absolutely. This is a hallmark of Jinba Ittai. When a driver puts his or her foot down on the accelerator, a vehicle should do what the driver expects, harmoniously working to find the right gear at the right engine rpm to deliver the performance called upon for a given situation.

Throughout the SKYACTIV engine series, Mazda has never focused on the numbers that appear in the catalog. Rather, Mazda aims to offer customers a combination of great performance in everyday driving situations and excellent fuel economy. And Mazda’s engine development philosophy is to offer these two factors by combining the right displacement with the simplest configuration of technologies, as best suits each class of vehicle.

Based on this philosophy, Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine family has delivered it promise of combined performance and fuel economy, and it continues to do so with the introduction of the new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T. But how did Mazda land upon the decision to create this new engine?

When Mazda’s engineers set out to design a new engine specifically for CX-9, they looked at how drivers used their vehicles. Customers want effortless acceleration through bountiful torque delivery, so engineers developed the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T with enough power and torque to provide ample acceleration without having to hunt through the gears.

Customers also expect top-notch fuel economy—not just on a catalog label, but in the real world, too. Mazda had a clean sheet from which to design a new powerplant. A large- displacement, naturally aspirated engine could deliver instant performance, but it would lack fuel-efficiency. A small-displacement, naturally aspirated engine could deliver fuel- efficiency, but it would sacrifice a premium performance feel. Finally, turbocharged engines often promise both effortless acceleration and high fuel-efficiency, but oftentimes, in the real world, their efficiency is not much better than a larger-displacement engine. Turbocharged engines can also “lag” before their turbocharger spools up, creating a sluggish, disappointing driving sensation when power is called upon.

However, Mazda’s latest engine, the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T, is a realization of excellent real- world and catalog fuel-economy as well as spry acceleration, featuring a host of technological advancements to achieve this goal.

One piece of technology is Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo, the world’s first turbocharger with the ability to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. The system routes engine exhaust to the turbocharger’s turbine through smaller ports at low rpm. It works similarly to when one might place his or her thumb on a garden hose, creating a strong amount of pressure through a smaller outlet. This allows the turbocharger to spool up quickly, creating instant boost—up to 1.2 bar (17.4 psi) of pressure. When the engine is in the heart of its rev range, it opens up secondary valves, allowing for greater amounts of exhaust gas to pass through the turbocharger. The system is complemented by the 2.5-liter engine that already benefits from more torque at atmospheric pressure than a comparable 2.0-liter by virtue of its size.

Further assisting CX-9 to maximize turbocharger efficiency is a 4-3-1 exhaust. With this setup, the exhaust from the middle two cylinders (2 and 3) is joined into a single port, while the exhausts from the outer cylinders (1 and 4) each have their own ports. These three ports come together at the entrance to the turbocharger’s exhaust side, where there is always one exhaust pulse arriving every 180 degrees of crankshaft rotation. Not only does this very compact manifold keeps the exhaust pulses separate for maximum energy extraction, it also harnesses each exhaust pulse to suck the residual exhaust from the adjacent ports.

That only tells so much of the story. In order to increase fuel-efficiency, SKYACTIV-G 2.5T employs the efficient combustion of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine and marries it to a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, which helps prevent burning excessive amounts of fuel when the engine is running at higher temperatures. In many turbocharged cars, heat is controlled through adding more fuel to the combustion chamber; Mazda’s cooled EGR reduces the need for that.

While Mazda sees no discernible benefits on regulated test cycles from this technology, it benefits the consumer through real-world gains.

The cooled EGR helps bring engine temperatures down from approximately 500 degrees C (932 F) to just over 100 degrees C (212 F), allowing SKYACTIV-G 2.5T to operate with a compression ratio of 10.5:1—one of the highest numbers of any gasoline-powered, turbocharged engine.

The net result: 310 lb-ft (420 N-m) of torque at a low 2,000 rpm and 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm on 93-octane gasoline (227 horsepower on 87-octane gasoline). At 55 mph (88 km/h), a driver needs just 18 horsepower to maintain speed on flat roads with a front- wheel-drive model—a four-horsepower reduction versus the outgoing model, illustrating reduced friction in all parts of the driveline and enhanced aerodynamics.

Additionally, as an example of CX-9’s readily available power, in the outgoing CX-9, when a driver needed 90 horsepower at highway speeds, the vehicle would have to downshift from sixth to fourth gear. However, the new CX-9 can more quickly draw upon that power with faster, better-controlled throttle response and stay in sixth gear, allowing for a smoother operation and a greater sense of confidence.

When coupled with a weight reduction of over approximately 198 lbs. (90 kg) versus the outgoing model, CX-9 boasts improvements in driver control, chassis dynamics and performance—all leading to a greater sense of confidence from behind the wheel.

