No longer a sibling of the Ford Edge powered by the blue oval’s V6 engines, the all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 has broken free of its Ford influences after almost a decade and now sports a much more distinct identity. The new vehicle is built on a bespoke chassis, is powered by an all-new engine and has a contemporary Mazda design.
Dimensionally, the CX-9 is 5,065 mm long but has shorter front (by 59 mm) and rear (by 25 mm) overhangs than the outgoing model. It’s front A-pillars have been moved back by 100 mm, lengthening the hood, which gives the vehicle a sleeker appearance despite being a sizeable, three-row, seven passenger SUV.
Mazda engineers also put the CX-9 on a diet, taking about 90 kg (198 lbs.) worth of weight out of its structure in FWD configuration and approximately 130 kg (287 lbs.) out of models equipped with AWD.
On the powertrain front, the CX-9 is powered by one engine, the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T. This turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. However, if you choose to splurge a little bit and fill up with premium fuel, peak horsepower jumps to 250.
I spent some time behind the wheel of a range-topping Machine Gray Signature model which is equipped with a long list of standard equipment from 20-inch alloy wheels to a 12-speaker BOSE audio system to a moonroof, heated seats and steering wheel and a whole lot more.
As one might expect with a vehicle loaded with this much equipment, the CX-9 makes for a comfortable cruiser. The seats are supportive, the interfaces are easy to use and the trim materials are pleasing to interact with and look great.
With three rows of seats, there’s plenty of room for passengers and all of their stuff and the third row can be easily folded and stowed without having to remove the headrests.
The 2.5-litre turbo four might not seem all that powerful on paper, but in practice it provides plenty of power to hustle the 1,917 kg CX-9 around with due haste without being unduly loud or harsh.
A Sport mode button on the centre console livens things up a bit, stretching out the revs before upshifts and sharpens the throttle response, but even in Normal mode the CX-9 scoots along quite nicely.
All told, the new CX-9 really delivers the goods. Its sharp KODO design feels fresh and contemporary, it’s a fun vehicle to drive despite its size and comes loaded with amenities consumers demand.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $50,100 / $52,295 (incl. $1,895 destination)
ENGINE: SKYACTIV-G 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder
HORSEPOWER: 227 hp @ 6,000 rpm (250 hp @ 6,000 rpm w/ premium fuel)
TORQUE: 310 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm
DRY WEIGHT: 1,917 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY.): 11.2 / 8.8
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000
ALTERNATIVES: Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander
Photography by Lee Bailie