2017 Mazda CX-9 is Well-rounded, Family-minded Driving Fun

2017 Mazda CX-9

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row crossover whose primary points of appeal are family-friendly ergonomics, a great look inside and out, and a fun drive dynamic. The CX-9 competes in a busy arena of crossovers and manages to stand out for its Mazda-infused qualities.

The manufacturer says

When it comes to driving, there’s no such thing as a “minor” detail. That’s why we considered every single one when we crafted the Mazda CX-9.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Mazda
  • Year, Model: 2017 CX-9
  • Class, Type: Midsize crossover
  • Base Price: $31,520
  • MSRP as tested: $43,610
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The CX-9 debuted with its current look and build about two years ago and immediately turned heads for its great curb presence and its innovative drivetrain. The CX-9 has seen a couple of minor updates since its original debut and for 2017 remains a compelling choice in the three-row crossover segment.

Those buying family vehicles like this Mazda are looking for seating capacity, versatility, safety, and solid daily use qualities. The CX-9 delivers on all those fronts, offering seating for up to seven, the ability to morph to allow various cargo and passenger options, and very high safety marks.

Under the hood, the 2017 CX-9 also boasts some interesting technology that helps to make it one of the few three-row crossovers that’s also fun to drive. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine found there is turbocharged to 227 horsepower and 310 foot pounds of torque. Because the CX-9 is lightweight, that’s more than enough to propel it. What’s more, the turbochargers stay spooled up and ready to provide power boosting within most of the Mazda’s RPM range thanks to some tweaking.

Those tweaks include changes to the exhaust inlet ports for the recirculation system which feeds exhaust back into the engine to be re-burned for cleaner emissions. That recirculated exhaust is both cooled (by about 20 percent) and siphoned through the turbo. The former allows the Mazda CX-9’s engine to run at higher compression without overheating while the latter means that the turbo fan remains spinning even at lower RPM. Both of those mean better efficiency and more power for less fuel.

The EPA gives the 2017 Mazda CX-9 an MPG rating of 25 mpg combined when in front-wheel drive and 23 mpg combined with its all-wheel drive configuration. In the real world, at high altitude, we saw an average of 23.5 mpg overall during mixed driving with varied passenger loads in the AWD model. So the EPA’s estimates are spot on and will probably be beaten by many drivers.

Inside, the 2017 CX-9 benefits from Mazda’s repeated wins with Wards for best interior experiences. The CX-9 has excellent seating and a very well done layout that’s both accommodating and ergonomic. Entry and exit from all four doors is easy thanks to wide openings and low sills. The third row is meant only for kids, however, and will be cramped for anyone larger than a tween.

Cargo space is also at a premium in the 2017 CX-9, standing at only 72 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. That’s behind the segment average and is the price paid for the good looks of the Mazda. Most, however, will not likely notice the limited cargo space in most daily use and weekly shopping excursions, so that price is not as high as might be thought.

The CX-9 is not speedy, by any means, but it can be a bit punchy when pressed and is definitely fun to drive thanks to a tight steering feel and a strong body dynamic. LIke most Mazda vehicles, the CX-9 benefits from tight construction and the feeling of a fast pace. So while it may not be an off-the-line race car like some, it’s definitely fun in what are otherwise routine everyday situations.

What we like

Great exterior look.

Excellent fuel economy that’s real-world achievable.

What we don't

Cargo not as spacious as some others.

Some competitors offer a faster drive.

Conclusions

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 is a sporty, fun three-row crossover that offers everything a growing family might need. Its limitations are minimal compared to its strengths and it’s definitely one of the better family crossovers we’ve driven this year.

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