By on June 24, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature front

I want you to sit down for this.

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature we’re driving this week costs $45,215.

Mazda USA’s $45,215 sticker includes the destination fee and $300 for Machine Grey Metallic.

Yes, that’s 34-percent more than the next-most-expensive Mazda.

No, there’s not a panoramic sunroof at this price point; no ventilated seats, either. On paper, the new CX-9 produces only 227 horsepower from its 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four when filled with regular fuel. Cargo space behind the third row? Negligible. Third row seating? Technically, yes, there is a third row for the headless and legless among us, like many of its rivals. The eight-inch Mazda Connect infotainment unit is intuitive but not the swiftest operator.

And other than that, the all-new second-generation Mazda CX-9 is pretty much, well … is perfect too strong a word?

Yes, perfect is too strong a word.

There are other niggling issues.

Accessing anchors for a child seat’s LATCH system is a pain. There’s an overlap where the Signature’s rosewood trim meets the underlying centre tunnel that will bother those with bony knees (and most of us do in fact have bones in our knees). Much as Mazda has dealt with our complaints in other Mazdas by silencing road and wind noise issues in the new CX-9, the quietness elsewhere serves to highlight the 2.5T, which — like so many modern turbocharged direct injection engines — doesn’t sound great at idle or low revs. The air conditioning strangely struggled, yea even failed, to keep up with 80-degree weather, as well, which is hardly the heights of summertime warmth on the Atlantic coast of Canada, let alone in Arizona. The HVAC’s difficulty was severe enough that it’s hard to believe that this could be an affliction common to all new CX-9s and not just a problem unique to our CX-9 test specimen, which met its very first representative of the media in me. But you see now why I was complaining about the lack of cooled/ventilated seats at the $45,215 price point? We’re melting up in here.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature interior

Now we’re underway, sufficiently wowed by the interior design and the quality of its materials, impressed that a Mazda’s interior is hushed, feeling like a million bucks because the CX-9 looks like a million bucks. I’m sure there are detractors, and I make no claims to being a fine arts graduate with design critique skills, but the 2016 CX-9 looks expensive, classy, sporty, handsome without ever appearing overwrought or contrived. My mother, who last noticed a car I was driving three summers ago when the noise of a Camaro ZL1 caused her great-grandfather to roll over in his grave, went weak in the knees for the CX-9. My father’s Outback loyalty was shaken after one bumper-to-bumper scan. I was waiting for take-out pizza and a delivery guy delayed his deliveries to do a long CX-9 walkaround and ask a bunch of questions. A pair of neighbors say this is the best-looking SUV that’s ever been in my driveway.

I digress.

But it’s hard not to digress. It’s difficult to not be swayed by the CX-9’s exterior panache even when you’re inside, because the CX-9 looks really good inside, too. Admittedly, this is the Signature trim, which adds Nappa leather, LED lighting inside and out, the narrow sunroof, and rosewood interior trim for an extra $2,045 over the all-wheel-drive CX-9 Grand Touring. Regardless of trim, the seats are terrific, the head-up display is no longer a comical flip-up screen, and buttons and switches and fabrics and textures are befitting of the price point.

Better yet, the Mazda CX-9 also drives better than other SUVs and crossovers at this price point. That doesn’t just mean it tackles corners at greater speed than its rivals, as is the case with the Mazda6, while suffering the compromises of class-leading athleticism. In addition to exceptional handling, the second-gen CX-9, even on 20-inch wheels, also rides sweetly. It’s firm, no doubt, but only to the extent that it’s planted, not perturbed. There are messages being sent to your backside the likes of which no Pilot or Highlander would ever deign to send, communication that enables you to be informed enough to make decisions about the potential for greater speed or the availability of more grip.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature rear

This is where we typically point out that consumers don’t want to pay the penalties for performance in family vehicles; a vehicle that can snap off upshifts, tolerate ham-fisted mid-corner inputs, and source torque (310 lbs-ft of diesel-esque twist) at all manner of rpms, won’t be a vehicle that appeals to conventional family car buyers. The consequent stiff ride, throttle sensitivity and heavy steering will make the non-enthusiast think refinement is lacking, that maturity is absent.

The new Mazda CX-9, however, delivers on both counts. It’s not that a flick of a switch causes another personality to miraculously appear, like turning the wick up in an Audi from Comfort to Dynamic. The CX-9 perpetually performs a balancing act.

