2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature
Class: Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 413
Fuel used: 20.4 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 20.2 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/26/23 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas recommended
Base price: $45,365 (not including $995 destination charge)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Options on test vehicle: Cargo mat ($100), rear-seat entertainment system ($1995), illuminated door-sill trim plates ($575), special paint ($200)
Price as tested: $49,230
The great: Classy cabin trim; sporty driving personality for a three-row midsize SUV
The good: Respectable acceleration
The not so good: Some finicky infotainment controls; not quite as spacious inside as some class rivals
Mazda makes the CX-9—its midsize 3-row crossover—a safe and alert vehicle. It also can make it a fairly plush one.
The latest CX-9 to come Consumer Guide’s way was a 2019 Signature, the top of the 4-tier lineup. In terms of general dimensions and powertrain, it’s like any other all-wheel-drive CX-9. (The Signature comes only with AWD, whereas Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring can also be had as front-wheel-drive vehicles.) The difference is in details like auburn Nappa-leather seats and trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with specific stitching, Santos rosewood inlays on the center console, LED overhead accent lighting, and specific LED grille accent lighting that are exclusive to the Signature.
There’s a rich, warm look to the 2-tone interior but aluminum trim on the instrument panel, door panels, and steering wheel keeps the combination from seeming too dark. Switchgear has a solid, quality feel in operation—even, truth be told, the console-mounted Commander Control infotainment dial with which we have our differences. Cushy, soft-touch surfaces cover the upper half of the dash, much of the four door panels, and even the upper halves of the console sides.
The steering wheel is heated. So are the seats in the first two rows, and the front seats are ventilated too. Other standard-equipment niceties include things like a power driver’s seat with memory, a power sunroof, second-row window sunshades, 3-zone automatic climate control, 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio, and satellite radio. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity is new to the CX-9 for 2019, and comes standard on all but the base Sport. On the outside are 20-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding mirrors, full LED lighting, adaptive headlights with high-beam control, and aluminum roof rails.
Safety is addressed through a raft of tech aids. Smart Brake Support provides collision mitigation. There are blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, and rear obstacle detection.
There’s good passenger room on comfortable and supportive seats in the first two rows. Three adults can potentially fit across the 60/40-split second-row bench for which the seat backs recline. Padding on the backs of the third-row seats is skimpier, the cushions are low, and legroom is quite limited. This is an area probably best left to the younger set. Tilt-and-slide second-row seats make it possible to reach the back row, but entries and exits still aren’t all that easy. Varied and fairly convenient personal-item storage spaces are available to passengers in all three rows.
Cargo room is somewhat limited behind the third-row seats, though the floor panel can be removed for a little more depth (or left in place to provide a covert space for small items). The 50/50-split third-row seats retract easily via release levers in the cargo bay to form a sizable flat cargo floor. If the second-row seats are also folded, the result is a vast, uniform load platform, albeit with a gap of several inches from the rest of the cargo bed.
For power, Mazda is sticking with what it thinks works: a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic that’s been part of the plan since the current model hit the market in 2016. The engine still generates 250 horsepower on premium fuel or 227 horsepower on regular gas. It gets going efficiently from a standing start, and it cruises smoothly on the highway, where it displays some decent passing power. A toggle switch on the console activates “Sport” mode, which delays transmission upshifts for a modicum of livelier acceleration. The EPA rates AWD CX-9s like the Signature at 20 mpg in city driving, 26 mpg on the highway, and 23 combined. CG editors collectively averaged 20.27 mpg in a 413-mile test in which almost 70 percent of their driving was in city conditions.
The CX-9 handles smartly—standard G-Vectoring Control, which varies engine torque in response to steering inputs in cornering, helps there. There’s fine passenger isolation from road bumps. Sport mode makes steering incrementally tighter and ride firmer.
With delivery, the 2019 CX-9 Signature starts at $46,360. The test truck priced out at $49,230 as equipped, thanks in large part to the optional rear-seat entertainment system, a $1995 add-on. Even if you don’t need the level of luxury that the Signature brings, there’s a high-grade midsize crossover packed within any CX-9.
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