Mazda’s largest family hauler gets a tech upgrade for 2019, but it comes with a bigger price tag as well. Across the range, there are four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. All but the top-end Signature are front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available across the range. You still get a 2.5-liter, turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. More still, you also get the same six-speed automatic transmission as the 2018 model. Style, trims and powertrain remains unchanged in the 2019 Mazda CX-9.
So what has changed? Getting back to the tech front, Mazda’s CX-9 finally gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support on all but the base Sport model. The new model also gets ventilated front seats, as well as a 360-degree View Monitor (more on that later).
The other thing that’s changed in the 2019 Mazda CX-9? The pricing scheme. All models get a price hike over the 2018 model. Sport models aren’t much more expensive, but you do see a wider gap the higher you move up the model range. We tested a Grand Touring model — just one step below the Signature trim.
2019 Mazda CX-5 Pricing*
|Trim||Drivetrain||2019 MSRP||2018 MSRP||Difference|
*Includes $995 destination charge.
Among all the three row SUVs, I prefer the 2019 Mazda CX-9 to virtually every other crossover in its class. The sloping roofline makes the car look much more sporty, even for a big family hauler. The sleek front end makes the car look elegant, even for its size, and the tapering rear edge makes the car pleasant to look at from any angle. There’s a bit more chrome trim than I would like, but Mazda aims to make this more of a premium proposition than the brand’s older crossovers and SUVs.
Then there’s the interior. I’ve said before that Mazda makes some of the best interiors in the class, and that remains true in the CX-9. Everything you touch, from the steering wheel to the shifter to the center console, feels like it comes from an upscale luxury model. Signature models also add fine wood and leather to the equation, but even the base models carry high-quality, pleasant feeling materials.
While the interior is a cut above, it’s not perfect. The 8.0-inch touchscreen display (7.0-inch in Sport models) still feels like it’s stuck onto the dashboard, rather than an integral part of it. The unit feels slotted into place, where other manufacturers have taken to actually integrating it into the dash design. The panel gaps in each door where the vent trim continues into the door handles and beyond also feels wider than it should, given the upscale nature you see throughout the rest of the interior.
Comfort and Convenience
When you take a car and make it sportier, you often have to compromise on ride quality and noise. Bearing that in mind, the 2019 Mazda CX-9 is much, much quieter than other Mazdas I’ve driven. That comes thanks to additional soundproofing. The ride has also been retuned, and it’s a bit on the firm side. I don’t particularly mind that, since it is still comfortable. However, there are more comfortable options out there if that’s your main focus.
Let’s stick with comfort for a moment and talk about the actual driver compartment. And I do mean “compartment”, since the raised center console really hems you in. Mazda states the CX-9 has 41.0 inches of front row leg room and 56.7 inches of hip room, which is on par with the rest of the class.
It’s not just the front where the CX-9 feels cramped, either. The second row offers a reasonable 39.4 inches of legroom, but the third row is tight. Every inch counts here, and 29.7 in the back of the 2019 Mazda CX-9 isn’t enough to comfortably seat adults, at least not without compromising second row legroom. Mind you, at least you can compromise, since the second row slides forward. Most of the time, though, you’ll want to stow those third seats for better cargo room, unless you’re hauling the kids around.
Solid tech, with a few misses
Mazda offers a good range of driver assistance features — lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and the like. On Grand Touring and Signature models, you also get a 7.0-inch TFT digital meter in the instrument cluster. Those are all fine, but there is an issue: the 360-degree camera system. Yes, it is a new standard feature on Grand Touring and Signature models. However, in the same vein as the Mazda6, all the cameras offer up poor resolution from all angles — even the rear.
There are some great tech points on the 2019 Mazda CX-9, as well. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on Touring and above models. Passengers can control the system through the touchscreen display (when the car is stopped), or through the rotary dial on the center console. The MazdaConnect infotainment system itself isn’t the most intuitive or responsive on the market. That said, just adding CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome additions. Auto-folding power mirrors and a 12-speaker Bose audio system and ventilated front seats come standard on Grand Touring and Signature models. Touring and above models get a frameless rearview mirror, which I felt was a nice premium touch.
Power and torque figures remain the same for the 2019 Mazda CX-9. The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine manages 250 horsepower on premium fuel, or 227 horsepower on 87 octane (regular). Torque is the same regardless of fuel, at 310 lb-ft. All CX-9s still come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
For a relatively large three-row SUV, I was actually impressed with the CX-9’s acceleration off the line. Mike and Nathan tested the car at a mile above sea level, and it managed a 9.33 second 0-60 time. Not bad for a big crossover. Hit the Sport mode button and put your foot down, and progress comes easy once the turbo spools up. It’s a surefooted car, as well, with G-Vectoring Control and predictive all-wheel drive system.
While the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly enough, it is outdated by modern standards. While its competitors come with 8- and 9-speed automatics, Mazda’s remarkable turbocharged SkyActiv engine would feel even better if it had more gears to play with.
Fuel economy is average, with all-wheel drive models returning 20 City / 26 Highway / 23 Combined mpg. Over the course of my testing, I managed about 24 mpg in mixed driving conditions, according to the car’s trip computer.
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is a good crossover, and it delivers the road manners you’d expect from Mazda. It’s handsome, it’s reasonably fun to drive, and it’s comfortable as well as quiet. Mazda says it builds its cars for drivers, and it shows in the CX-9 as well as the rest of the range.
In the brand’s move upmarket, the CX-9 is also getting more expensive. Top-end Signature models can skirt $50,000 with some accessories fitted. For some, that may be too much, as Mazda has historically been focused on value over prestige. It’s worth noting that the smaller, two-row CX-5 now comes with that 2.5-liter turbo engine and rings in about $8,000 less expensive. If you absolutely need that third row, there are more spacious options available.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring
|Base MSRP:||$33,275 (base model)|
|Price as Tested:||$45,310|
|Engine:||2.0-liter turbocharged I-4|
|Drivetrain (Layout):||Front engine, all-wheel drive|
|Horsepower:||250 hp @ 5,000 RPM (93 AKI fuel)|
|Torque:||310 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM|
|Suspension:||Front: Independent MacPerson strut w/ stabilizer bar
Rear: Multi-link w/ stabilizer bar
|Brakes:||Front: 12.6-inch ventilated front discs (2-piston calipers)
Rear: 12.8-inch solid rear discs (1-piston calipers)
|Tires:||Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus P255/50 R20 104V all-seasons|
|Fuel capacity:||19.5 gallons (AWD models)|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||20 City / 26 Highway / 23 Combined mpg|
|Width:||77.5 inches (w/ wheel arch molding)|
|Turning Circle:||38.8 feet|
|Ground Clearance:||8.8 inches|
|Curb Weight:||4,383 pounds|