When the standard is high, maybe bigger is better?
Mazda CX-9 Review & Road Test
When the standard is high, maybe bigger is better?
- 2010 Mazda CX-9; 3.7-litre, V6, 24 valve, DOHC, S-VT, petrol, six-speed automatic - $63,186
The Mazda CX-9 is a gutsy seven-seater of grand proportions and significant pomp. Who said size doesn’t matter? When the standard is high, maybe bigger is better?
Available in three specification levels; Classic $49,990, Luxury $56,990 and Grand Touring $63,186, the Mazda CX-9 caters to a variety of budgets.
I’m testing the range-topping Grand Touring, which sees me inexplicably excited with its abundance of space and numerous gadgets. I wasn’t expecting the drive experience to match this excitement.
The CX-9's imposing dimensions – it measures 5,099mm long, 1,728mm tall and 1,936mm wide - are softened by nice curves, soft sweeping hips and that big smiley face. The CX-9 Grand Touring sits upon 20-inch alloy wheels that are fitting for a vehicle this large. Its rear end is complete with chrome twin exhaust pipes. Our white test vehicle has a lovely road presence.
The CX-9 offers one engine only, Mazda’s largest, a 3.7-litre V6. It produces 204kW at 6,250rpm and 367Nm at 4,250rpm. Ninety percent of this torque is available from 2,800rpm, which helps move this 2,097kg mass with unexpected haste. Mazda’s on demand Active Torque Split all wheel drive system adds an element of grace to this equation.
The V6 engine of the CX-9 does not disappoint. It’s gutsy and obedient, fun and powerful. Just a gentle prod of the throttle is enough to ignite the hardy V6, from standstill or on the roll. This enthusiasm does, however, call for some care to stay within the speed limits. During a long freeway haul that leaad us into some winding country hills, the CX-9 did not faulter. It sits beautifully flat and composed on the freeway with minimal road and wind noise, and displays admirable agility on more demanding corners.
The CX-9 runs a six-speed transmission that works in automatic mode, or manual sequential shift mode. It’s the same transmission used in the Mazda CX-7, but gear ratios have been tweaked to suit the CX-9s torque. Gear changes are seamless.
It strikes me as preposterous to quote acceleration statistics for a medium SUV, however, the CX-9 claims to move from 0-100km in just 8.5 seconds. That will throw the kids back in their seats.
The CX-9 runs MacPherson struts suspension up front and multi link on the rear that nicely handles the hefty CX-9. On some demanding, poor surface country roads, the CX-9 was more than fit for the task. Steep hills with a full load on board were no challenge. The CX-9 brakes fast and is quick to gather pace on the roll, dropping down through the gears to get the job done. The CX-9 is responsive and behaves with a lovely sense of confidence.
I found the CX-9 to be incredibly sure-footed. Balance, handling and on-road performance is impeccable. Steering is precise and firm in hand.
Large A-pillars are a significant obstacle to forward visibility. I found myself looking around the pillar, particularly on tight corners. Side visibility is good, and rearward perfect, thanks to a reversing camera.
The cabin of the CX-9 Grand Touring is spacious, plush and packed with features to impress even the most discerning buyer, to include: heated front seats with eight-way electric adjust (four-way for front passenger), rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera, three?zone climate control (dual-front and second row), power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, satellite navigation, a Premium Bose sound system with 10 speakers, 6?disc CD player with MP3 and iPod compatibility, a power tailgate, heated side mirrors with auto tilt down function for reversing, a glass sunroof, and the list goes on.
The CX-9s interior is luxurious and conveys a sophisticated image. Leather, chrome and high-shine plastics feature in perfect proportion to forge a level of grandeur that is fitting for its price tag.
The leather multi-function wheel is lovely in hand, while nicely bolstered leather seats and a large centre armrest cocoon your body like a finely crafted lounge chair.
The CX-9 also boasts loads of good storage compartments and robust drink holders. Fit for a family load.
The build feels solid. Doors feel big and sturdy but they are not too heavy or too cumbersome for kids to open and close.
The second row is comfortable and spacious, for all three passengers. You can easily accommodate three adult passengers; head, leg and shoulder room great. The second row also has its own climate control and two directional air vents.
Three child anchor points are available for second row fixing.
There are few vehicles that can boast a third row seating option that isn’t considered punishment for its occupants. It’s like the ‘naughty chair’ in mobile format. But this is not the case in the CX-9.
To start with, it’s easy to engage and access the third row. The second row of seats tilts and slides forward easily. You can do this from the kerb, or while seated in the third row.
The third row is comfortable and can accommodate adults. Foot room is slightly compromised, but it’s a rarity of space otherwise.
Third row passengers also enjoy dedicated lighting, adjustable headrests, cup holders and speakers. There are no directional air-vents, but in floor vents provide sufficient airflow to the third row.
Getting out of the third row is a more tricky manouvre, with a large step down to the ground. A gained skill I suspect.
The power tailgate activates auto open and close. It’s so handy for when you’re laden with gear without the ability to reach for the tailgate. However, I found the height of the open tailgate quite dangerous. I’m short, and I almost hit my head several times. My husband encountered a near miss every time he accessed the boot. A nasty bump was imminent.
There are several bag hooks and anchor points in the boot, as well as a concealed in-floor storage compartment.
Second row has a 60/40 split and the third row a 50/50 split fold that sinks flat into the floor. All seats down, you’ve got 928 litres of cargo space at hand. And if the CX-9s cavernous load space is not enough to carry your load, braked tow capacity is 2,000kg.
Even with seven passengers on board, there is still good luggage space in the CX-9.
Fuel consumption of the Mazda CX-9 is quoted at 12.2-litres per 100km for a combined cycle. On a freeway test run, the CX-9 displayed a fuel consumption reading of 10.8L/100km. At the end of our road test, at refuel, the CX-9 was drinking around 14.6L/100km travelled for a combined cycle.
All CX-9 models come standard with antilock brakes, dynamic stability control, emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, roll stability control and front and side airbags for the driver and passenger, as well as a curtain airbag that extends to the third row.
Rivals to the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring include the more expensive Toyota Kluger Grande and the cheaper Ford Territory Ghia, both offering seven seats and all-wheel-drive handling. Priced in the middle of these two, at $63,186, the CX-9 is a good value pick.
The V6 of the Mazda CX-9 makes light work of its size. Its steering and comfort make it a pleasure to drive, and it packs a load of luxury conveniences, too. With more kids, more luggage and more money, the Mazda CX-9 would make me very happy!
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