Lightweight SKYACTIV Technology and NVH Refinement

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

All of Mazda’s sixth-generation vehicles were faced with the program objective of losing weight and increasing efficiency, which would go toward delivering a more engaging driving experience as well.

With CX-9, even including safety and rigidity goals, engineers far exceeded objectives—so much that 53 lbs. of sound-deadening mats were added back into the body in for reduced NVH, placing it among the quietest vehicles in its class. In all, the new CX-9 lost approximately 198 lbs. (90 kg) in front-wheel-drive configuration and approximately 287 lbs. (130 kg) when equipped with predictive i-ACTIV AWD.

The weight savings allowed Mazda engineers to increase window thickness to 4.8mm and rethink active noise-cancelling technologies, in addition to using simpler, more rigid parts, to reduce noise. At 62 mph (100 km/h), interior noise levels have been reduced by 12 percent from the previous model and road noise levels have been reduced by 2.0 dB.

Safety at the Forefront

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Mazda has been a leader in building safer vehicles through several methods:

  • Provide an optimum driving environment with well-positioned controls, easy-to-read instruments, minimal driver distractions and good visibility.
  • i-ACTIVSENSE, which provides active safety features like Mazda Radar Cruise
  • Control (MRCC) and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM).
  • Passive safety, which is designed to make the structure and onboard features such that they protect occupants in the case of an accident.

Mazda’s class-leading chassis dynamics and outstanding HMI technologies adhere to Jinba Ittai, advancing the notion of purposeful technology that reduces clutter and improves the driving experience. A lighter, yet more rigid, chassis and straight load-path frame rails integrated into the unibody secure crash protection in the event of a collision and lighter weight improves braking performance with 12.6-inch (320mm) ventilated front disc brakes and 12.8-inch solid rear discs (325mm). Those brakes are unchanged in size from the previous model, but they now have approximately 198 fewer lbs. (90 kg) to halt.

CX-9’s i-ACTIVSENSE suite1 features new and notable safety features, including:

  • Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM): Employing a 24 GHz radar on each side of CX-9, ABSM can detect vehicles closing in from as much as 164 ft. (50m) away.
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC): Operating at speeds between 30 km/h to 145 km/h (19 to 90 mph), MRCC uses millimeter wavelength radar to judge the relative speed and distance to the vehicle ahead. In accordance with the target speed set by the driver, the system automatically controls the engine and brakes to maintain the driver-selected vehicle speed and safer following distance, which is also adjustable by the driver. Because the driver does not need to operate the accelerator or brakes while using MRCC, the system relieves some of the burden on long drives. The radar sensor is capable of precise detection from a long distance, so its use allows the system to operate effectively in the rain, in backlit situations, and at night. It is also possible to turn off all of the system’s automatic functions and revert to conventional cruise control should road conditions make this more desirable.
  • Lane-Keep Assist System (LAS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW): Rather than keeping CX-9 centered in a lane between two lines as some systems do, which can cause an unnatural-feeling tug on the steering wheel, LAS, which is available in a Mazda for the first time in the U.S., helps ease CX-9 into turns. Meanwhile, LDW vibrates the steering wheel to warn drivers if they begin to stray from the lane. LAS will employ a progressive approach to assisting users to drive within lanes, but the system will deactivate after warning the driver if it senses he or she has taken his or her hand off the wheel.
  • High Beam Control (HBC): HBC allows users to keep high beams on at all times, dipping them when necessary when a camera built into CX-9 detects headlights from oncoming vehicles or tail lights. The system automatically switches to low beams below 19 mph (30 km/h), when they are unnecessary.
  • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS): Using an near-infrared sensor mounted to the windshield, SCBS operates between 2 and 19 mph (4 and 30 km/h) to apply the brakes in order to lessen the severity of an impending and inescapable collision at up to 20 ft. (6m).
  • Distance Recognition Support System (DRSS) and Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW): Uses a millimeter wavelength radar to display the distance of CX-9 to the vehicle in front of it in a five-step display, encouraging the CX-9 driver to lessen his or her speed if necessary. If distance between vehicles decreases and evasive action is necessary, audible and visual Forward Obstruction Warning signals will indicate that evasive action is needed.
  • Smart Brake Support (SBS): Operates at speeds above 9 mph (15 km/h) to automatically brake in the case of an impending collision.