It’s still a crossover, not a sedan. There’s more body roll in the first corner you attack than the CX-9’s initial responsiveness leads you to expect, but this is leagues away from the hefty GM Lambdas and the sometimes ponderous Pilot. Neither is braking, no surprise here, as immediate as in the 3,250-pound Mazda 6.

As for the 310 lbs-ft of torque, it’s nice to be in a Mazda that never feels underpowered. I’d be happier if the torque peaked just off idle at 1,500 rpm rather than 2,000. But it’s a stump-puller of a turbo four, this 2.5-liter. And with the CX-9’s 4,226-pound curb weight, 250 horsepower (on premium fuel) shouldn’t be considered an offputting figure.

Fuel economy over the course of an unusually high-mileage week of mostly urban driving rang in at 23 miles per gallon, equal to the EPA’s combined rating. That’s with a green engine that’s never before felt the soft and sometimes firm prods of an auto journo’s right foot.

The high-mileage quotient tells part of the story. I needed two special screws for a bathroom light installation late last night. Of course it couldn’t wait until tomorrow. (It could have.) Of course I was going to take the CX-9. (Not our Odyssey.) Of course my wife would be driving past the hardware store this morning. Of course I could probably find a couple of workable items if I scoured the basement for more than 60 seconds. But I wanted to go for a drive.

Strangely, that didn’t happen a couple of months ago when the Toyota Highlander Hybrid visited GCBC Towers. No pointless late night runs occurred in the 2016 Kia Sorento SX Turbo. This kind of behaviour results from Mazda doing what Mazda does best and — MX-5 aside — Mazda is at its best with the new CX-9.

In case you were wondering, the screws cost $0.95 each. I could buy 47,595 of these for the price of one Mazda CX-9 Signature.

[Image Source: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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118 Comments on “We’re Driving A 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature, Which Is Very Expensive, And Very Good...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’ll say that the design is quite gorgeous. It’s like an X5 or Q7 for considerably less money.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    Good looking thing that seems to drive well. I hope it’s good enough to get some sales for Mazda. The soccer moms in my old neighborhoods had a CX-9 trend before they all got MDXs and Highlanders. I wonder if they’ll go back.

    Could be a better buy than a used Pilot in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I’d take the Honda V6 over the Mazda T4 in a few years.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        The problem for my pocketbook is that your opinion is popular and used Pilots reflect that.

        Yeah, I love the J35. My brother ran his Ridgeline on low oil for 5000 miles (and he drives rough) and that was 40k miles ago. The truck is running great. Yeah, the J35 has a well-deserved reputation as a very good engine.

        And yeah, the Mazda turbo 4 is unknown but I’d take a bet on it for that interior, NVH, and road manners.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Meh. The tacked on screen look kills it for me. (personal opinion of course)

          That said I wouldnt buy a single new Honda with the utterly craptastic allm/mostly touch center stack.

          • 0 avatar
            Willyam

            Agreed. It’s not awful here in a big SUV, but on the MX-5 it’s completely bizarre. Up there with the center-screen in the old Cooper as retro-style-killing.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This. Big Mazda + tiny engine + general Mazda longevity, and this price has me running to the more founded competition.

        And quite literally 98% of moms don’t want something hard riding.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          I have owned Mazda’s since 2001. Had a Protégé` 5, Mazdaspeed6 and the newest generation 6. I have put a daily beating on every one of those cars that very few car ever see. I like to have a little too much fun, but always try not to kill anyone in the process. The turbo Speed6 in particular was abused hard, 5 sets of tires in 90k ish miles. Oil changes…..that’s the extent of my maintenance on every one of these cars. Everyone has their anecdotes to espouse, I suppose mine deserves no more credence than yours. My point is, why worry about a few thousand dollars over a car’s lifetime when you have the option to buy something beautiful, something that creates an emotional response, something you make a special trip just so you can drive. You guys with your crystal balls pulling out prospective repair bills and resale always make me laugh. My wife’s 2012 Odyssey was the least enjoyable and least reliable new car I have ever owned. Thank god it was a lease.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Well most minivans arent “enjoyable” in the sense of driving involvement (ditto SUVs), what did your Odyssey hsve go wrong?

