The redesigned Mazda CX-9 employs the company-wide design philosophy known as KODO. The crossover weighs 250 pounds less thanks in no small part to replacing big 3.7L V6 with a 2.5L turbocharged four. The engine powers the full CX-9 range and produces 227 horsepower when using regular unleaded and 250 horsepower on 93 octane. The engine also makes an impressive 310 pound-feet of torque from just 2,000 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The CX-9 boasts three rows of seating with room for up to seven passengers, and it comes with standard front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available. The CX-9 comes in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. Even the base Sport is nicely equipped, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, 3-zone automatic climate control, Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch color touchscreen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.
The Touring adds keyless entry and start, a power tailgate with programmable height adjustment, heated mirrors, leather seating with heated front seats and 8-way power adjustability for the driver and an 8-inch color touchscreen. Standard advanced safety features include a blind-spot warning system with rear cross traffic alert. An available Premium Package brings LED fog lights, Bose stereo, navigation, back-up sensors and more.
Stepping up to the Grand Touring affords 20-inch alloy wheels, a power glass moonroof and chrome exterior accents with aluminum roof rails. Inside there's a head-up display 12-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, aluminum inlays, driver's seat memory, and i-ACTIVESENSE advanced safety features such as adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and more.
Finally, the top-of-the-line, CX-9 Signature brings standard all-wheel drive in addition to LED accent lighting in the grille, LED interior ambient lighting, Napa leather seating and trim with rosewood inlays and a leather steering wheel.
Standard safety features on all CX-9s include dual front airbags, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls, a rearview camera and a tire-pressure monitor.
When the second-generation Mazda CX-9 went on sale in 2016, critics praised it for its relatively agile handling that set it apart from other three-row crossover SUVs. It didn't hurt that it looked really good, too. In spite of all that, its sales haven't been stellar, but perhaps Mazda's revisions to the CX-9 for the 2019 model year will help the family-hauler win more fans.
It's not going to be easy, however. The past few years have seen many newcomers like the Subaru Ascent and the Volkswagen Atlas entering the fray. On top of that, predictably compelling entries like the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are waiting in the wings.
The Mazda CX-9 is powered by a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower if you fill the gas tank with 93-octane fuel. If you want to save some of your hard-earned cash by filling up with good ol' 87, you'll have 227 horsepower to work with. Regardless of the octane you choose, the CX-9's engine is always at the ready with a stout 310 pound-feet of torque that's channeled through a smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission. The three-row crossover comes standard with front-wheel drive, but you can upgrade to all-wheel drive for $1,800, as seen on my tester.
The Good With solid driving dynamics and a pleasing design inside and out, the 2019 Mazda CX-9 caters to the enthusiast buyer.
The Bad Limited cargo space, a lack of towing capability and outdated tech may turn off the more practical shopper.
The Bottom Line In a segment that's rapidly improving, this Mazda is no longer the standout it once was.
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