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We drive the 2020 Mazda CX-9

by Ali Arsham
Thursday, June 4, 2020

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2020 Mazda CX-9
2020 Mazda CX-9

Mazda calls the CX-9 far from ordinary. That is a great way to describe Mazda’s largest SUV. At first glance, the CX-9 is just another SUV but as soon as you get a closer look, you start to get hints that this is a special vehicle. The feeling is cemented when you drive it. It is luxurious and fun but at ordinary prices which is very rare for a 7 passenger SUV.

The exterior styling of the CX-9 is the first clue that there is something special going on here. The CX-9 has very attractive lines and with the aggressive front-end styling, it looks like a shark ready to attack. The LED lights and the LED accents add to the attractive styling.

Once inside, you will discover a very upscale interior that looks much more expensive than the price of the CX-9 should allow. The well-appointed interior extends a rich feeling to each of the three rows, creating a sense of sophistication for all occupants. Nothing in the interior feels cheap or low end and that is the theme of the entire car. The leather seats are soft and comfortable and the instrumentation is clear and easy to read.

Our top of the line Signature model had everything you need as standard including a head-up display, 9 inch full color touch screen navigation, 12 speaker Bose audio system, 360 degree camera, ventilated and heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a lot more. The Signature trim gives you captain’s chairs in the second row to help provide passengers a prestigious, first-class cabin feel. We were not a fan of them as some felt they were not as comfortable as the front seats.

We also think that there is a lot of wasted space when you get the captain’s chairs with the giant center console that does not fold down. The third row seats are very useful but space is tight and they are best used for smaller individuals.

The CX-9 is powered by a strong engine. The turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5T engine equipped on all CX-9 models delivers a robust 320 lb-ft of torque on 93 octane gasoline (310 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane gasoline); an increase of 10 lb-ft of torque on the outgoing model year. The turbocharged engine is rated at 250 horsepower on 93 octane gasoline (227 horsepower on 87 octane gasoline) and is paired with a six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission.

Mazda’s predictive i-Activ all-wheel drive is standard in CX-9 Signature and optional on all other trim levels. When paired with i-Activ all-wheel drive, the 2020 CX-9 is the first Mazda vehicle offered with the all-new off-road traction assist feature. Replacing the traction control button, this feature can potentially help the driver when adventuring on uneven terrain.

When the diagonal wheels lose traction, off-road traction assist will stop reducing the engine torque and increases the brake force on the wheels without traction. This transfers power to the wheels still on the ground to help allow the vehicle to regain traction and continue the drive. G-Vectoring Control Plus is also standard for 2020 and further improves the steering response to help the driver and all occupants have a smooth, premium driving experience.

When you first start driving the CX-9, you will feel the power of the 2.5 liter engine and it can be impressive. There is a short lag at the beginning but boost quickly builds up and then the CX-9 accelerates strongly. The fun ends quickly though as the power drops off sharply at the top end.

Consequently, the CX-9 is quick and fun but it would be a lot more fun with another 50 hp. At first glance, the transmission will make you feel like you are getting short changed with competitors having 8, 9 or even 10 gears. But you will realize that the six speed works very well and you don’t need any more gears. The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly and is even more responsive in sport mode.

The interior is well appointed
The interior is well appointed

The CX-9 is a fairly large SUV and compared to its competition, it may look inferior on paper. Others may have more power or more room but drive the CX-9 and you will realize that the CX-9 is probably the best SUV in its class, at this price.

We took the CX-9 to some twisty mountain roads and it behaved like a sports car. The way that the CX-9 handles corners is incredible. The independent front suspension uses MacPherson struts and a multi-link set-up works well in the rear. It is well balanced, has good steering feel and is confidence inspiring with gentle understeer at the limit.

The 12.6 inch front rotors with 2 piston calipers managed to take a beating and some fade eventually came through but nobody who buys a CX-9 will drive it that way. It was very impressive especially considering that the CX-9 weighs 4300 pounds.

The CX-9 starts out at $35,790 with the Sport model. The Touring will take $37,610 out of your wallet and adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, leather-trimmed seats, power adjustable passenger seats, power liftgate with adjustable height and a second-row center armrest with storage, cup holders, nine inch full color touchscreen, keyless entry and second row power tilt and slide as well as two USB charging ports.

The next level is the Grand Touring which will require that you write a check for $43,450. For the extra money you get 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, 360° view monitor, Active Driving Display with traffic sign recognition, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, automatic folding door mirrors, power moonroof, LED door-pocket, Adaptive Front-lighting System, chrome exterior accents, satin chrome roof rails, windshield wipers de-icer, and overhead front center console illumination and front and rear parking sensors.

The CX-9 Touring seems to be the sweet spot and it is a bargain at that price and it is a blast to drive.

