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Motoring: 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature


While the 2017 Mazda CX-9 does have a few faults, it is overall a rather impressive vehicle.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 13th, 2017

The last time I got to drive the all-new, second-generation model of the Mazda CX-9, it was during its launch event in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, back in May 2016.

It was a beautiful setting, and the weather was just perfect.

To get a real-world test, I thought I’d try on the 2017 CX-9 in my local environment, and also in winter, just to see how well it fares when the weather gets gross. It just so happens, that the two weeks I had this vehicle, we were being hit by a snowstorm.

The harsh, cold climate also allowed me to test its other features.

I also had a lot of distance to cover, as this was the vehicle that I’d be using to go to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. So, how did it fare?

I think I had barely covered a kilometer in the CX-9, and I knew I had the right vehicle for the task at hand. I was seated in an all-wheel SUV that had heated seats, a heated steering wheel and automatic climate control. I also had adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, navigation, satellite radio, etc.

Often times, having features is not enough; they have to work properly too. The 2017 CX-9 has this covered because the seats are extremely comfortable, and no matter how cold the weather, every feature worked flawlessly. I particularly liked the heated steering wheel because it warms up to what I consider an ideal temperature; it’s neither too hot nor too mild.

As I covered the distance, I also started to really appreciate how well made the new CX-9 is. The fit and finish is just superb and the ergonomics are also well thought out. It is also quiet thanks to a healthy dose of insulation. Couple that with a wonderful, 12 speaker Bose sound system, the CX-9 is the kind of vehicle you can just sit back, relax and enjoy as you go from city to city. You can also bring lots of friends for your journey, as this is a seven- passenger vehicle.

Propelling you along is a mighty impressive motor. It’s a turbocharged, 2.5 litre, four-cylinder unit, which on regular pump gas, gives you 227 horsepower to play with, but on premium (93 octane) gives you 250 horsepower. Torque is set at 310 pounds per foot and that is all available to you from 2,000 revolutions per minute.

While the base CX-9 is offered in front-wheel drive guise, my GT Signature tester had power going to all wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox, which shifts gears smoothly and quickly.

While most four-cylinder vehicles aren’t smooth under load, the CX-9 is much better than many of its rivals in this regard; on refinement it is as smooth as a V6 powered vehicle.

The CX-9 seems to be good, but what about the negatives, are there any?

There are a few I can point out. First of all is the fuel economy; while Mazda says they went with a four-cylinder turbocharged motor rather than a V6 mainly for economy, the end result is not nearly as frugal as you’d like.

I averaged 11.6 litres per 100 kilometres in my test cycle, and that puts this in the thirsty category. For comparison, the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6, which also has a boosted four-cylinder motor, averaged just 10.0 litres per 100 kilometres. I think the fault lies with the transmission, as with just six gears to work with, it doesn’t have an ideal spread across the range; an eightspeed gearbox would help it immensely.

I also am not a fan of its electric power steering system, as it doesn’t give a lot of feedback as to what the front wheels are doing, which on a slippery surface adds to the guessing game.

Also, while it is a seven-passenger vehicle, you neither have a lot of legroom for the third row passengers nor much luggage space if all seats are up. However, most seven-passenger SUVs suffer from this issue, so the CX-9 is not alone in this.

Apart from these niggles, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is a wonderful vehicle.

As for pricing, it’s good, but can be improved on. Base price is $35,600 for a GS FWD model, while my loaded GT Signature tester costs $50,100.

That might seem like a lot, but spend some time with it, and you’ll realize, that the new CX-9 is worth every nickel.
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