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Entry price: $32,130

Price as tested: $41,865

Likes: Great looks, solid build, interior fit and finish, Skyactiv philosophy.

Dislikes: Sport and Touring models don’t offer some high-tech safety features until you get to Grand Touring and Signature.

This week, we’re reviewing the impressive second generation 2018 Mazda CX-9, arriving this time in front-drive Grand Touring trim and featuring three rows of seating. As for history, the initial CX-9 came to market in 2006 and went all the way through model year 2015 in its first generation. Built in Hiroshima, Japan, all CX-9 models highlight Mazda’s Skyactiv build integration principles and then adds some of its “Zoom-Zoom” performance enhancements thanks to a turbocharged four-cylinder.

Categorized by the EPA as a midsize SUV, this second-generation CX-9 is not only shorter in length than the last generation, it offers a longer wheelbase by 2.1-inches that impacts several areas of successful design. Notable are the larger interior dimensions yet a lighter overall weight by some 170 pounds, resulting in upping performance and fuel mileage thanks to lighter and stronger build components. 

When you add the above mentioned new CX-9 attributes and the Skyactiv vehicle dynamics into the build equation, you end up with a CX-9 that, although unseen to the eye, delivers a precisely matched suspension, fine shifting transmission, turbo engine and computerized high-tech safety. This results in a Mazda SUV that is sure-footed in the handling area while delivering energetic performance.  

Starting at $32,130 for the entry Sport front-drive, next up is the Touring at $34,960 and then our Grand Touring at $40,470. These three front-drive models also offer optional AWD underpinnings for $1,800 more. If you choose the top flight Signature, these models arrive with standard AWD and are near fully loaded for a retail of $44,315.  

Under the hood of all CX-9s sits the aforementioned 250-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo four that generates 310 lb. ft. of torque and mates to a six-speed automatic. Fuel mileage is decent as the EPA numbers are 22 city and 28 highway for front-drive models and 20 and 26, respectively, for the AWD CX-9. Expect zero to 60 mph in about 7.0 to 7.6 seconds depending on model choice. Traction is aided by large 20-inch all season tires on nice alloy wheels on the Grand Touring series. As for gasoline, regular fuel is fine, but when you fill up with premium 93-octane you’ll have the full Mazda turbo 250-horses available to you. On regular fuel, the engine produces about 227-horses.

This new generation CX-9 features a family resemblance that follows the progress of its other “CX” SUV siblings, specifically the CX-3 (sub-compact) and CX-5 (compact) models. Outwardly, CX-9 is very pleasing to the eye especially considering  it receives a 12-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System with AudioPilot, LED Fog lights, power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch open feature, interior sunshade, front parking sensors, rear backup sensors, second-row retractable window sunshades, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with four-month trial subscription, and a Mazda Navigation System all as standard fare.

Currently, Mazda dealers have leftover 2018 CX-9 models available and being that the 2019 CX-9 is similar, practical shoppers can receive some nice incentives. Your Mazda dealer is awaiting your visit to explain everything in detail. If you live in warm states, remember that the front-drive Grand Touring is identical to the Signature AWD model in that important safety area and amenities, too.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.


Auto Bits

3 tire safety tips
for end of summer

Now is the time to spend a few extra minutes performing a tire safety check. Here are three easy steps to ensure your tires will be ready to handle the season change and keep you and your family safe year-round.

Stay on top of your tire pressure. Many drivers enjoy road trips from early summer through October and both under-inflation and over-inflation can affect your ride. Overinflated tires can degrade ride comfort, reduce traction, cause fast centerline wear and result in increased susceptibility to tire/suspension damage due to harder impacts with potholes and road hazards. Similarly, Underinflated tires are prone to uneven wear, heat buildup leading to structural damage, and reduced impact resistance.

Check your tire tread depth. After a long summer of family road trips, you will need to determine if your summer tires have worn out. While obvious signs of damage such as cracks, splits and punctures can help drivers identify a problem, it’s also important to check tire tread depth monthly.

Know what questions to ask when buying new tires. Once you decide it’s time to invest in new tires, you should know the right questions to ask. The answers will vary depending on the region and the type of weather you live in. 



Did you know

An exhaust system that is too loud, either modified or needing repairs, can be cause for a ticket.