As much as we’d all love to have a Miata for our daily driver, grown-up lives come with grown-up responsibilities–and the 2020 Mazda CX-9 SUV is a great compromise. The Mazda CX-9 SUV’s agile handling and powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine make it a lightweight sports car that can haul the kids around or take home groceries. The sleek exterior design wraps around a interior that would be at home in a luxury vehicle. Mazda also offers many tech features that SUV buyers love. Standard features include a suite of driver assistance features, while a dash-top information display gives you access to media, maps and other useful information. The CX-9 is a compact vehicle with limited cargo space and one of the smallest third rows. The CX-9 was removed from the pedestal it had been placed on by the Kia Telluride, and the Hyundai Palisade.
What’s new for 2020?
Mazda has upgraded the CX-9 with several driver-assistance features, including i-Activsense. This bundle includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control. Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance are also included. Heated front seats now come standard with power adjustments for drivers, rain-sensing windshield washers, automatic headlamps, heated exterior mirrors, and auto headlamps. Signature, Grand Touring and Touring models now have a 9.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, new key-fob designs, and power-adjustable seats in the second row. The Touring Premium package now includes second-row captain’s seats. This feature is standard on both the Signature and Grand Touring trims. Grand Touring models come with heated captains chairs and a power liftgate. Signature trim, the top-of-the line trim, adds a center console to the standard second row captain’s chairs. It also gains two new upholstery colors, Deep Chestnut and Pavment. Both are made of nappa leather.
Pricing and Which One To Buy
We recommend the Touring trim if you don’t mind the heated second row seats. The new 9.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability is just one of the many niceties. The Touring Premium package adds two USB ports to the third row and the new CX-9 second-row captain’s chair, which many buyers of three-row SUVs want. It costs $2100 more and includes a Bose sound system, SiriusXM satellite Radio, fog lamps and front and rear parking sensors.
Engine, Transmission, & Performance
Mazda offered a turbocharged four cylinder engine as the CX-9’s sole powertrain, in an industry where V-6 power is common. This was in the hopes of improving fuel economy. It sounds powerful and achieved impressive acceleration results, taking our Grand Touring test car from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds. The 2020 CX-9 is the family hauler for driving enthusiasts. It is surprisingly light and feels like you are driving a smaller SUV. Although the suspension is stiff, it’s comfortable enough to ride over bumpy roads. Although the CX-9’s steering is not as responsive as other Mazdas it still gives off a level of vigor that isn’t present in other crossovers. Superior cornering control is achieved thanks to the firm suspension and precise steering.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
The CX-9’s solid acceleration performance is not the only thing that makes it more efficient than its competitors. 2020 models were able to achieve 22 mpg in cities and 28 mpg highway. Front-wheel drive is better than all-wheel drive, which drops both those numbers by 2 mpg. The all-wheel-drive CX-9 achieved 26 mpg in our highway fuel-economy tests.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
Although the CX-9’s interior is stunning with its upscale materials, detailed styling, and plenty of cargo and passenger space, it is smaller than other SUVs in this segment. The CX-9’s interior is elegant and would look right at home in an Audi. Mazda has carefully arranged soft-touch plastic in a beautiful graining and brushed aluminum. In our Signature-trim test vehicle, real rosewood was used. The dashboard is elegant and has a 7.0-inch or 8.0-inch touchscreen that protrudes from the top. Real-world limitations are the CX-9’s smaller dimensions. Two of our carry-on bags were able to be fit behind the Mazda’s third-row, which is only one-third the Ford Explorer’s capacity. The CX-9’s second- and third rows of seats can be folded easily to make configuration changes quickly. However, the load floor is flat so it is easy to load heavy items. The CX-9 was able to accommodate 25 carry-on bags with the second- and third row seats down.
Infotainment & Connectivity
Mazda’s intuitive infotainment system is standard on all CX-9s. The screen size for Sport models is 7.0 inches, while Signature, Grand Touring and Touring models get the 8.0 inch unit. You can control the system via the touchscreen, the rotary knob or redundant buttons located on the center console next to the shifter. It also responds well to voice commands. The software is simple to use and the graphics look great, especially on the larger screen. Standard features include Bluetooth phone, streaming audio, HD radio and onboard internet radio apps like Pandora, Stitcher and Aha.