2020 Mazda CX-9 Specs

Vehicle

EPA Classification

Small Sport Utility Vehicles 4WD

Drivetrain

All Wheel

Engine

Engine Type and Required Fuel

Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4

Displacement (liters/cubic inches)

2.5 L/152

Fuel System

Gasoline Direct Injection

Maximum Horsepower @ RPM

227 @ 5000

Maximum Torque @ RPM

310 @ 2000

Cooling System Capacity (quarts)

NA

Transmission

Transmission Order Code

NA

Transmission Description

Automatic w/OD

Number of Transmission Speeds

6

First Gear Ratio (:1)

3.49

Second Gear Ratio (:1)

1.99

Third Gear Ratio (:1)

1.45

Fourth Gear Ratio (:1)

1.00

Fifth Gear Ratio (:1)

0.71

Sixth Gear Ratio (:1)

0.60

Reverse Ratio (:1)

3.99

Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1)

4.41

Transfer Case Gear Ratio, high (:1)

NA

Transfer Case Gear Ratio, low (:1)

NA

Clutch Size

NA

Fuel Economy and Range

EPA Greenhouse Gas Score

NA

CO2 Emissions, 15K mi/year (tons)

7.8

Range, city/highway (miles)

390.00 / 507.00

EPA Fuel Economy, combined/city/highway (mpg)

23 / 20 / 26

EPA Fuel Economy Equivalent (for hybrid and electric vehicles), combined/city/highway (MPGe)

N/A / N/A / N/A

Fuel Tank

Fuel Capacity / Gas Tank Size

19.5

Aux Fuel Tank Capacity (gallons)

NA

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (inches)

115.3

Length (inches)

199.4

Width, without mirrors (inches)

77.5

Height (inches)

67.6

Front Track Width (inches)

65.3

Rear Track Width (inches)

65.2

Minimum Ground Clearance (inches)

NA

Rear Door Opening Height (inches)

NA

Rear Door Opening Width (inches)

NA

Liftover Height (inches)

31.7

Interior Dimensions

Passenger / Seating Capacity

7

Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet)

135.8

Front Head Room (inches)

40.1

Front Leg Room (inches)

41

Front Shoulder Room (inches)

57.9

Front Hip Room (inches)

56.7

Second Row Head Room (inches)

38.5

Second Row Leg Room (inches)

39.4

Second Row Shoulder Room (inches)

58.1

Second Row Hip Room (inches)

57.4

Third Row Head Room (inches)

35.4

Third Row Leg Room (inches)

29.7

Third Row Shoulder Room (inches)

53.1

Third Row Hip Room (inches)

40.1

Cargo Area Dimensions

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind First Row (inches)

84.9

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Second Row (inches)

50.5

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Third Row (inches)

21.5

Cargo Space/Area Width at Beltline (inches)

58.6

Cargo Bed Width Between Wheelhousings (inches)

40.2

Cargo Bed Height (inches)

30.3

Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet)

71.2

Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet)

38.2

Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet)

14.4

Steering

Steering Type

Rack-Pinion

Steering Ratio (:1)

NA

Turns, lock to lock

NA

Turning Diameter / Radius, curb to curb (feet)

38.8

Turning Diameter / Radius, wall to wall (feet)

NA

Suspension

Front Suspension Type

Strut

Rear Suspension Type

Multi-Link

Front Shock Absorber Diameter (mm)

NA

Rear Shock Absorber Diameter (mm)

NA

Front Anti-Roll Bar Diameter (inches)

NA

Rear Anti-Roll Bar Diameter (inches)

NA

Brakes

Brake Type

4-Wheel Disc

Anti-Lock-Braking System

4-Wheel

Front Brake Rotors, diameter x thickness (inches)

12.6

Rear Brake Rotors, diameter x thickness (inches)

12.8

Rear Drums, diameter x width (inches)

NA

Wheels and Tires

Front Wheel Size (inches)

20 X 8.5

Front Wheel Material

Aluminum

Front Tire Size

P255/50VR20

Rear Wheel Size (inches)

20 X 8.5

Rear Wheel Material

Aluminum

Rear Tire Size

P255/50VR20

Spare Wheel Size (inches)

Compact

Spare Wheel Material

Steel

Spare Tire Size

Compact

Towing

Maximum Towing Capacity (pounds)

3500

Maximum Trailer Weight, dead weight hitch (pounds)

3500

Maximum Tongue Weight, dead weight hitch (pounds)

350

Maximum Trailer Weight, weight distributing hitch (pounds)

3500

Maximum Tongue Weight, weight distributing hitch (pounds)

350

Weight Information

Base Curb Weight (pounds)

4388

Total Option Weight (pounds)

0.00

Maximum Payload Capacity (pounds)

NA

Curb Weight

NA

Electrical

Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F

NA

Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps)

150

Mechanical

Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G 4-Cylinder Turbo
Transmission: SKYACTIV-Drive 6-Speed Automatic -inc: sport and manual shift mode
Axle Ratio: 4.411
GVWR: 5,822 lbs
Automatic Full-Time All-Wheel
150 Amp Alternator
65-Amp/Hr Maintenance-Free Battery
Towing Equipment -inc: Trailer Sway Control
Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
Quasi-Dual Stainless Steel Exhaust w/Chrome Tailpipe Finisher
19.5 Gal. Fuel Tank
Permanent Locking Hubs
Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
Multi-Link Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist, Hill Hold Control and Electric Parking Brake

