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Entry price: $33,890

Price as tested: $43,595

Likes: More standard features, high-tech safety now standard, great looks.

Dislikes: Sport models don’t offer some other high-tech safety, not much else.

This week, it’s the impressive second generation 2020 Mazda CX-9 we review, arriving in Grand Touring trim with front-drive and featuring three rows of seating. New for 2020 is more torque coming from its Skyactiv engineered four-cylinder engine along with more standard amenities across every trim level.

The torque enhancement comes from the already peppy turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-4. It now generates 320 lb. ft. of torque, up 10 from last year’s 310 when using 93 octane fuel. If you choose to use 87 octane, which will not hurt the engine in any manner, torque stays at 310. The horsepower figures are 250 on the 93 or 227 on the 87.

Coupled to a six-speed automatic, EPA fuel estimates are 22 city and 28 highway for front drive CX-9 models, while the AWD’s come in at 20 city and 26 highway. Expect zero to 60 mph in about 7 to 7.6 seconds depending on fuel octane choice.

As for the amenity additions, the entry CX-9 Sport adds a power driver seat, heated front seats, on/off headlights, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers and enhanced side mirrors.

On the safety side, all trims now come with Mazda’s I-Activesense safety and driver-assist features. Those include lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and Smart Brake. When you add the already standard safety items like rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, Smart City Brake Support, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, Mazda now offers one of the best entry level safety vehicles in the industry.

Our Grand Touring model also found some nice upgrades compared to the 2018 and 2019 models. The previous 8-inch touch screen is replaced by a new 9-inch display, although lower trim CX-9s like the entry Sport still use a 7-inch display. The Touring trim and up finds the second-row bench seats with a power tilt and slide feature. If you opt for a Grand Touring model, a hands-free power liftgate, two USB ports for third row passengers and 20-inch tires and wheels add to the improvements.  

Pricing across the line starts with the entry front-drive CX-9 Sport starting at $33,890, followed by the Touring at $35,710, Grand Touring at $41,550 and top line Signature at $45,215. Adding AWD to the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring will cost $1,900 more while AWD is standard on the Signature series.

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 apply some of its “Zoom-Zoom” performance enhancements thanks to the aforementioned improved turbocharged four-cylinder engine.  

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 its 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. The lighter curb weight also contributes to increased fuel mileage, overall.

When you add the above mentioned new CX-9 attributes and the Skyactiv vehicle dynamics into the build equation, you end up with a 2020 CX-9 that delivers a correctly 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 brisk performance.  

All CX-9 models feature a family resemblance that follows the progress of its other “CX” SUV siblings, specifically the CX-3 (sub-compact), all new CX-30 (compact) and CX-5 (larger compact) models.

Outwardly, CX-9 is pleasing to the eye, and the Grand Touring features 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 trial subscription and a Mazda Navigation System all as standard fare. There’s no need for any expensive options with this trim.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.

The 2020 Mazda CX-9. [Mazda]


Auto Bits

Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye goes 203 mph

No pandemic can stop speed and power junkies who have been waiting for this day.

The 797-horsepower 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, “with the most powerful production V-8 engine, a quarter-mile elapsed time of 10.6 seconds and a top speed of 203 miles per hour” will start at $80,090, Dodge announced Aug. 31.

The revered and feared Hellcat has been called a “thug,” a “hoodlum” and a “bully” by thefastlanecar.com.

“As America’s only four-door muscle car, the 2021 Dodge Charger does what no other sedan does — delivers power, performance, all-wheel-drive (AWD) capability and the ability to carry the family or friends,” said Tim Kuniskis, global head of Alfa Romeo and head of Passenger Cars-Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat, FCA-North America, in a statement released Aug. 31.

“And for about $100 per horse, you get the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world with the new 797-horsepower Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye,” he said.

Dodge unveiled prices for its full Charger lineup, which range from $29,995 to $78,595 U.S. manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), not including the destination charge.

Detroit Free Press


Did You Know

According to Car and Driver, the 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS produces 108 decibels inside the car.