The refreshed CX-9 is a peoplemover with plenty of utility
Mazda’s CX-9 sevenseater has a mid-life nip-and-tuck, putting it in a distinct niche as a peoplemover with style
THE elder statesman of the Mazda CX range, like a Swiss army knife, can do a variety of jobs. After a mid-life nip and tuck, the CX-9’s distinctive looks are honed without any loss of the utility that makes the seven-seater a popular, if niche, choice among large SUVs.
Mazda loads up the CX-9 when it comes to looks and specification. All models have Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary inputs, reversing camera, three- zone aircon, auto headlamps and wipers and a 3.7-litre V6 matched to a six-speed auto. The front-wheel drive Classic starts at $44,525 and the Luxury $52,980. The all-wheel drive Luxury is $57,480, with the Grand Touring $63,828.
The audio and satnav upgrades match the newer entrants in this class. There’s Bluetooth with audio streaming, the upgraded speech recognition system works with audio and navigation and the satnav is straightforward to operate. The Grand Touring has bi-xenon headlamps, daytime running lights and remote operated power tailgate.
‘‘ Kodo’’ is the key word at Mazda for the corporate look and the CX-9’s new grille follows the CX-5 and Mazda6 styling. Remodelled front and rear bumpers and lights to match make it reasonably easy to pick from the outgoing version. There’s piano black finish around the instruments and burgundy metal strips run down either side of the centre console. The second-row seating adjust up to 120mm to fit larger occupants, and adults will cope with short-ish trips in the pair of third-row seats. Boot space is marginal with the seven seats occupied but expands dramatically (up to 1911 litres) with two on board.
The CX-9 hasn’t hit ANCAP’s wall but the US version rates as a five-star car.
There are six airbags to protect all occupants, with the full suite of safety software and the likes of lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning.
Big but light on its feet, the CX-9 is analogous to a rugby forward. There’s enough sheet metal for an imposing look on the road but that’s not the impression from behind the wheel, where the lightly weighted steering adds to the impression of agility.
Rapid changes of direction, especially on gravel, remind the driver this is a big bus. It’s more inertia than body roll, though, so the passengers won’t feel nauseous even at a brisk pace on back roads. Noise suppression is first-rate and there is little evidence the Mazda is essentially a seven-year-old car.
The V6 has enough urge to propel the CX-9 at a solid pace, either off the line or during overtaking, and the wide seats hang on as well as the car does. In most cases, the front-wheel drive model will suit most people and does plenty to impress. There would want to
Runs in the family: The CX-9 echoes the Mazda6 nose; middle row seats slide fore and aft; third row can fit adults — briefly; cargo space is huge