Thursday, September 20, 2018

Top pick: Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9 (TC MY16) Azami 2WD wagon (27793959746).jpg

You’d be pretty daft to think that Mazda isn’t capable of making a great seven-seat crossover. The proof is in the CX-9 which in our opinion is one of the best options out there if you need seven-seats but don’t want to lose driving entertainment. It’s our top pick after all.

The 2.5 turbo four-cylinder pumps out 250hp and a diesel-like 310lb-ft torque. You can use regular fuel on this engine but the output will drop to 227hp and well a 23hp loss in power is not worth saving few nickels and dimes. We highly recommend using premium fuel to get the fuel 250hp from that four-cylinder engine. The best part of the CX-9 is the fact that despite it not having much horsepower it doesn’t feel sluggish to drive; it’s actually the complete opposite. The high torque at low revs gives the CX-9 so much pull that driving around town is smoother than you’d think and when it comes to passing on the highway, the four-cylinder manages to cope with the heavy weight of the CX-9 with surprising amounts of flexibility. Steering feedback is amazing and the chassis manages to be comfortable and agile. Road noise is present but it is far from annoying or a deal breaker, you can easily drain it out with the radio, wind noise wont’ be much of an issue either thanks to good interior insulation.

The front seats offer superb comfort and the driving position is spot on good. The second row is good in space as well while the third row is surprisingly comfortable with plenty of comfort features to help it feel less claustrophobic. The CX-9 may not have the same amount of cargo space as a Chevy Suburban with both two rows of seats folded down but to say that the CX-9 isn’t roomy enough ultimately means that you’ll have to pick either a Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition EL.

The dashboard is first class in refinement and the fact that all the controls and dials are within reach of the driver’s hand and are easy to use. The infotainment system is actually quite easy to navigate through with all the menus logically laid out, even though we still bash them for being too distracting while on the go. The Bluetooth connectivity is so seamless to use and isn’t as fussy as the Nissan Maxima we had as a tester.

Our tester car was the Grand Touring trim which came with LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, optional all-wheel-drive system and a Bose premium audio system. Also included in our CX-9 was navigation system, lane departure warning, distance pacing cruise control and blind spot monitoring system (this feature came in handy as we nearly cut-off a few people who rode in our blind spot during a brief drive on the highway).

There are few crossovers that really do tickle our fancy and make us wish we had a need for seven-seats. The CX-9 is one of those crossovers. It really does live up to the ‘zoom-zoom’ with the way it feels on the road and how comfortable and easy it is to live with despite it being a large seven-seat crossover. The only other crossover that doesn’t feel as daunting to drive is the Mercedes GLE and well not everyone wants to pay the premium for one, thus the CX-9 literally is the best of the best and is our top pick.

Likes: The turbo four-cylinder is smooth and offers plenty of flexibility, while running costs is within reason. It can fit up to seven people and doesn’t feel daunting to drive.

Dislikes: Don’t use regular fuel!

Our pick: Most people will be happiest with the Sport or Touring trim. We highly suggest going right for the Grand Touring Trim. It comes with so much kit standard and the asking price is actually quite reasonable. It may be a tad too pricey for some but what you get in return is well justified.

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