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AUTO REVIEW: 2019 Mazda CX-9

Frank Washington | 1/9/2019, 3:36 p.m.
Mazda is incrementally improving its midsize three row crossover vehicle the CX-9. But don’t get it twisted; this was a ...

Mazda is incrementally improving its midsize three row crossover vehicle the CX-9. But don’t get it twisted; this was a good crossover to begin with but now it can compete with top notch premium crossovers.

Style is not a shortcoming with Mazda. The smooth lines of the company’s KODO soul of motion design have been transferred to the larger CX-9 nicely. The signature look; a long nose, short rump and arching curves over the wheel wells have been proportioned so that the CX-9 does not look like an oversized station wagon.

When you start out with a good solid vehicle, incremental changes can seem like leaps forward. Externally, I thought the LED enhanced lighting that edged the bottom of the grille made the 2019 CX-9 look like a much more expensive vehicle.

I had the top of the line Signature all-wheel-drive trim and it featured LED headlights as well as LED fog lights and automatic high beams. The all-wheel-drive system can send up to 50 percent of the CX-9’s torque to the rear wheels. It can also route power to limit understeer during robust driving.

Under the hood was a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that made 227 horsepower using regular gasoline. Put in premium gas and its horsepower output jumps to 250. It made 310 pound-feet of torque at a relatively low 2,000 RPMs and it was mated to a six-speed transmission with a sport drive mode.

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 had an EPA fuel rating of 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined.

This engine had just enough oomph to make the 4,300 lb. 2019 CX-9 perky. It was smooth, there was acceleration when I needed it and it cruised at expressway speeds effortlessly.

Although the 2019 CX-9 had three rows of seats it didn’t drive big. The uni-body construction gave it the feel of a midsize sedan. And that is the way it handled.

I don’t think Mazda gives itself enough credit for its interior design which was smooth and flowing. While checking out the second row of the CX-9, I saw how the interior was one flowing unit; it seemed to slant rearward as if it was in motion.

A designer told me years ago that the interior is where luxury is conveyed and the Mazda CX-9 struck me as a premium vehicle. There was LED ambient lighting throughout. Although Mazda called the control center a center-stack in the press material it’s not. It was more horizontal and contemporary.

There was a floating infotainment screen atop the dash. The climate control vents were beneath it and then there was let’s call it the control island. The climate controls were just beneath the vents, the gear shift was beneath and set back in the shift console and behind that was the control dial for the infotainment system and audio volume dial. This was all in the control console which was slightly angled back matching the rest of the interior.

Those small additions that comprised a big leap forward were power folding sideview mirrors, cooled front seats to match the heated front seats and heated second row seats. The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is now equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.