            Ive had bad kuck with Hondas myself, but I understand for others theyve worked out very well.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            The problem with the Odyssey was the cylinder deactivation system. Kept misfiring, not working properly. Made for a jerky and underpowered ride at times. Could not get it to consistently work. Of course Honda would not even cover inspection under warranty because they considered it a spark plug problem which is a wear item. So I had to pay out of pocket and it continued to happen after attempted fix, could not be duplicated when I needed, was awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Its interesting that Honda would copy an ancient gas mileage trick from GMs Malaise era, and still have issues!

          • 0 avatar
            stevelovescars

            Good point. Nobody makes the argument about long-term cost of ownership when we talk about luxury cars like Porsche, Mercedes, or BMW. My Mazda ownership experiences were joys compared to my 5-series BMW. That thing was in the shop all the time (within the first 30k miles) and maintenance costs were through the roof. Heck, buy a new 911 and your depreciation over the first two years will pay cash for a new CX-9. It’s all relative, I know… if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. But with these mid-level cars so darned good, I wonder why anyone buys a “luxury” make.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Lipstick on a pig.

    Lack of cold air conditioning is a deal killer in most areas of the country. Who wants to ride around in a pretty $45,000 sweatbox?

    Acura MDX for the win. Honda products will kill this Mazda’s resale value.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      $45k, no cooled seats, wimpy air conditioning, and Timothy pronounces it near perfect. He clearly is not a menopausal woman.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Please. They might as well rename every Honda the frumpmobile 1, 2, 3, etc next to Mazda’s lineup. Maybe Hondas will return more on resale, I will concede that that will. I am glad I am not that cheap such that I put resale at the top of my must have’s list.

      My 2014 6’s AC will turn you into a popsicle at 50% blower in 90 degree weather. I would check out and test drive before I write off every CX-9. I once saw a brand new Honda with temp dealer plate on it and everything pulled over on the side of the road with its hood up. The owner must have been checking its resale value. See how silly generalizations are.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Glad somebody is willing to buy the 6. The discounts must be huge.

        The recent Car.com mid-size class test placed the improved 6 near the bottom of the class just above the bottom dwelling Altima. The 6 is noisy w/ a crude sounding engine. Uncanny that the IMPROVED 6 is the noisiest in the test by far.

        It’s hard to imagine how bad the even noisier 2014 6 is.

        And yes, the Acura MDX will eat the CX-9 alive.

  • avatar
    Macca

    The new CX-9 is at the top of our list for our next family hauler. The overall design looks fantastic to me and the prospect of a decently quiet interior in a Mazda seems too good to be true.

    I am a bit concerned about the wimpy air conditioning, though. It wouldn’t be the first Mazda to exhibit that issue.

    As an aside, HVAC will be playing a decently large role in our decision making for our next family vehicle. We’ve realized that ceiling-mounted vents are typically the best for middle/rear seat children – especially children in a rear-facing fortress/sweat box child seat – but they’re hard to come by. It doesn’t have to be terribly hot outside for a child to get uncomfortably hot in such an enclosed, isolated space.

    In our 2nd-gen Rogue, we’ve resorted to using a product that is nothing more than an accordion hose covered in fabric that connects to the rear console vent – allowing you to route air in closer to your child’s seat. Two puny vents on the back of the center console with no independent speed/temp controls just don’t cut it. Sure, you can always keep the vent speed dialed up to 11, but there goes listening to music or a quiet conversation.

    Also thought I’d mention that I really enjoy Timothy’s writing – seems like his personal style has come through stronger on recent pieces. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    It would be hard to turn down the roughly 100 each of horsepower and torque by choosing the Explorer Sport over this at the same price point.

    As far as looks go, I’d put this as a tie for first with the 2016 Explorer. The Santa Fe would be second, and everything else in the segment is pretty damn ugly so I’d call it a tie for last place rather than grace any of the competitors with “third”.

    Unfortunate about the A/C. May have been a dud model.

    The A/C in the CX5 is supposed to be exceptional.

    • 0 avatar
      mazdaman007

      Mazda has most definitely sucked for A/C systems in the past. My current 2015 3 however is the best A/C I’ve ever had and the automatic climate control is stunningly good. I’ve driven it since early March (Canada) and haven’t adjusted the temp more than 1 degree Celsius. In that time the ambient temperature has varied from -20C to +35C.

      Sounds like a dud to me. I can’t see an SUV designed primarily for the North American market having a weak A/C system.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        A few Protégés I checked out weren’t half bad AC wise, of course rust and ecu issues kept turning me away (rust on the actual cars in person).

