2019 Mazda CX-9

By September 10, 2019

The Mazda CX-9 is a stylish and engaging three-row crossover with a soft ride and handling that can move with some sedans. It gets better in 2019 with an upgraded interior and more creature comforts, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all but the base Sport model.

There’s just one engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 250 horsepower and an awesome 310 pound-feet of torque, matching the power of some rivals with V-6 engines. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available. 

The 2019 CX-9 is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city, 28 highway, and 24 combined with front-wheel drive, and 20/26/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. The turbo engine needs premium fuel for the best acceleration; it runs on regular, but loses 23 horsepower. 

The CX-9 scores better in the area of safety, with five stars from the NHTSA, with four stars for head-on crash and rollover resistance. It earns a Top Safety Pick award from IIHS insurance industry, who give a “Superior” nod to the active safety technology, while noting that the headlights are only “Acceptable.”

The safety technology is standard on every model but the Sport, where it’s optional. The package includes automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam headlights.

Model Lineup

The 2019 CX-9 comes as Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature models, in standard front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive available for $1,800. 

The front-wheel-drive Sport for $32,280 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, three rows of seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen. The active safety package is optional for $1,290.

The $35,330 Touring adds the active safety package, leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8.0-inch screen, power liftgate, and power front seats. 

The $40,840 Grand Touring adds 20-inch wheels, a dual-pane sunroof, parking sensors, a head-up display, heated front and second row seats, heated steering wheel, and adaptive headlights.

The Signature for $45,365 comes with all-wheel drive, nappa leather, Bose audio, rosewood trim, LED headlights, and interior accent lighting. The CX-9 isn’t considered a luxury car, but the Signature gives any luxury crossover a run for the money. 

Exterior

The Mazda CX-9 is as stylish as it is practical, with clean sheetmetal and a sporty profile that we think makes it the best-looking crossover in its class. As other crossovers get more edgy and angular, the CX-9 goes the other way with extremely subtle curves; no one will ever look at the CX-9 and call it curvy, unless maybe it’s parked next to a Lexus. 

It has a big but tidy grille, smooth face with LED running lights, pronounced wheel arches, and a taper at the rear end.

Interior

Even on the base Sport, the materials feel expensive. The Signature model boasts Nappa leather and real wood trim. 

The infotainment system is updated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s controlled by a dial and click, which can be clunky. Entering navigation destinations tried our patience. 

The front seats are quite firm, too firm we think; even the top models could use softer cushioning. The bench in the second row is comfortable, the seats recline (manually) and the legroom is good, more than a Honda Pilot. The third row is too small for adults, though.

There are 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, but because the steep rake of the rear glass cuts into that. With the third row dropped, there’s 38.2 cubic feet, and we have a feeling that’s how the CX-9 will be driven around most of the time. 

Driving Impressions

The 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine doesn’t want for grunt, with 310 pound-feet of torque to push the 250 horsepower. Those are good numbers for a V-6, in fact.

Handling is the best dynamic feature of the CX-9. It’s engaging to drive, with steering that is light but direct. The turn-in is precise and the grip excellent, especially with all-wheel-drive. It’s nimble for a full-size crossover, and moves more like a mid-size vehicle. 

There are limits, however. The suspension is tuned for comfort. The ride can be plush, especially on the smaller 18-inch wheels. 

Final Word

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 has classy looks and excellent handling. Its seats are firm and its third row is small, but the turbo-4’s strong power gives it verve that few big crossovers can match.