i-ACTIV AWD Predicts Road Conditions for Maximum Stability

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

In 2013 when Mazda introduced its first full-SKYACTIV vehicle, CX-5, it also ushered in its i-ACTIV AWD system that could instantly recognize road conditions and adjust response accordingly. Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system in the previous CX-9 took approximately 10 factors into account, including on-road speed, engine rpm and wheel slip, among others. The information was then fed through the onboard computers that would modulate torque transfer between front and rear axles.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

i-ACTIV AWD upped the ante, implementing a host of other sensors that were already integrated into vehicles for other functions and channeling the information they presented such as ambient temperature, steering wheel angle, longitudinal grip, brake fluid pressure and even windshield wiper movement. In all, i-ACTIV AWD brings 27 different sensors together to paint a picture of road conditions and direct torque to the rear wheel as necessary, predicting what the driver may face on a slick road in the winter or in heavy rain.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

i-ACTIV AWD measures road conditions 200 times every second and can adjust power distribution to account for wheel slip even in dry conditions. It can even route power to limit understeer during spirited driving, sending as much as 50 percent of CX-9’s power to the rear wheels through Mazda’s proven six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission.

Family Vehicle, Couples Retreat

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

At its core, CX-9 is a family vehicle, with three rows, space for seven passengers and storage for every which item a family may need.

To maximize comfort for front-row passengers and space for those in the second row, engineers went to great lengths to redesign the front seats with thinner seatbacks, yet make them more comfortable.

For the first time in a Mazda, low-rebound high-damping urethane is used in the seat backs of the front seats as well as the seat cushions. This material transmits desirable feedback from the road surface to the driver, while filtering unpleasant vibrations from rough road surfaces, helping to realize the CX-9’ high-class ride comfort. The same material is used in the cushions of the second row seats as well.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

To get to the third row, Mazda’s engineers sought to make access so easy that even a child could do it with a single, simple lever. There are two LATCH/ISOFIX mounting points in the second row, with the right-side of the 60/40 split-fold seat having been designed to make it possible to accommodate a child seat staying in place while still allowing passengers third-row access.

At the rearmost of CX-9, the electronic module that raises and lowers the liftgate has been made more compact and 2.4 lbs. (1.1 kg) lighter and does not intrude upon cargo space. Two handy storage bins reside underneath the cargo floor for extra storage.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

CX-9 has “family” covered in spades, but it also offers an ambience of elegance and sophistication for those times when morning school runs or sports practices aren’t a priority.

Front passengers are greeted with elegant white LED accent lighting throughout their cabin space, with a backlight accenting the raised console and a spotlight guiding the driver to the center instruments.

Coupled with its sporting driving feel, torquey, responsive engine and refined ride, CX-9 is just as good at whisking passengers away to a weekend cabin retreat as it is at kids- shuttling duties.

The Heads-Up Cockpit

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Customers have high expectations for the technology desired in their vehicles, allowing them to connect to the outside world while in the comfort of their car. Conversely, Mazda’s core philosophies center around a focused driving experience, built on what it calls the Heads-up Cockpit design and complementing Jinba Ittai.

The resultant point where needs and wants converge helped create MAZDA (MZD) CONNECT, an infotainment suite designed around a distraction-free experience that still allows users to stream music, make hands-free calls and use other internet-based applications. MAZDA CONNECT uses both Bluetooth and cable-based connections via two USB ports accessible to front passengers for functions like Pandora or Aha by Harman music streaming.

New CX-9 comes with a seven-inch or eight-inch MAZDA CONNECT touchscreen infotainment system standing front and center for connectivity needs with commander control knob. Using both touchscreen functions when parked and a center-mounted commander control knob when on the move, MAZDA CONNECT intuitively and safety control radio, phone, navigation, diagnostic and phone functions. MAZDA CONNECT also enables voice controls for many functions as well as five shortcut buttons around the commander control for selecting favorite radio channels or enabling specific functions.

The driver also has an available 4.6-inch, full-color TFT screen in the gauges for many of these information readouts in addition to Active Driving Display, a full-color head-up display projected onto the lower windshield for readouts from the navigation, cruise control and other functions.

In back, passengers have two 2.1-amp USB ports available for charging smartphones or tablets, each mounted in the outboard passenger armrests.

Together, the technologies allow an unfettered driving experience while still allowing for the needs and wants of today’s drivers and passengers.

2016 Mazda CX-9 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Last but not least is the new Bose premium audio system, which is designed to deliver outstanding clarity, image and range. The 12-speaker system—two additional speakers from the previous CX-9’s Bose premium audio system—was benchmarked against stereos from ultra-premium crossover utility vehicles using several different audio formats, including radio and both full and compressed digital formats.

The Bose system in CX-9 was designed to be able to take compressed audio formats— often the go-to for many people—and tailor the frequency ranges of the audio files to better-simulate how the music would sound at a concert, with precise imaging and robust quality. Bose sound engineers worked with Mazda’s development team to acoustically tune CX-9’s interior, even going so far to develop silk tweeter covers specifically for CX-9 to make sure sound travels the way it was meant to do so.

