What people are saying about Mazda’s revamped CX-9

Mazda unveiled its redesigned CX-9 crossover at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November — the model’s first full overhaul since its introduction in 2007. Mazda has called the three-row crossover a “high-end model” and has hopes of selling 50,000 vehicles a year worldwide. There was no shortage of commentary on the CX-9 following its unveiling.

“We’ll admit that we’re impressed, and we look forward to sliding behind the wheel of this new model — we loved the way the old CX-9 drove, and we’re promised a similarly communicative driving experience for this one. The only question is whether enough people shopping in this segment will ignore the spec sheet to meet Mazda’s goal of moving approximately 40,000 CX-9s per year.” — Erik Johnson, Car and Driver

“I’ll admit that many of Mazda’s cars across the lineup are little lacking in the power department, especially for a brand whose tagline was ‘zoom-zoom.’ However, I have a hard time believing that folks will find 310 foot-pounds of torque in the new CX-9 ‘sluggish’ during the daily commute or on the way to soccer practice.” — Tom McParland, Jalopnik

“In terms of styling, Mazda chose not to mess with a good thing, as the CX-9 is a fitting evolution of the ‘Kodo’ design language that has permeated through their whole lineup. Sleek curves and handsome chrome accents make this crossover seriously good looking, and almost sports-wagon-like in its appearance.

“Inside is no different story, as the show-bound pre-production model was fitted with a handsome brown Nappa leather interior and seven seats. Silver and black trim, as well as faux wood accents, bring this economy crossover upmarket at first glance, and will certainly please buyers looking for a bargain price but premium look.” — Brian Leon, New York Daily News

“Before cars can become fully autonomous and drive themselves from point A to point B without any human input, drivers are going to have to get used to — and trust — the technology. That’s where Lane Keep Assist systems (LKAS), a technology that uses radar and digital cameras to keep a car in its lane on the freeway, comes into play.

“When added to a car, like Mazda has done with its new CX-9, the tech — in addition to Mazda Radar Cruise Control — can introduce a driver and his or her family to the semi-autonomous systems without overwhelming or frightening them.

“Thankfully, the CX-9 offers more than a gentle steering-assist system for the new generation. It also ups the level of sportiness, efficiency and overall refinement on the full-size, family-friendly crossover.” — Nick Jaynes, Mashable

“For a large three-row SUV, the redesigned 2016 CX-9 looks surprisingly trim with taut exterior styling. Mazda’s trapezoidal grille is larger and more prominent, and it follows in the footsteps of the grille treatments on Audi and BMW models with its three-dimensional chrome surround. Though it doesn’t do cargo room any favors, I particularly like the raked rear roof pillars, which lend the CX-9 a sporty look.” — Mike Hanley, Cars.com

“Mazda’s zoom-zoom midsize crossover may be the most handsome sight in its segment. Luxury or mainstream. Audi Q5, the object in your mirror may be closer than it appears. The 9’s pleasing exterior sheet metal comes with European-like handling and interior layout. And despite a single engine offering, Mazda’s first turbo promises plenty of low-end torque to go with its typically impressive SKYACTIVE fuel efficiency. What’s more, the Mazda comes with three rows of seats — mandatory for the mainstream segment but scorned by similarly sized Audi and Bimmers. So, if it’s European flavor you want, but without having to sacrifice family practicalities and a year’s income, the Mazda is in your sweet spot.” — Henry Payne, The Detroit News

It was designed with the real world in mind, and in the real world, Mazda says, drivers of three-row SUVs like low-end torque. To that end, the engine uses a relatively small turbocharger for quick spool-up. With 17.4 psi of maximum boost blown into the high-compression engine (10.5:1) maximum torque is a robust 310 lb-ft, available at 2,000 rpm.

“The peak horsepower number, however, isn’t so high. On 93-octane (East-Coast premium) fuel, the engine produces 250 hp at 5,000 rpm. On regular 87-octane, that number drops to just 227 hp.

“And guess what? That’s probably a smart move. If three-row SUV drivers aren’t regularly banging off their rev limiters, they’re not using all of their big engine’s power. Having a lower peak output allows Mazda to use a smaller turbo for faster spool-up — and that’s far more important.”– Jason Cammisa, Motor Trend

“Mazda wanted to give the CX-9 a powerful foundation, which builds from a trapezoidal stance that looks steady on its haunches. Aiding this effect are shorter overhangs front and rear, although the wheelbase has been stretched 2.2 inches to increase legroom as well as ease of ingress and egress. The more fluid and active design we’ve seen in other Mazdas is apparent more in the upper half of the 2016 Mazda CX-9. Lines emerge primarily from the shield grille up front, which flows into the LED headlamps, with contours continuing along the side of the car toward the rear. A fast roofline echoes this approach, finishing at the rear with a nicely raked rear window. The result is an SUV that looks stylish but subtly capable, which is fitting for the Mazda that’s most geared toward utility as well as comfort.” — Eric Weiner, Automobile

“The cabin is more upscale for 2016, with materials such as Nappa leather, aluminum and Japanese rosewood. The CX-9 is available with a Bose premium sound system and Mazda Connect, which is Mazda’s answer to systems like SYNC and MyLink. The liberal use of sound-deadening material should make the interior significantly quieter than in the previous model. There are a variety of safety features in the new CX-9 as well, including advanced blind-spot monitoring, radar cruise control, lane keep assist and smart city brake support.” — Allyson Harwood, Kelley Blue Book

“Mazda’s dramatic ‘Kodo’ design theme scores another victory, this time on a seven-seat family crossover that’s the brand’s largest vehicle. The long nose and bold grille are unmistakable and should appeal to Mazda owners looking to carry a family and maintain sporty looks.” — Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press

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