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2017 Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD Review


Good points

  • Excellent interior packaging
  • Engaging to drive
  • Critical safety tech is standard

Needs work

  • No seat thigh-angle adjustment
  • AWD expensive at $4,000
  • No diesel engine offered
2017 Mazda CX-9 Snowflake White front – Chasing Cars

So, you’ve got your other half and two kids. You’re heading out in the car to Saturday sport and both little ones want to bring a friend – suddenly, you need a third row of seats. Enter the seven-seat SUV, which has become a firm favourite among Australian family buyers for this very reason. When the kids want to bring their friends, a five-seater just doesn’t cut it. The problem is that these large wagons can be pretty soulless to drive – but that’s where the 2017 Mazda CX-9 breaks from the pack. The second-generation car sports a turbo engine, buttoned-down handling, engaging steering and a great cabin, making it easily the most athletic – and we argue, the most desirable – of the seven-seater crop.

Like its rivals – the Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento – the CX-9 can be had at various price points, but even in affordable $42,490 Sport trim, you don’t feel short-changed: all CX-9s have an impressively premium interior and all feature navigation and alloy wheels. Three other grades follow – the high-spec GT and Azami models have real driveway red on 20-inch wheels – but for us, it’s the $48,890 Touring that makes the most sense, adding real value over the base model in the form of durable leather, a bigger nav screen, more USB ports for the kids and automatic headlights.

We borrowed the CX-9 Touring with all-wheel-drive – that’s a $4,000 option across the range – and found it to be a seriously compelling family car. Apart from size – it’s pretty enormous – the CX-9 manages to avoid the usual compromises of a large SUV. It’s good to drive and easy to steer; it’s pretty easy to see out of; it looks right, and you don’t need to spend big money to get one with lots of nice features. For most people, the CX-9 will spend its days on the school run or a road trip – and unless it goes to the snow, there’s not much need to shell out so much on an AWD system. The front-driver will be fine for nearly every buyer.

But the CX-9 isn’t just about good value – it’s also about the way Mazda have shifted course in the seven-seater segment. If the first-generation car was Americana school bus, the new shape is far more European in its approach – in fact, our best reference point for the CX-9 wasn’t a Kluger or a Santa Fe, it was an Audi Q7, a luxury car twice the Mazda’s price. Like the Audi, the CX-9 is a very complete package: there’s a refined and efficient engine, a great interior, lots of room and enjoyable driving dynamics. Only the lack of an optional diesel engine stands out as a missed opportunity.

For those into their cars, the most noteworthy changes for the CX-9 between generations can be found under the bonnet and on the road.

2017 Mazda CX-9 Snowflake White side – Chasing Cars

Key specs (as tested)

Single turbocharger
170kW at 5,000rpm
420Nm at 2,000rpm
Torque converter
Power to weight ratio
91kW / tonne
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
74 litres
Average Range
841 kilometres
All wheel drive
Engine configuration
5.08 metres
1.97 metres
1.75 metres
Unoccupied weight
1,865 kilograms
Cargo space seats up
810 litres
Cargo seats down
1,641 litres

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