But not forgetting Mazda’s commitment to lightweight engineering, the entire system was designed to be light, foregoing traditional, heavy magnets in some speakers for neodymium, accommodating for slim packaging while delivering passengers the best experience in all three rows with perfect clarity.

A Future of Possibilities

CX-9 is scheduled to go on sale in Spring of 2016 in the U.S. CX-9 represents a capstone for the new generation of Mazda cars and crossovers and a high-end model indicating what is to come with innovative powertrains, engaging driving dynamics, premium quality and the evolution of the award-winning KODO—Soul of Motion design ethos. With those qualities, Mazda aims to build the most emotionally stirring, captivating vehicles in the industry, elevating its brand to new heights around the world.


Recommended retail price (MSRP) starts from $29,985

Hot Post, Mazda, Mazda CX-9

There is such a thing as a sporty SUV, and it's Mazda's best-in-class CX-9

Mazda has always been known as a driver-oriented automaker. But in order to be a driver’s automaker, Mazda has to be a design and engineering company first. That’s key to understanding the new 2016 Mazda CX-9 mid-size SUV. Yes, you’re going to get the best-driving SUV in its class and price range, but it’s the underlying design and engineering work that really sets the CX-9 apart from its competition.

With the new model arriving to dealer showrooms in June, the new CX-9 is coming rather late to the market. But Mazda is releasing the CX-9 as a 2016 model, rather than skipping a model year and calling it a 2017. That might have been a marketing challenge, but the truth is that Mazda just waited to get the CX-9 exactly right. This is the last vehicle in the lineup to get the SKYACTIV engine and chassis improvements, and the last to be reworked with Mazda’s forceful KODO design cues.

KODO: Soul of Motion

Mazda really loves its design language. They’ve been working for more than 10 years to refine their implementation of Japanese nature concepts into their vehicles, and it shows. It started back in 2006 with Nagare, which translates to “wind” or “flow” and continued on through a series of concept cars and updates across Mazda’s product lineup.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

Kodo was introduced in 2010, and it’s a much more subtle set of features and cues. Like all good design, you might not know exactly why you like Kodo, but it’s enough just to know that you like it. Or not – one thing about Mazda’s design decisions is that there are a certain number of people out there who won’t like the style, and Mazda is okay with that.

On the new CX-9, you can see the latest evolution of the Kodo philosophy in the strong lines flowing back from the shark-nose grille to the taillights and rear surfaces. There’s no doubt that this is a vehicle set apart from the regular run of boring mid-size SUVs that look like an eggplant on wheels. There’s a promise of performance in the rakish CX-9.

Power and Economy

Few people know this, but Mazda earned the title of “most fuel-efficient automaker” from the EPA for the years 2013-2015. That’s a very good endorsement, but it’s more impressive when you realize that Mazda achieved their fuel economy without a single EV or hybrid in its portfolio, and they did it without resorting to the bland wind tunnel stylings that pervade the industry. This gets to the heart of Mazda’s engineering prowess.

In order to be a driver’s automaker, Mazda has to be a design and engineering company first.

In the new CX-9, Mazda’s engineering chops are most obvious in the new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the old V6. The new engine can run on regular or premium gas, which means you get to choose your horsepower output every time you tank up. If you spring for 93 octane premium, you’ll get 250 horsepower. On 87 octane regular fuel, you’ll still get a healthy 227 horses. Either way, you get 310 pound-feet of torque in full effect at 2,000 rpm. More importantly, that torque curve stays high right up to redline, so the CX-9 has plenty of pull when you get on the gas, and it will tow 3,500 pounds.

Mazda gave the CX-9 a six-speed automatic transmission, and that’s another bold move in an era when eight and nine-speed gearboxes are becoming the norm, but this gearbox is far from a compromise. Transmissions with more gears are designed for engines with very narrow power bands, so they tend to hunt for the right gear before they can accelerate. Mazda’s engineers went the other way, using their fat 310 pound-feet of torque to pull through with fewer gear ratios. The result is that the CX-9 doesn’t have to think about it before it responds to throttle, and it pulls like a big V6.

On top of that, the CX-9 also returns best-in-class fuel economy. With front-wheel-drive, you’ll see 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. Choosing AWD drops the numbers only slightly to 21/27/23. Not a huge dip, right? Here’s why.

