2017 Mazda CX-9 review with video

The Basics:

Base price: $35,600 + taxes
As tested: $47,400 + taxes (GT trim plus optional technology package)
Our average fuel economy over a week: 10.2 L/100 kms (23 US MPG)
Competition: Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander, etc

When the Mazda CX-9 was finally redesigned for 2016, it took the SUV world by storm. Its ridiculously good looks, exceptional standard equipment, gratifying performance yet impressive fuel economy has created a real winning combination. In fact, it won both our Family Wheels best surprise of the year award and best interior award for 2016. And that’s resulted in a solid spike in sales here in Canada, too – with a 65% jump year-to-date. There aren’t many changes for 2017 – smart city brake support helps avoid slow speed collisions between 4 and 30 kms/hr and is now standard on all trims, as well as an auto dimming rearview mirror. For our full review, check-out the video above and then scroll through our list of pros and cons below.

Pros:
– Such a looker! The CX-9 has adopted Mazda’s dynamic, fast-looking KODO design which is coupled with high-end, made in Japan build quality
– You might think that getting rid of the old V6 and going with a 2.5 L turbocharged four cylinder engine in a car of this size isn’t going to cut it but there’s minimal turbo lag and great power when you need it with quite a bit more torque compared to everything from the Hyundai Sante Fe XL to the Acura MDX
– Standard equipment, with the exception of AWD, is really exceptional. It includes: heated front seat (not standard in the US), 8-way power driver’s seat, 3 zone climate control, 7 inch infotainment system, three rows of seating, LED headlights and tail lights, 18 inch alloy wheels
– The signature level trim floored us as one of the best interiors we’ve ever seen, even when compared to some $90,000 European competitors we’ve tested
– So it’s a bit of a chameleon – competing with lower priced vehicles like the Kia Sorento or Ford Explorer in the base GS trim but also going hard after the Acura MDX or even Audi Q7 in the Signature trim
– The CX-9 has been awarded a Top Safety Pick + rating for 2017 by the IIHS
– Passenger legroom is very respectable offering slightly more second row legroom than the Honda Pilot and on par second row comfort to the Explorer but 2 inches less in the third row compared to the Pilot
– 1082 L of trunk capacity behind the second row is on par with many others in the segment but is quite a bit smaller than the 1583 L in the Pilot

Cons:
– All wheel drive is not standard and bumps the base price up by $2500
– Something’s gotta give with the smaller engine. And in the case of the CX-9 is a relatively weak 3500 lbs towing capacity. This is significantly less than most other SUVs in this size category
– The infotainment system is not very intuitive and doesn’t give you a one stop home screen like we see from Ford or Kia. There’s also no Apple Carplay or Android Auto
– Some luxury features are lacking on the Signature trim. Things like heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, 360 parking camera and a larger panorama sunroof are needed for it to be a true luxury competitor
– At the end of last year’s test of the CX-9, the paint flaked off on me in a couple of spots at the car wash. I was not able to duplicate this in the 2017 model
– While the back seat is spacious and comfortable, there is a hump on the floor in the middle seat position that makes it uncomfortable for taller children or adults. Many competitors have been able to eliminate this hump
– The car seat anchor points are challenging to reach
– The trunk sill is quite high – which will be challenging for smaller or older family dogs
– And the lift gate on the back of the CX-9 is quite low so taller people will find themselves hitting their head on it constantly

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4.5/5 (61 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 41/50= 82%

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