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You must be lying. Mazdas do not rust and have not had rust issues in generations.

          /s

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            You’re right Mazdas rarely did rust! And we all know their transmission issues were sabotage by Ford!

            Those with rust? Obviously the drivers off road their Mazdas regularly, jump curbs, and go to the dealer for work too often!

      • 0 avatar
        RWD_by_the_Sea

        Agreed. My wife’s 05 Mazda3 had abysmal cooling from the AC, but her ’15 CX-5 HVAC has been nothing short of phenomenal.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Our old 2007 MX-5 also had weak A/C.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      If you don’t need the 3rd row, the Ford Edge Sport will run rings around this CX-9 all day long, and look better doing it. Plus you get a pano roof and cooled seats included for the price. I’ll take mine with meaty 265 width tires please.

    • 0 avatar

      My 2007 3’s weak AC is my only consistent complaint about it. And it’s annoying, given that I’m here in Atlanta, where it’s ninety in the shade most days in summer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t know. $45k is Durango R/T AWD, Flex Ecoboost, or MDX SH-AWD money.

    Granted I haven’t driven the new CX-9, but it would need to way outperform its spec sheet and expectations to win my heart at press car price points.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I was just driving a niece’s ’15 Fit around earlier in the week while it was in the ’90s here. It’s A/C like to freeze me out of it.

    Tim’s tester *must* have some unit-specific problem.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I saw one of these a week ago on the road and it looks very upscale in person, similar to a fully loaded Volvo XC90. I think it would be a home run with a more powerful engine but how many women care about horsepower if the power is adequate? I know my wife doesn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Ain’t that the truth. A co-worker at an old job was showing off her new GS350 and trying to show us how powerful the engine was.

      She never kept on the gas long enough for the car to crack-off a redline shift. “This thing has some guts, huh Yamahog?” as the engine did a 2.5k to 4k rpm pull. For those of you who haven’t driven any Toyota motors, they wake up at about 4k. But to her, it was gutsy enough.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        It’s not just women. In the little more than two years I’ve had my current car, I’ve had the throttle to the floor exactly once, and that was just to see what would happen. The most acceleration I can use is during a highway merge, and half pedal is plenty for that, this in a car that does 0-60 in 8 seconds.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I saw one of these in the metal- they indeed do look pretty good.

    Still hoping they bridge the gap between the CX-5 and this… 2 row crossover with the 2.5T pretty please. Give it a sliding rear seat so my 5′ 11″ wife can sit in front of a rear facing child seat and be comfortable.

    CX-9 plus as yet non existent CX-7 could be Mazda’s real tickets to volume, like the MDX for Acura. Good design goes so far in these days of derivative and ugly mainstreamers.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Wife’s new Golf Sport Wagon has sub par AC as well. Too bad the test drives didn’t happen on hot days.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s weird. My GSW has the auto climate control and it ices me out within a couple of minutes. It’s more than potent in hot Oklahoma.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        We totaly copy you. I think you had the Sonata before we got one too. Ours is manual AC, maybe it is different. Also we are in DC area, maybe the humidity hurts it. Thinking of getting the screens for the back or maybe tinting windows. She has only had it a couole of weeks.

        • 0 avatar
          tekdemon

          I do suspect that VW puts a better AC system in the higher trim lines with the automatic climate control because the Passat TDI SEL I have has a crazy powerful AC. It’s been 99 degrees here and super humid and getting in the car and hitting Max AC cools it down almost instantly. It’s honestly pretty surprising how much better it is than the (admittedly quite old) AC in my Camry and it’s even faster than the AC in my Cayman S which really surprised me.
          I was thinking about getting one of the new Passat SE’s after the diesel buyback happens but my guess is the regular AC system isn’t anywhere near as good.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In the FWIW department, 99% of drivers who buy crossovers don’t want a “performance” vehicle.

    Power? Yes.

    A “sporty” vehicle that is rougher-riding than the competition? No.

    An expensive vehicle that perhaps rusts quicker than the competition? No.

    I still have bones in my knees, too…

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      It just ain’t gonna do no good to tell boyz that.

      Fortunately, we outnumber them.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      “Sporty” only refers to looks for the buyers who want one of these.