The Soul of a Sports Car

While Mazda makes some great engines, you’ll really find the soul of the CX-9 in the chassis and suspension. That’s where the CX-9 really stands apart from the competition. Most mid-size SUVs have a tendency to wallow in curves and plow like a farm tractor during even moderate cornering, but the CX-9 delivers a tighter, more controlled driving experience, without harshness. It’s worth noting that the same group of engineers who tuned the suspension in the MX-5 Miata also developed the CX-9.

A big part of the driving experience of the CX-9 comes courtesy of the i-ACTIV All-Wheel-Drive system. The i-ACTIV system is mostly invisible because you don’t have to do anything to activate it and the AWD take-up is so smooth that you’ll probably never notice that it’s working. I spent a bunch of time playing with i-ACTIV on several other Mazdas in the snow last winter, and the system is ingenious in its design and execution.

When they developed i-ACTIV, Mazda engineers noted that a tremendous amount of data is moving around the vehicle from up to 27 different sensors. If you look at that data in the right way, you can infer quite a bit about what’s going on both inside and outside of the vehicle. So by considering factors like outside temperature, weight transfer, steering angle, and even the windshield wiper setting, the i-ACTIV system can make very good decisions about the level of AWD needed at that moment and in the next moment to come, up to 200 times per second. By integrating a super-fast electromagnetic clutch on the rear differential, Mazda developed a truly predictive AWD system that comes on seamlessly just when it’s needed, and otherwise leaves the system free to run at it’s most efficient settings. That’s how you can get the stability and traction benefits of AWD but trade away only 1 mpg for it.

Luxury You Didn’t Expect

We all expect a Mazda to be sporty; that’s a given. What we don’t usually expect is for a Mazda to have a luxury SUV interior, but you can get that on the CX-9. The top Signature edition and the Grand Touring trim levels offer a passenger compartment as well-appointed as anything from Lexus or BMW. The tradeoff is that those interiors don’t come for free, and some shoppers might be surprised to find themselves shopping for a Mazda over $40,000.

Mazda’s engineering chops are most obvious in the new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the old V6.

Going through the catalog, the CX-9 starts at $32,420 for the Sport edition. This is no penalty box, though. You’ll get quality cloth upholstery, a rear backup camera, and a seven-inch color display with the Mazda Connect suite of infotainment apps and connectivity. And you’ll get plenty of leg room in the back seat – this is an SUV that really can haul four full-size adults in perfect comfort, and seven passengers overall. There’s also a sport package for $950 that gives you heated front seats, heated mirrors, and power driver’s seat.

The Touring trim level adds leather upholstery and a bigger eight-inch display, plus safety and convenience features like keyless entry, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, a power lift gate, power front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror for $36,870. If you want a little more luxury, go for the Touring Premium package, which gets you navigation, a 12-speaker Bose audio system with SIRIUS/XM satellite radio, rear backup sensors, a sunroof, and automatic Smart City Brake Support. The Touring Premium package is just $1,745 on top of the Touring trim.

If you want to get into the luxury space, the Grand Touring model bumps you to 20-inch wheels, aluminum interior trim, a true heads-up display, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control with Smart Brake Support. The Grand Touring will cost you $41,070, and at any trim level up to this one, adding AWD tacks on $1,800 to the basic price tag.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide

At the top of the line, you find the CX-9 Signature edition. AWD is standard on this trim, and you get upgraded auburn-toned Nappa leather, rosewood trim supplied by Japanese guitar-maker Fujigen, and LED accent grille lighting that looks really cool at night. The Signature edition has everything, and will cost you $44,915.

Among all these trim levels, the best value is found in the Touring and Touring Premium models. You’re getting heated leather seats, plenty of extra safety gear, the bigger display screen, and navigation if you spring for Touring Premium. However, if you are okay with spending about the price of a base-model Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura crossover, you can get into that CX-9 Signature edition and drive a much better SUV for the same money.

Wrap it Up, I’ll Take It

Before you whip out your checkbook, there are some bits that could still be improved. The first one is cargo space – the CX-9 gives you 71.2 cubic feet of cargo space with all the rear seats down. With the third row down you get 38.2 cubic feet, and you get 14.4 cubic feet with all three rows of seats in use. That’s a bit less than many of the competitors, but it’s just a natural function of the CX-9’s exterior size and shape, and all that nice legroom in the second row. The CX-9 offers more cargo capacity than the Lexus RX350 and Acura MDX, but not as much as the Infiniti QX60, Toyota Highlander, or Honda Pilot.

The second demerit is simply the lack of support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The era of each automaker having a different app suite and means of integrating a smart phone is hopefully going to end soon. The rumor mill says that Mazda will offer support for these interfaces shortly, and that’s a good thing.

