Sitting just below the range-topping CX-9 Akari variant, the Mazda CX-9 GT isn’t short on features and provides a compelling mix of elegance and functionality that rivals luxury models priced well beyond its $61,390 price tag.
The big seven-seater has been updated for the 2018 model year making it even better than the initial second-generation version which won a string of awards including Wheels Car of the Year.
- It looks striking, especially in the new Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint which is tastefully highlighted by chrome trim and polished alloy wheels and stood out wherever it was parked.
- It’s quiet. Cabin noise wasn’t really a problem with the CX-9, but Mazda further improved its relatively quiet ride in the recent upgrade by bolstering sound insulation throughout the cabin and rear cargo area to reduce tyre noise and sound reverberation.
- Driver assistance includes smart city brake support, which now operates up to 80km/h instead of 30 kays, blind spot warning and traffic sign recognition that reads speed signs and displays them in the head up display.
- The CX-9 feels agile for a big SUV and handling has been further improved with the addition of G-Vectoring Control which adjusts engine torque in response to steering input to better control the load on each wheel, which in turn improves its vehicle dynamics.
- The CX-9 GT now has automatic wing mirrors which fold in when you lock the car, which is a handy feature for such a wide vehicle.
- The front seats are a nice place to be with power adjusted heated seats, soft arm rests, separate zone climate control and a chunky centre console with attractive chrome highlights and switches, deep storage bin and a large space under the dashboard to store phones and sunglasses.
- The middle row is also roomy and comfortable with heated seats and separate climate control zone with separate digital controls. The seats are raised for excellent front and side vision and headroom isn’t compromised by the sunroof. The back door windows also have built in sunshade that slides up from inside the door.
- The third row seats are also comfortable and wide enough for two adults but legroom is pretty tight though helped by the second row seats able to slide forward.
- The cargo area holds 230-litres with the rear seats up which is more than enough to hold a pram and some shopping or a few small travel bags. That can be expanded, by folding one or two of the 50/50 split third row seats, up to a considerable 810 litres.
- The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo engine does a good job in pushing the CX-9’s bulk around. Official combined fuel consumption is 8.8L/100km but we averaged 10.8 which is still a fair return for avehicle this size. The fact it happily drinks Ethanol E10 will help reduce fuel bills.
- The infotainment system includes inbuilt satellite navigation and digital radio (DAB+) which sounds great through the excellent sound system.
- While it’s easy to drive, the CX-9 can be difficult to park because of its width. Getting in and out can be a tight squeeze in smaller carparking spaces and avoiding gutter rash on the 20-inch alloys usually means having to park over the line.
- Infotainment system lacks a CD player and AppleCarPlay/Android Auto Connectivity.
- The 20-inch wheels and low profile look great, but you lose the noticeably smooth ride in the entry-level CX-9 Sport which has high-walled rubber on 18s.