      On another note, I think the rust paranoia is unfounded at this point – I’m going on year 6 in a Mazda 3 in the DC region with no garage. While it’s not New England or Midwest levels, we do get a decent amount of road salt here. I have yet to see the beginnings of any rust on it at this point, and I do my own work so I’m under it a couple times a year.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Rust thing is overblown, and being that this is a budget alternative to something like an X5, given that it rides “firm” but “sweetly” I’d say they struck the right balance. Hyperbole much?

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “this is a budget alternative to something like an X5”

        Mazda should put that in their ads for this. And they’re so inept at marketing they just might.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Tricky proposition. I remember how GM was laughed at when they tried to do the same with the Pontiac 6000 STE. Mazda isn’t going to win over BMW buyers with leg room and fuel economy.

          Someone I know just bought a Pilot. It was between that and the Highlander I think. I can’t think of any way I could have convinced him to buy this, even though it costs the same money and is a way nicer ride IMO. I don’t think it would be any easier for Mazda’s marketing arm. You either consider Mazdas or you don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “99% of drivers who buy crossovers don’t want a “performance” vehicle.”

      There’s no way my wife is a 1%er so I’m not sure your numbers are correct. We leased her a 328i some time ago, then a Volvo XC90 and now an X5. She’s told me she misses her 3 a lot, but that the X5 is the best ‘car’ she’s owned. I hate the damn thing, but she absolutely loves it. Says it’s sporty like her 3.

      She’s not a car person, nor is she a badge snob, but she enjoys driving a fun vehicle. It’s not the acceleration she was after but steering and handling feel and braking.

      After the X5 has pissed me off enough, we’re definitely going to look at the Mazda.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    As a Mazda3 owner and a Santa Fe Limited owner my opinion is mixed on this. The old CX-9 was on our short list before we ended up in the Hyundai too.

    On one hand, I think the looks go a long way on this one, and the lower trims should move like gangbusters as a result. Very few people in this segment care about power, and given the torque from the 2.5T i think the low hp rating will be a non-issue for those who actually test drive it. On the same token,

    On the other hand, those option limitations, particularly the lack of cooled seats and the coin slot sunroof are going to be sales poison for the top trims. Nobody spending that kind of money on a crossover nowadays is going to want to give those options done. In particular, we use the cooled seats almost every time we’re in the car May-September. Our son is a big fan of the roof too, since he’s still in a rear-facing seat. Any mention of built in window sun-shades for the rear? Because that was a really nice-to-have feature that the Santa-Fe had considering our kid’s age. Not that it was anything that really swayed our decision.

    Finally, I’ll give the AC a pass. My Mazda3’s AC is great, so I’m willing to bet this is a one-off problem with that particular vehicle..

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    No cooled seats at that price point with the Signature package….that’s not smart….

    Hyundais and Kias have cooled seats available in their sub-compact $25k range. Subaru and Mazda need to offer ventilated seats once they cross the $30k line….

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      But HyuKias dont have Mazdas dynamic sporty suspension! Or Subarus…whats their gimmick?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Mazda has the essence of distinction and dynamic individuality built into each of their emotional supplementation mobiles.

        …Or whatever they say on their crap adverts.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I’d expect that from one of the many auto mags, Mazdas “thing” is handling fe9m what I know, but why would you want that in a family truckster?

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Symmetrical AWD of course, for those people that think it snows 365 days a year.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Many cars offer AWD for the paranoid, not “symmetrical” but still awd.

          Given how bland Subarus look I’d only buy one for a boxer engine, and only if the headgaskets had a warranty!

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Not much snow here in Houston (maybe a dusting every 5 years), but my Outback is sure-footed in our monsoon rains…much better than either our FWD or RWD vehicles.

          My point was that at the $30k+ price point, Subaru should have cooled seats as should Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      The Signature has a really nice looking interior and exterior but yeah, the lack of ventilated seats is a big turnoff. They should at least offer them as an option. And the lack of height adjustment on the passenger seat at this pricepoint is pretty bizarre to me as well. They honestly need to go back and redo the seats for this car to have more adjustments and ventilation while keeping the price the same.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This is tbe anti family wagon with its weak AC and rough ride, perfect for decaying cities near you!

    Honesty I see more v Mazda 3s and 6s than thier phoney SUVs, its strange.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Hmm, ok, so the reviewer said, “In addition to exceptional handling, the second-gen CX-9, even on 20-inch wheels, also rides sweetly.”

      And your mind translated “rides sweetly” into “rough ride”?