The bottom line is that if you loved your Miata, Mazda3, or Mazda6, but you need a bigger SUV than the CX-3 or CX-5, don’t be afraid to take a look at the CX-9. You’re going to find the same things you loved about other Mazdas, but in the size that your family needs. If you’ve been shopping the luxury competition but have never tried a Mazda, you definitely should check out the Signature CX-9. Dollar for dollar, the CX-9 will compete – and Mazda knows competition very well.


  • Powerful new turbocharged engine
  • Luxury SUV interior
  • Striking bodywork
  • Best-in-class ride and handling


  • Limited Cargo Space
  • No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay Support

2016 Mazda CX-9 First Drive

From engaging crossovers to its solid Mazda3 and 6 nameplates to the fantastic MX-5 Miata—one of our 2016 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars—Mazda has carved out a well-earned reputation as a producer of vehicles with dynamic driving characteristics, stylish exteriors, and proven powertrains. More recently, it has embarked on a mission to further lighten and sharpen its vehicle lineup.

Now, the purveyors of zoom are making another move, this time into the luxury zone, with the new 2016 Mazda CX-9. Arriving this summer, the second-generation CX-9 will feature an all-new Signature edition model designed to undercut rival three-row luxury offerings. But Mazda didn’t forget to make sure the CX-9 drives as well as its optional new Nappa leather interior trim looks.

Along the beautiful twisty mountain roads just north of San Francisco, the CX-9 drives like a much smaller vehicle, more station-wagon-like in its look and over-the-road feel than a hulking crossover. In fact, the new CX-9 is shorter than its predecessor by 1.2 inches, all while adding 2.2 inches to its wheelbase in an effort to improve the ride and open up more interior space.

Just as impressively, Mazda cut nearly 200 pounds from front-wheel-drive models of the 2016 CX-9 and almost 300 pounds from all-wheel-drive versions. The weight loss was achieved through the deployment of Mazda’s Skyactiv technologies, its holistic approach to reducing vehicle mass by employing smarter design techniques and using lighter materials.

There has been a trade-off or two in the name of chasing more of a luxury feel, however. Mazda could have cut even more weight, but instead decided to add 53 pounds of sound deadening materials to the new CX-9. It’s a move designed to cut interior noise so much that kids in the third row may now actually be able to learn new swear words whispered under their mother’s breath after someone cuts her off.

Not surprisingly, the new 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine Mazda has fitted to the CX-9 is far lighter than the outgoing V-6. The turbo-four provides ample power for the two-ton crossover, generating 250 hp at 5,000 rpm and a stout 310 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. In addition, Mazda developed a new system to keep the CX-9 from exhibiting too much turbo lag, what it’s calling Dynamic Pressure Turbo. A valve pushes exhaust through a smaller gate to the turbo at a lower rpm; as the engine rpm picks up, the valve opens to create a bigger path to the turbo.

During our time behind the wheel, we never felt a sudden rush as the turbo took over, just smooth, powerful acceleration with a linear feel when you mat the accelerator pedal. It’s the sort of direct response that adds to the driving feel.

When the going got twisty, the CX-9 held its line well. The steering felt crisp and the braking sharp. The new all-wheel-drive system also uses a predictive program to allow the CX-9 to recognize road conditions and adjust the power distribution before the driver even notices the adjustments. It’s continually collecting information from 27 sensors, including ambient temperature, steering wheel angle, brake fluid temperature, lateral grip—even windshield wiper movement—to help determine if the road might be wet. It does this 200 times a second and, when necessary, quickly reroutes power to the wheels to eliminate understeer by pushing as much as 50 percent of the power to the rear axle. During my day of test-driving the CX-9, I never noticed the transfer of power or much understeer in the CX-9, but then again, that’s entirely the point.

Mazda also loaded up the CX-9 with a suite of standard and optional safety and driver assist technology, including spot monitoring, radar-assisted cruise control, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning, high beam control, and smart braking features.

While the performance improvements are dramatic, things are as impressive in the cabin, if not more so. The 2016 CX-9 looks and feels much more luxurious than the outgoing model. The high-end Signature variant includes the aforementioned Nappa leather and rosewood trim. No one’s going to have any trouble getting comfortable in the first two rows, and while of course the third row is more ideal for kids, adults would have no problem going for an extended ride back there. The only real problem with the third row is ingress and egress. Although you can operate the seat from the third row by pulling a switch on the top of the second-row seat, the space can be difficult for an adult to squeeze through.

Mazda did improve the overall folding ability of the second and third row, and when both are down, the cargo space is immense and the floor is relatively flat. The only drawback to the new system is that the second row cannot be lowered from the back of the vehicle. Instead, you must open the second-row doors and reach in to lower the seats.

