Seat Time: 2016 Mazda CX-9 – There’s Always a But

October 24th, 2016 at 4:06pm

MY16 Mazda CX-9

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Vehicle: 2016 Mazda CX-9
Price: ~$42,000

Final Impression:

Ever had a vehicle surprise you? Sure you have. We all have. Maybe you we’re riding in a friend’s or relative’s new car and it wasn’t what you were expecting. It could have been a surprise from the brand or maybe you had a preconceived notion about that vehicle from a past experience. The Mazda CX-9 was that vehicle for me.

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It just seems to have this presence about it. I like Mazda’s KODO design language and had seen pictures and video of the CX-9 before, but I found the SUV to be visually striking in person. The size, proportions and styling all fit.

The interior was not at all what I was expecting from Mazda. It was like the gates of heaven opening the first time the door swung open. Ok, that’s clearly an exaggeration, but it really was something special. Mazda is known for being sporty, but the interior of the CX-9 is elegant. The combination of soft, light tan leather and dark wood, plastic and other materials flowed together well in my test vehicle. One thing the interior is lacking is overall space. But you’ll notice that all of Mazda’s utilities rank near the bottom in interior volume. This has a lot to do with the sharp rake at the rear of these vehicles. It was a compromise Mazda knowlingly made to produce SUVs it felt best fit its brand.

It also comes with bunch of safety and technology features. The CX-9 can be had with either a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen and the latest MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system. I found it to be intuitive and easy to use with the rotary control knob. Optional technology includes Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Mazda Radar (Smart) Cruise Control.

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The CX-9 is the only vehicle in its class that doesn’t offer a V6 option. It comes with a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, which performs very well. Mazda tuned the engine to have most of its torque available at low engine speeds because that’s where most people drive at. It really does give you a nice seat-of-the-pants feeling when pulling away from a standstill, but power does start to fall off over 4,500 RPM.

I will say the CX-9 handles very well, probably the best in its class and something you can feel after just a few hundred yards, but… There’s always a but, isn’t there? But this was a big but. There was a really annoying creak from the suspension that sounded off over nearly every bump and never went away. I traced it to the right rear coil spring. I could feel the whole spring vibrate when someone pushed down on the rear bumper. So, something was rubbing that shouldn’t have been. I really hope the issue was isolated to my test vehicle and not the result of a sporty brand failing at trying to move upscale. Because otherwise the 2016 Mazda CX-9 is a fantastic vehicle.

MY16 Mazda CX-9

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