Awards News SUV of the Year

Mazda CX-9: 2017 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalist

A former SUV of the Year winner looks to reclaim the title

A former SUV of the Year winner looks to reclaim the title

We Like: The sporty steering, rev-blipping shifts, meaty torque, and neutral chassis.

We Don’t Like: The weak AC; front-drive torque steer.

Hopes were exceptionally high for our 2008 SUV of the Year’s redesign, which follows in the footsteps of several sibling comparo champs (CX-5, MX-5, Mazda6). Could the “Best Drivers’ Three-row CUV” grab the calipers?

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Early logbook entries from the winding track praised the CX-9’s communicative steering, playful chassis dynamics, and perfectly tuned Sport mode transmission shifting, which bestows rev-matched downshift blips. On real-world curves, Scott Evans enjoyed the way it “glides from corner to corner, attacking them like a Mazda should—fun for the whole family.” Ride quality drew kudos on the gravel/Belgian block loop, as did the solid build quality and “bank-vault doors.” Nearly everyone felt the design inside and out looked elegant and upscale even if it doesn’t represent much “advancement.” Savvy interior packaging accommodates seven actual people. Sounds like a shoo-in.

Then the desert heat began to cook our Mazdas, overtaxing the AC systems (other competitors had no such problems) and causing their turbos to lose boost. Grumbling started about a lack of places to store and recharge gear, about heavy steering feel on straight highways, and about front-drive torque steer. Overzealous auto-emergency braking startled several testers queuing at a stop. And the Real MPG test showed the front-drive CX-9 scored worse than the AWD version.

Even so, the CX-9 leads its class and is a worthy successor to the well-liked first-generation model.

2017 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contenders:

2016 Mazda CX-9 (Signature) 2016 Mazda CX-9 (Touring)
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4 alum block/head Turbocharged I-4 alum block/head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 151.8 cu in/2,488 cc 151.8 cu in/2,488 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1 10.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 227 hp @ 5,000 rpm* 227 hp @ 5,000 rpm*
TORQUE (SAE NET) 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
REDLINE 6,300 rpm 6,300 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 19.0 lb/hp 18.1 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.41:1/2.65:1 4.41:1/2.65:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 17.6:1 17.6:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.1 3.1
BRAKES, F; R 12.6-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc, ABS 12.6-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 8.5 x 20 in cast aluminum 8.0 x 18-in cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R 255/50R20 104V (M+S) Falken Ziex CT50 A/S 255/60R18 107H (M+S) Yokohama Geolandar H/T
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 115.3 in 115.3 in
TRACK, F/R 65.3/65.2 in 65.3/65.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 199.4 x 77.2 x 67.6 in 199.4 x 77.2 x 67.6 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.8 in 8.8 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 17.5/18.0 deg 17.5/18.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 38.8 ft 38.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 4,317 lb 4,112 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 55/45% 56/44%
TOWING CAPACITY 3,500 lb 3,500 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 7 7
HEADROOM, F/M/R 39.3/38.5/35.4 in 39.3/38.5/35.4 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 41.0/39.4/29.7 in 41.0/39.4/29.7 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 57.9/58.1/53.1 in 57.9/58.1/53.1 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/M/R 71.2/38.2/14.4 cu ft 71.2/38.2/14.4 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.3 sec 2.7 sec
0-40 3.6 3.8
0-50 5.2 5.3
0-60 7.4 7.5
0-70 9.9 10.1
0-80 13.5 13.4
0-90 17.3 16.9
0-100 21.9 21.2
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.2 4.2
QUARTER MILE 15.7 sec @ 86.1 mph 15.9 sec @ 87.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 123 ft 130 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.82 g (avg) 0.79 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) 27.6 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,000 rpm 1,900 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $44,915 $36,870
PRICE AS TESTED $45,215 $38,915
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 19.5 gal 19.0 gal
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.7/25.8/21.3 mpg 18.0/25.0/20.6 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 21/27/23 mpg 22/28/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles 153/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.83 lb/mile 0.80 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Unleaded regular
* 250 hp with 93 octane fuel