The CX-9 also comes with an adjustable-height power liftgate that can be operated with the touch of a button or by using the key fob—the kind of amenity a luxury buyer would only notice if the option wasn’t available. That said, although the six-speed automatic worked well, other competitors in the luxury crossover segment have moved to eight speeds or more.

Mazda also upgraded its stereo, working with Bose to develop a 12-speaker setup that offers great sound and can handle a multitude of digital formats. It’s all controlled though the Mazda Connect system, accessed primarily by spinning a dial in the center console to bring up functions on an 8-inch display screen floating at the top of the dash. The screen’s location was designed to keep the driver’s eyes as close to the road in front of them as possible. There are some quirks to the overall system, but it works well.

In addition, the instrument panel is highlighted by a small display screen that can access information by toggling a button on the steering wheel. The CX-9 also offers a head-up display that provides instrument and navigation information on the windshield. The focal point actually makes it appear as if the information is floating out above the hood of the vehicle so the driver’s eyes are on the road and the information at the same time. (Like many HUDs, the numbers are nearly invisible when wearing polarized sunglasses.)

While the CX-9 is first and foremost a big family hauler that will do the bulk of heavy lifting, shuttling kids, picking up groceries, and driving to work, it’s still a Mazda at its core. And that means if you dropped the kids off and want to get after it out on the open road on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the CX-9 will happily oblige.

It’s hard not to like the 2016 Mazda CX-9. It’s better than the outgoing model in virtually every respect. It’s smaller and lighter on its tires, it’s as nimble as any offering in its class, and the serious upgrades to its interior have it punching above its weight. It’s now a vehicle that’s worthy of being the flagship for the brand.

While Mazda will have a tough job ahead of it turning the heads of customers shopping for luxury vehicles in the three-row crossover segment, it’s now not out of the realm for them to seriously consider the CX-9 as viable option. They should. The CX-9 is that good.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Specifications

On Sale:  Summer 2016
Price:  $32,420 (FWD) (base)
Engine:  2.5L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/250 @ 5,000 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 5,000
Transmission:  6-speed automatic
Layout:  4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, FWD/AWD crossover
EPA Mileage:  21-22/27-28 mpg (city/highway)
L x W x H:  199.4 x 77.5 x 67.6 in
Wheelbase:  115.3
Weight:  4,054/4,301 lb (FWD/AWD)
0-60 MPH:  N/A
Top Speed:  N/A
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2016 Mazda CX-9

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The CX-9 is Mazda's flagship SUV. All-new for 2016, this 3-row, 7-passenger crossover SUV starts around $32,500 with a stylish exterior, premium interior, and a new turbocharged engine that deftly splits the power/efficiency equation. The Mazda CX-9 has always stood out from rivals like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer with its athletic driving manners, and this all-new version refines that dynamism. Thank Mazda's SkyActiv powertrain technology, which enables zippy performance and high fuel efficiency. The 2016 Mazda CX-9 completes the automaker's lineup of SkyActiv vehicles and signals another step forward into premium territory with the new Signature model. Like its rivals, the new CX-9 can be had with driving and safety aids like all-wheel drive (AWD), radar cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 puts the "fun" in "functional." If you want a mainstream 3-row SUV that is an adept family vehicle for school drop-offs and a rewarding personal vehicle for a spirited trip to the office or couples weekend getaway, this is it.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The CX-9 only seats seven, so you'll have to pick a rival like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot or GMC Acadia if you need to fit eight. If you're adamant about having a V6 engine or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, you'll also have to choose one of the Mazda's competitors.

KBB Expert Ratings
  • Overall Rating
  • Driving Dynamics
  • Comfort & Convenience
  • Design: Interior & Exterior
  • Value
  • Safety

How It Ranks

What's New for 2016

The Mazda CX-9 is all-new for 2016. Now in its second generation, Mazda's largest and priciest SUV receives a svelte new skin, plush interior, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and a host of safety and driving aids. The new, amenity-laden Signature trim could pass as a luxury SUV at a serious discount.

Driving the CX-9

Driving Impressions

Like most Mazda vehicles, the CX-9 has long been the most athletic, fun-to-drive SUV in its class. That remains the case with the all-new version. The biggest difference is how...

... Mazda's 3-row SUV gets its motivation. Where the former version used a strong V6, this new model is powered by a small-but-stout turbocharged 4-cylinder. Horsepower is down some, but torque is up immensely -- a big help for off-the-line acceleration. Moreover, it's more fuel efficient. The all-new Mazda CX-9 feels lighter, nimbler and even more athletic than its predecessor, while also boasting a quieter ride. Thankfully, the new CX-9's dynamic ways don't come at the cost of a stiff suspension. This one ably absorbs rough patches. Credit should also be given to the CX-9's automatic transmission, a 6-speed that's well-matched to this engine. Like other Mazdas, this one has a Sport mode that optimizes the engine and transmission for zippier performance, but we found it unnecessary.