Exterior

Wheels: 20" x 8.5J Aluminum Alloy -inc: brilliant silver finish,
Tires: P255/50R20
Steel Spare Wheel
Compact Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo
Clearcoat Paint
Express Open/Close Sliding And Tilting Glass 1st Row Sunroof w/Sunshade
Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Chrome Bumper Insert
Black Rear Bumper w/Chrome Bumper Insert
Chrome Side Windows Trim and Black Rear Window Trim
Body-Colored Door Handles
Chrome Bodyside Insert, Black Bodyside Cladding and Black Wheel Well Trim
Body-Colored Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Power Folding and Turn Signal Indicator
Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
Deep Tinted Glass
Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Wiper Park
Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
Lip Spoiler
Chrome Grille
Power Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
Roof Rack Rails Only
Perimeter/Approach Lights
LED Brakelights
Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Daytime Running Auto-Leveling Directionally Adaptive Auto High-Beam Headlamps w/Delay-Off
Front Fog Lamps

Entertainment

Radio: AM/FM Sound System w/Bose Audio -inc: HD Radio, 12 speakers, Centerpoint 2 Surround technology, Audiopilot 2 noise compensation technology, auxiliary audio input jack, Bluetooth hands free phone and audio, 9.0" full-color touch-screen display, 6 USB inputs, menu voice command, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock and Steering Wheel Controls
Fixed Antenna
Regular Amplifier
Aha Internet Radio
Pandora Internet Radio
Radio Broadcast Data System Program Information
SiriusXM Satellite Radio -inc: 3-month trial subscription and 3 year traffic and travel link subscription
Stitcher Internet Radio
Infotainment System Voice Command
2 LCD Monitors In The Front

Interior

Heated/Ventilated Front Bucket Seats -inc: 3 heat settings, 8-way power driver's seat w/power lumbar support and 2 position memory and 6-way power front passenger's seat
Driver Seat
Passenger Seat
60-40 Folding Split-Bench Front Facing Heated Power Reclining Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat w/Power Fore/Aft
Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
Power Rear Windows, Fixed 3rd Row Windows and w/Manual Sun Blinds
Fixed 50-50 Bench Vinyl 3rd Row Seat Front, Manual Fold Into Floor and 2 Fixed Head Restraints
Heated Leather Steering Wheel
Front Cupholder
Rear Cupholder
Compass
Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 4 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
Remote Releases -Inc: Proximity Cargo Access and Mechanical Fuel
HomeLink Garage Door Transmitter
Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
Distance Pacing w/Traffic Stop-Go
Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
Rear HVAC w/Separate Controls
HVAC -inc: Console Ducts
Glove Box
Driver Foot Rest
Full Cloth Headliner
Leather/Metal-Look Gear Shifter Material
Leatherette Door Trim Insert
Interior Trim -inc: Aluminum Instrument Panel Insert, Piano Black/Aluminum Door Panel Insert, Piano Black Console Insert and Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents
Leather-Trimmed Seats -inc: 1st and 2nd row outboard seating positions
Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination, Driver And Passenger Auxiliary Mirror
Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
Front And Rear Map Lights
Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
Carpet Floor Trim
Cargo Area Concealed Storage
Trunk/Hatch Auto-Latch
Cargo Space Lights
FOB Controls -inc: Cargo Access
E911 Automatic Emergency Notification
Mazda Navigation System
SMS Text Msg Audio Delivery & Reply
Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
Power 1st Row Windows w/Front And Rear 1-Touch Up/Down
Delayed Accessory Power
Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
Systems Monitor
Trip Computer
Outside Temp Gauge
Digital/Analog Display
Head-Up Display
Redundant Digital Speedometer
Manual Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
Seats w/Leatherette Back Material
Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest w/Storage
4 Seatback Storage Pockets
Engine Immobilizer
2 12V DC Power Outlets
Air Filtration

Safety

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) And Roll Stability Control (RSC)
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Side Impact Beams
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) Blind Spot
Forward Collision Mitigation and Rear Collision Warning
Lane Keeping Assist
Lane Departure Warning
Front And Rear Parking Sensors
Low Tire Pressure Warning
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
Curtain 1st, 2nd And 3rd Row Airbags
Airbag Occupancy Sensor
Rear Child Safety Locks
Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
360 View Monitor Back-Up Camera
Front Camera
Left Side Camera
Right Side Camera

Warranty

3 Basic Years / 36,000 Basic Miles
5 Drivetrain Years / 60,000 Drivetrain Miles
5 Corrosion Years / Unlimited Corrosion Miles
3 Roadside Assistance Years / 36,000 Roadside Assistance Miles

Crash Test Results

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating

4/5

Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver

4/5

Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger

4/5

Overall Side Crash Rating

5/5

Side Barrier Rating

5/5

Side Barrier Rating Driver

5/5

Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat

5/5

Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat

5/5

Combined Side Rating Front Seat

5/5

Combined Side Rating Rear Seat

5/5

Rollover Rating

4/5

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