by Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
A half-century ago it was the station wagon. Decades ago it was the mini-van. Today it’s the mid- or full-size SUV that has won both the heart and soul of parents looking to transport their family to sporting events, daycare, school or what-have-you.
Benefiting from that progression are the likes of the 2017 Mazda CX-9 mid-size SUV, with three rows of seating, all-weather capability and enough safety features and creature comforts to seal the deal.
Offered in four trim levels: entry-grade Sport, volume-grade Touring, high-grade Grand Touring (my tester) and the new flagship Signature trim level – the CX-9 has a price to fit virtually all budgets.
Both Grand Touring and Signature models – which are loaded – are being cross-shopped with the likes of Lexus, Porsche and Volvo. Consumers can save tens of thousands of dollars yet benefit from Mazda’s design, quality and engineering innovations.
I really didn’t feel like I was driving a large SUV. Which makes the CX-9 a clear choice for buyers looking to provide versatility and functionality, without sacrificing the elements of performance and driveability.
Grand Touring model builds upon the Sport and Touring trim levels with adaptive front-lighting system, 20-inch wheels, aluminum interior trim, and Mazda’s first active driving display that projects instrument and navigation information onto the windshield. Other standard features include high-beam control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, radar cruise control with smart-brake support, roof rails and memory settings on the driver’s seat.
All models are powered by Mazda’s 2.5T turbocharged engine that generates 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque from just 2,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and my tester included all-wheel-drive. The rig receives a 23 mpg EPA rating in combined city/highway driving.
There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to the CX-9. Highlights include a navigation system with rearview camera, power moonroof, privacy glass and second-row sunshades, Bose sound system with 12 speakers, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth, USB ports and leather-trimmed seats.
Completing the CX-9 package is a state-of-the-art technology and safety package. In addition to those already mentioned, features worthy of note include dynamic stability control, traction control, roll stability control, trailer stability assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear backup sensors.
The four-wheel drive system and the vehicle’s functionality and versatility are frosting on the cake. The system uses 27 sensors that measure road conditions more than 200 times per second to determine how to allocate power to each of the wheels and maximize traction in all driving conditions.
When moving people is not the priority, the CX-9 quickly converts to a cargo carrier. The third-row seats fold down, as do the second-row captain’s seats to provide more than enough space to transport your stuff, keeping it warm and dry.
If you have a family and are looking to cover all the bases, keep it simple. Do yourself a favor and test drive the CX-9 Grand Touring. It may very well be one-stop shopping.
2017 MAZDA CX-9
BASE PRICE: $42,270
AS TESTED: $43,610
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.