Redesigned Mazda CX-9 makes the 7-seat crossover look good – WTOP

Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WASHINGTON — Larger crossovers are pretty much the modern day minivan, although they are more family hauler then stylish machines. The prior Mazda CX-9 was a larger crossover with V6 and decent space inside to move the family, but it didn’t really standout from the crowded three-row crossover market. There are now big changes for the 2016 Mazda CX-9, both inside and out.

Let’s start with the new exterior styling. This new CX-9 goes from somewhat generic to standout by adopting the styling cues from the Mazda 6 and Mazda 3, which are already handsome cars. The front end is very aggressive for a crossover with a large grill that juts out and is angled. Seeing it in person really gives it the full effect.

The headlights are recessed and curve around the front end, and the lower parking and fog lights are placed vertically. Even the side is somewhat interesting, with its flared front and rear fenders with some black lower trim pieces to break up the larger size of this crossover. The rear end departs from the usual boring look with dual exhaust pipes and the different trim colors, and the bumper has some tasteful chrome accents. The overall look is very nice. My wife noticed it and was also impressed — that’s high praise since some big-dollar cars go relatively unnoticed in our driveway.

The outside is impressive and different, and so is what’s under the hood. Gone is the old V6, and new for 2016 is the 2.5 L turbo four-cylinder engine good for around 250 hp and a healthy 310 ft. lb. of torque. It seems to move this crossover well. The six-speed automatic is smooth and provides a pleasant driving experience.

Fuel economy was under the 23 mpg combined described on the sticker. I managed 19.2 mpg in 277 miles of mixed driving with a big dose of stop and go, which was better than our family crossover. This new CX-9 seems lighter than before and maybe not as sporty, but it offers a more refined ride.

I drove the loaded $44,900 AWD Signature model, and, even with large 20-inch wheels, the ride was very composed even over bumpy city streets. It seems a bit soft and there is a bit of body roll on larger sharper corners making it a bit more luxury than sporty. The only real driving complaint is a slow-to-act radar cruise control on accelerating where I had to take over several times.

Luxury is the theme inside this new CX-9 Signature, with a nice upscale interior. Materials are top notch for this class and near luxury standards. It scores high with other passengers who usually quip, “is this really a Mazda?” The leather is a nice quality and the seats are very comfortable. There is real wood trim and the total package looks and feels very nice.

The center console is large, and it robs some space in the floor wells. Second row passengers have a good deal of space and the second row window sunshades are an added bonus. The third row is tight for adults but fine for children. Folding the row down for extra cargo is easy. It might not be the largest interior in the class, but it’s one of the nicer you will see.

The Mazda CX-9 is reborn for 2016 with a different attitude — maybe not as sporty as before, but a better fit for more buyers. With prices starting around $32,000 and a powerful turbo engine you might be surprised what Mazda’s biggest ride has in store for your buying dollars.

Editor’s Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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