Mazda's 7-passenger CX-9 gets overhauled for the 2016 model year. The new exterior design is more upright and confident, fitting in nicely with the rest of Mazda's new lineup.
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Under the hood is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes up to 250 horsepower when fueled with 93 octane.
However, Mazda has tuned the engine to perform best in the low-RPM range where most people do most of their driving.
To this end, the CX-9's powertrain has been optimized to deliver up to 310 pound-feet of torque as low as 2,000 RPM. This is a gasoline engine that behaves like a diesel on the road.
Not only has Mazda optimized the powertrain, it's also imbued the CX-9 with the same attention to driving feel as its sporty sedans and hatchbacks.
The steering feels direct and responsive. The suspension and chassis feel nicely planted for a vehicle of this size.
Much like Volvo with the XC90, Mazda wants to push its image upmarket with the new CX-9. To this end, the brand as introduced a new 'Signature' trim level at the top of the line.
The Signature model ups the cabin comfort ante with real rosewood trim on the console and doors.
The dashboard and touch points feature Nappa leather and real aluminum trim.
On the outside, the CX-9 feels more hunkered down, but the cabin aft of the driver's seat feels more spacious. I was able to fit my average sized adult frame into the third row without any discomfort.
Mazda has paid attention to noise reduction with this generation, equipping the CX-9 with acoustic glass and some 53 pounds of sound deadening material beneath the carpeted floor.
The CX-9 keeps things simple where the tech is concerned, but doesn't skimp on advanced driver aid systems. Lane keeping assistance, forward pre-collision braking and adaptive cruise control flesh out a fully featured i-ActivSense suite of technologies.