In the market for a high-capacity people carrier, but don’t want to feel like you’re driving a high-capacity people carrier? Then Mazda has just the thing for you: the completely redesigned 2016 CX-9.
Originally released in 2006, the three-row, range-topping crossover finally gets a thorough makeover nine years later and features a fresh application of the automaker’s new KODO — Soul of Motion design language. Flowy, aerodynamic panels meet clean and crisp bodylines making the vehicle appear as though it can slip effortlessly through the air. Not bad for a seven-seater.
Glancing at the profile of the mid-size SUV you might think it’s bigger than the outgoing model, but in fact it’s shorter by 30 millimetres. Stubbier overhangs, a lengthier hood, 18 or 20-inch wheels and a stretched-out wheelbase contribute to this illusion.
Occupants stepping into the CX-9 will notice that the modern aesthetic carries over into the cabin as well. Similar to Mazda’s other new-generation offerings in the current lineup, a display screen rising up above the centre stack anchors the dash. A single piece of sculpted aluminum spans the area beneath, complemented by rosewood trim.
One of the best things about the interior is how easy it is to access the third row. Rather than the acrobatics required in some vehicles to climb in, passengers simply have to pull up on a lever and the centre row slides forward. The rear bench isn’t just a placeholder either. Two adults can be seated in relative comfort and with adequate legroom.
Only one engine is available in the CX-9: a 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G turbocharged four cylinder, the first turbo application in this series, that makes 227 horsepower (250 when using 93-octane gas) and 310 lb-ft of torque. The company opted for forced induction over a conventional V6 in order to maximize efficiency while still delivering above-average performance.
When carrying a full load of people, quick power delivery is never an issue even at high speeds without any gear hunting from the six-speed automatic transmission. The inside of the crossover remains a quiet space in almost all situations, making it possible to carry on a conversation from front to back while on the road.
The 2017 Mazda CX-9 starts at MSRP $35,300 in the front-wheel drive GS trim level, which comes standard with LED headlights and boasts a stellar estimated fuel consumption rating of 9.5 L/100 km (add $2,500 for all-wheel drive). In stores now.