      That’s a little bit weird.

      Next point: Why is the CX-5 or CX-9 a phoney SUV? What are real SUVs? RAV4s? CR-Vs? Please explain.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Forty five large for the base CX-9 Signature seems kinda high. It is a good looking vehicle but the price places it in competition with other vehicles that I think, at the end of the day, consumers would rather put in their garage.

    1. Lexus GX- 50k
    2. Infinit QX60- 43k
    3. Land Rover LR4- 50K
    4. Acura MDX- 44K
    5. Land Rover Disco Sport (with 3rd row option)-40k
    6. Acura MDX- 44k

    I’m sure a few will choose the Mazda. Looking at the above list, which doesn’t contain all its competitors, I can’t see it being more than just a few.

    If fuel economy is of utmost importance, get the Mazda. For most other things, I’d go somewhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Compared to those Acuras and even the Land Rovers, why would I pay “prestige luxury” pricing for a lowly Mazda?

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        Because the Acura ain’t all that luxurious. The NAV/infotainment is terrible, Acura leather feels like plastic (certainly NOTHING like good Nappa leather) and the “wood” in Acuras ain’t wood either. With Volvo now making world class interiors, Acuras are BY FAR the worst of any so called “premium” brands.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Maybe, but they have a badge that people want, people will put up with mediocre interiors “cuz Honda never have problem”.

          My only experience was with a 90’s era Acura RL, somehow it managed to feel like a step down to their Accord of that time. Its like the cheap extra “luxury” touches made it feel a bit worse.

          Couldnt tell you much about their modern offerings beyond the badge.

          • 0 avatar
            Davekaybsc

            The MDX will always be a big seller because people feel like they are getting something “just as good” as a Q7 or XC90 at a big discount. As soon as you actually touch anything though, it becomes obvious where Honda saved the money.

            In the ’90s, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti interiors were all basically the same. Nasty leather, cheap feeling plastics, and a general complete lack of style or any real design. Lexus and to a lesser extent Infiniti have moved on. The new C-class has moved the game forward so much that everyone was left in its wake, but the ES/IS and Q50 at least are not completely embarrassed by a 3 series or A4.

            Acura on the other hand hasn’t moved on really at all. The leather is still nasty, the plastics are still cheap, the aluminum and wood bits are still fake, and the “ELS” branded stereos are still no better than a high trim Honda, and that basically sums up Acura as a brand – the Japanese Lincoln that survives solely on SUV sales.

            Even Lincoln put real effort into the new Continental, particularly on the inside, so that it’s no longer a Taurus Plus the way the MKS was. No effort was put into the RLX whatsoever. For some reason Honda seems content to sell about 12 of them a year, and the car remains a forgettable also-ran which it has been ever since the name change from Legend.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “The MDX will always be a big seller because people feel like they are getting something “just as good” as a Q7 or XC90…”

            Really? That’s why the MDX is a big seller? Does the same apply to the RX? Was there nothing else you could think of as to why these two sell so well?

            I think most people know what they’re getting when they purchase a MDX and I don’t think people see it as a luxury analog of a Q7 or XC 90.

            They’re buying for other reasons. Durability, reliability, and a lower cost of ownership come to mind. (I believe VW Group has the highest warranty costs in the industry and while the XC is really nice, the drivetrain gives me pause.)

            I haven’t been in the new A4 but the 3 series, interior wise, is nothing special and never has been.

            Haven’t been in the ES but the IS and Q50 have nothing to be embarrassed about by the BMW or the Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Barring the Japanese entrants, no way are any of those as roomy or well equipped as the Mazda. And even in the Japanese entrants…. the Lexus gas mileage is positively adolescent at best. No different than getting a fully loaded Accord Touring vs a stripper 3 series.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        The Lexus is a body on frame SUV. It’s a bit different than the others but it’s in the same price range. I haven’t compared them but it would be interesting to compare features.

        Like I said, if gas mileage is the be all and end all get the Mazda. From what I’ve found, as car budgets increase, so does elasticity.

        I don’t know how roomy the CX-9 is. Haven’t been in it. Here’s the rub. Competitors need not be as roomy, just roomy enough.

        The Japanese brands traditionally give you more features for the money. So using a stripper 3 series as an analog for a base QX60, MDX, or GX is faulty.

        Comparing an Accord Touring with a base V6 TLX would be more accurate.