Favorite Features

PREMIUM APPEAL, MAINSTREAM PRICE If you want more proof of the blurred line between mainstream and luxury, look at the 2016 Mazda CX-9. Specifically, look at the $45,000 Signature edition. Yes, that's real rosewood and aluminum accents surrounded by Nappa leather. Also included are Mazda's suite of active safety features and a premium Bose audio system. HIGH TORQUE, HIGH EFFICIENCY

The new engine in the CX-9 puts up impressive figures. Among them: 310 lb-ft of torque that enables prompt initial acceleration and 28 mpg, the highway fuel economy on front-wheel-drive (FWD) models.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Details


All Mazda CX-9s feature 3-row, 7-passenger seating. Adults fit fine in the second row, but the third row is best for kids or shorter trips. The front seats are roomy, and the area feels commanding thanks to a wide console. Nestled in that console is a rotary dial and auxiliary buttons controlling the CX-9's standard dash-mounted infotainment display. The view out front is good, and we like that the left windowsill is wide enough to rest an arm. The new CX-9 still trails rivals like the Honda Pilot in cargo room, but this new model has made it easier to load long and bulky objects with 2nd- and 3rd-row seats that fold flatter.


In addition to receiving the SkyActiv treatment like the rest of Mazda's lineup, the CX-9 now also gets Mazda's "Soul of Motion" design philosophy emphasizing sweeping forms, organic shapes, and the idea of movement even at rest. Whatever you call it, we think the new CX-9 is beautiful. That big grille up front adds to the premium cred, yet doesn't seem overboard. The tapering roof and forward stance make this SUV appear smaller than it is, and even its rear is pretty thanks to a horizontal treatment of the taillights and rear lip beneath the window. A pair of exhaust outlets further emphasize this SUV's sporty nature.

Notable Equipment

Standard Equipment

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is now available in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and the new Signature. Even if you spend the least on a base Sport model, you'll get some nice amenities like 3-zone climate control that includes a 2nd-row control panel, 7-inch color touch-screen display with rotary controller, rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels. However, unless you opt for a package, you'll still have to manually adjust the front seats. Standard tech includes the Mazda Connect system with voice command, Internet radio streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, and AM/FM/HD Radio with an auxiliary input and two USB inputs. Sorry, CD fans -- a compact disc player isn't even optional on the new CX-9.

Optional Equipment

We recommend springing for at least a Touring trim, which includes heated and power-operated front seats, leather trim, a power liftgate with adjustable height setting, a larger 8-inch command screen, keyless entry, and a total of four USB inputs. Grand Touring trims include navigation, 12-speaker Bose audio, a moonroof and a slew of safety/driving aids including blind-spot monitoring, radar cruise control, backup sensors, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking. Signature models have all-wheel drive standard (it's optional on all other models) and Nappa leather trim, genuine rosewood accents, and nifty LED accent lighting in the grille. Unlike rivals, the new CX-9 doesn't offer ventilated front seats or heated rear seats.

Under the Hood

All 2016 Mazda CX-9 models now use a new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that replaces the former 3.7-liter V6. This new engine has fewer horsepower than the outgoing one, but greater torque. That low-end torque, combined with sophisticated plumbing for the turbo system, makes this engine feel plenty strong. It's like a V6 in disguise. Benefits to the smaller size include reduced weight and greater fuel economy. Regarding horsepower, you'll see two figures: 250 is the max, running on harder-to-find 93 octane. Most drivers will opt for regular unleaded, on which the engine makes 227 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is the standard setup, with all-wheel drive optional and recommended if you live in a cold-weather state. All models use a 6-speed automatic transmission. The CX-9's towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 227 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm (250 horsepower w/ 93-octane) 310 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (FWD), 21/27 mpg (AWD)

Pricing Notes

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $32,420 for a base model. Touring trims bow at $36,870, and Grand Touring models start at $41,070. Adding all-wheel drive to any of those is an extra $1,800. The new, top-line Signature model that includes AWD standard starts at $44,915. At these prices, the new CX-9 begins slightly higher than rivals like the Highlander, Pilot and Explorer. But the price-to-features differential evens out or leans in the Mazda's favor as you climb trims. If you're simply looking for a low-priced 3-row SUV, there's the Mitsubishi Outlander, though that isn't as easy to recommend. Even harder, but it still exists, is the Dodge Journey. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new SUV. The Mazda CX-9's resale value has traditionally notched below rivals like the Highlander, but our number crunchers are still evaluating this all-new generation.

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