2016 Mazda CX-9 is Must-See, Must-Do, Must-Have

What do you get when you cross a family hauler with the spirit of design? The 2016 Mazda CX-9 three-row crossover. Mazda’s flagship arrived in its first iteration in 2006 offering seating for up to seven and a break from conventional design. The second-generation vehicle takes family functionality to another level.

2016 Mazda CX-9/Images courtesy Mazda

2016 Mazda CX-9/Images courtesy Mazda

Design has been an apparent key ingredient over at the Mazda studios in recent years as all its latest vehicles feature an expression of the KODO-Soul of Motion foundation, with the new CX-9 being no exception. They began with a light but rigid architecture and gave the 2016 model a new powertrain to complement its bolder styling and luxurious interior appointments. By all counts, this new three-row CUV is setting the new standard.


The CX-9 greets you with a big smile as you approach it from the front. It seems eager to get you inside and prove just how much it enjoys being on the road. Its ride is supple, compliant, and oh so quiet as it handles any type surface or direction that comes its way. The big Mazda tackles corners and curves almost as easily as the straightaways. It features four-wheel independent suspension with stabilizer bars fore and aft. The CX-9 is offered in front- or i-Activ predictive all-wheel drive that works equally well in dry, wet, or frozen environments.


Under the hood is what should be the new standard for Mazda – a turbocharged variant of the new SKYACTIV 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates up to 250hp on higher-octane fuel (227hp on regular) and 310 lb. ft. of torque. The added torque is a real welcome for owners wishing to tow anything larger than a lawn tractor. The 2.5T is mated to the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed sport automatic transmission (with sport shift mode of course). We found this powertrain combination to work very well offering good acceleration and speed and quieting our initial qualms over a smaller engine in a family hauler.


The 2016 CX-9 offers the latest Mazda safety and driving technology in the form of i-ACTIVSENSE (radar cruise control and blind spot monitoring) along with a host of other features. Some of those include dynamic stability control, traction control, roll stability control, trailer stability assist, three-row side air curtains, rear cross traffic alert, rear backup sensors, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, smart brake support, and smart city brake support.


Mazda designers and engineers worked with a principle of Jinba Ittai in presenting the 2016 CX-9. What translates to “horse and rider as one” is also interpreted into a sense that the driver should have utter confidence and control in the vehicle. Slip inside the new CUV and that mantra is apparent whether sitting still or zipping down the highway. The CX-9 is offered in several trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. Our recent tester arrived in the latter with AWD. If Mazda were to have a luxury division, the Signature model would be its flag bearer. The interior is adorned in gorgeous rosewood and auburn Nappa leather – along with a very lengthy list of amenities.


The front cockpit bathes the driver in luxury and technology. All controls are well within easy reach and displays are quickly readable, especially the new Active Driving Display, Mazda’s version of heads up display with pertinent information projected onto the windshield above the instrument panel. The CX-9 features a large display monitor atop the center stack for infotainment broadcast and there is a multi-function commander control in the center console to access all of these features. Rounding out your motoring experience is the Bose 12-speaker premium audio system for your listening pleasure.


Some of the other highlights of our Signature CX-9 tester include stylish 20-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, rear privacy glass, power moonroof, aluminum roof rails, power rear lift gate, adaptive front lighting, high beam control, LED lighting fog and daytime running lights and Signature grille, rear roof spoiler, and bright finish exhaust outlets.


Pricing for the 2016 CX-9 from Mazda begins at $31,520 for a Sport model with our loaded Signature AWD tester arriving with a sticker of $45,215. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway and the CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 lbs. in all trim levels.


Just as the first-generation CX-9 did, the new 2016 flagship Mazda seeks to break the mold of modern family and activity vehicles after a week behind the wheel we believe Mazda has done just that. From its unique design and comfortable interior to its standout powertrain offering, the new CX-9 is a must-have on your shopping list for this segment.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.