The original CX-9 was released in 2007, and by now it’s fallen behind its seven-seater competitors. So this new car arrives prepared with a brand-new engine and just about every bit of safety and efficiency technology that Mazda can make. So let’s see how good it is.
WHAT STANDS OUT
Mazda knows there are customers out there who have been waiting for this car to arrive and, to cut to the chase, they won’t be disappointed. The new car is cheaper, lighter, more efficient and refined, and there’s a wider range of models to choose from.
The big standout is the new engine that’s standard across the whole range. It’s a 2.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – much smaller than the old 3.7-litre V6, and that makes it way better on fuel. Mazda rates it at 8.4L/100km, a long way down on the 11L/100km of the old car.
Mazda’s people also say the engine has diesel-like performance, and we can see what they mean. It makes 170kW and 420Nm, so there’s lots of pulling power from down low in the rev range, making it a cinch to cruise around town in without needing to really sink your foot into the carpet.
Mazda sent engineers from Japan to study the way Australian families use their CX-9s. Information from those visits has made the new car better. The third row is extremely easy to raise and lower, even with one hand, and useful things like bag hooks, cup holders and storage compartments are spread around the interior making it a genuinely practical.
The cabin is sophisticated and quiet, and there’s so much gear in here it may steal buyers of more up-market SUVs. Safety kit includes six airbags, blind spot monitoring, radar cruise control, collision avoidance warnings, auto braking and fatigue alert.
Leg and headroom in the second and third rows is above par, and visibility in the very back is better than most, which is sure to keep the kids happy. There’s a usable amount of boot space even with all the seats in use, and if you fold down the third and second rows and you could just about move house in one trip.
The CX-9 now comes in four different model grades, each available in front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, for an extra $4,000. The choices are Sport, Touring, GT or Azami, stepping up adds more deluxe features like LED headlights, a head-up display and a Bose sound system. The base model has cloth trim and a smaller display, all the others gets leather and the proper 8-inch screen.
We’d buy the CX-9 Touring. It sits in a sweet spot for the range representing good value without missing out on any must-have luxury and safety extras. Mazda itself expects the Touring model to be its best-seller in the long run.
The new Mazda CX-9 really moves the game the forward from the old car, and sits at the pointy end of its class. Mazda has built a classy and effective family hauler that will be loved by parents and kids alike.