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2017 Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD Review

4 years ago

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)

Engine
Capacity
2.5L
Cylinders
4
Induction
Single turbocharger
Power
170kW at 5,000rpm
Torque
420Nm at 2,000rpm
Configuration
Torque converter
Power to weight ratio
91kW / tonne
Fuel
Fuel type
Petrol
Fuel capacity
74 litres
Consumption
8.8L/100km
Average Range
841 kilometres
Drivetrain
Transmission
Automatic
Drivetrain
All wheel drive
Engine configuration
In-line
Gears
6
Dimensions
Length
5.08 metres
Width
1.97 metres
Height
1.75 metres
Unoccupied weight
1,865 kilograms
Cargo space seats up
810 litres
Cargo seats down
1,641 litres

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