The largest offering in Mazda’s lineup, the CX-9, is a midsize SUV with seating for up to seven people across three rows of seats. It enjoys the reputation of being more agile than other SUVs in its class, and having a more sumptuous interior.
For 2019, the CX-9 gets a retuned suspension that improves performance and enhances passenger comfort by easing bumpy reactions when traveling on battered pavement.
There are also multiple updates for the CX-9 interior, depending on trim level. Foremost among them are the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a reconfigurable 7-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) gauge display, a 360-degree view monitor, and ventilated front seats.
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature trims, with pricing that starts at $33,275 including a $995 destination charge. The first three trims have a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive, but the Signature comes standard with AWD.
There’s no austerity involved when opting for the base Sport model. Its many standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a Mazda Connect infotainment system with 7-inch screen, LED headlights and taillights, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio pairing, keyless entry, push-button start, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The third in line Grand Touring model brings on a slew of extra features, essentially everything available on the CX-9.
The Signature model I tested has exclusive Auburn-colored Nappa leather seating surfaces, Santos Rosewood interior trim and aluminum interior accents.
Though the CX-9 is lovely in so many ways, its most flattering feature has to be its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which propels the car powerfully and effortlessly under all circumstances, delivering 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque without engaging in too much gasoline abuse. The EPA fuel economy rating for front-drive models is 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. With AWD the numbers are 20/26 mpg.
By the way, the 227 horsepower rating is based on regular grade fuel. When served premium fuel, CX-9’s horsepower increases to 250. Nevertheless, maximum towing capacity is a fairly modest 3,500 pounds.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.
Operation of the infotainment system is readily understood and easily accomplished, thanks in part to the inclusion of knobs and push buttons – traditional controls most people instinctively reach for to make a fast change in volume or other modifications.
When the second and third row seats are in upright position, the cargo area isn’t much to write home about: 14.4 cubic feet. With the third row seats folded, 38.2 cubic feet are there for the filling, and with second and third row seats folded, 71.2 cubic feet becomes available.
2019 MAZDA CX-9 SIGNATURE AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $46,360
Price as driven: $48,035
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.