        Look at the Mazda 3 2.5 and compare it to a base GTI. Look at the Mazda 6 Grand Touring compared to an Accord EX-L V6.

        You’re talking like Mazda gives you a whole lot of features for significantly less money than the other guys. I don’t really find that to be true.

        And when it comes to powertrain, you usually get less. I’ll repeat. If fuel economy keeps you up at night. Get the Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Trim level accounts for a lot of that price though. This is a loaded model that you’re comparing to stripped base model luxury metal. At those prices basically all of those CUVs are going to be have no nav, no sunroof, no active safety, non-heated vinyl seats, and 2WD. Not really apples to apples.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Sure, it’s a loaded model but look at what it doesn’t come with. At 45K, there are a lot of players.

        The Infiniti starts at 43K. I haven’t compared them feature for feature but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were very close. In fact, the Infiniti, Lexus, or Acura just might offer more.

  • avatar
    e46 Touring

    I find the lack of a panoramic sunroof to be a plus. I frequently drive with the sunroof open. In my experience, the panoramic roofs create too much turbulence when open to be enjoyable. The top two trims have sunshades in the rear doors. Our 2008 CX-9 has not needed anything but routine maintenance in 105k miles. It also has excellent A/C, and we live in the Southwest. I will certainly be checking out the new model. If I have to drive one of these things, it may as well be the most dynamically competent one.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    ‘Good’ AC has been a relative rarity in my experience since Freon was banished, especially in big greenhouse vehicles most in need of it. You could freeze a side of beef in the 70’s american iron. Decent fresh air ventilation would help immensely, but CAFE.

    I’d argue that there is no such thing as a nice sounding big I4, and a turbo can only serve to mask the noise that it does make. 4A-GE’s they ain’t.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    That signature interior is gorgeous. It’s a Pagani without the kitsch. I hope these things depreciate, I don’t get new ones every week as a job perk so I’ll be buying used. This is test drive worthy though.

  • avatar
    RazorTM

    I’m surprised that you fount the air conditioner lacking. I just test drove a CX-9 Signature this week in 90+ degrees and very humid and I felt just fine in the air conditioning. I agree with the entirety of the rest of the article, though.

  • avatar
    readallover

    WAIT A MINUTE! Did you say it was quiet? After a quarter of a century Mazda FINALLY figured out road noise and NVH? And the 2.5 is turbocharged. When is the next Gen 6 due out?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    That’s a steep price especially with no cooled seats.

    I’d like to see Mazda do well because they are one of the only non-prestige automakers actively trying to cater to enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…they are one of the only non-prestige automakers actively trying to cater to enthusiasts.”

      That’s one way to look at it. As I peruse the Mazda line up I don’t see it as being particularly enthusiast oriented. Especially when compared with other makes.

      That’s why choice is good.

      Ford- GT, GT350, Focus RS/ST, Mustang, Raptor

      Chevy- Corvette, Camaro, SS

      Honda- Type R, Civic SI {I know there not here yet but they are coming)

      Dodge- Challenger, Charger, Viper

      Jeep- Wrangler, Jeep SRT-8

      Nissan- 370Z, GTR

      V.W.- Golf R, GTI, GLI

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Not a single family car among them except the 5-door variants of the Golf and Focus although now that there is a Fusion SPORT I’d add that in there.

        Oh and the SS, I’ve forgotten it just like all of GMs customers and dealers have.

        I was speaking more of how Mazda attempts to have each of their cars be engaging to drive regardless of whether it is the bottom trim or top trim edition.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          There not my idea of an enthusiast company. You feel different.

          Yes, the SS doesn’t sell well ( a bit of an understatement) but it’s more of an enthusiast car than almost everything in Mazda’s line up.

          So yeah, I guess you could say customers have forgotten about it. The same way they’ve forgotten about Mazda.

          I’ll reiterate. In my opinion, for a company that puts on a performance veil, Mazda is lacking in product for what I would want.

          I’m glad they deliver for you.

          Choice is good.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            You cannot compare the Chevy SS with the Mazda line up and say people have forgotten them both. Mazda sell >20,000 a month. The SS not quite!

            You may think it lacks performance (driving fast in a straight line it would seem) but many others like Dan and myself recognize that they are a true engineering focused company and have plenty of enthusiasts.

            I agree choice is good, although from you many comments on this thread you seem to want Mazda to go away – thereby limiting choice.

            I also don`t get why the author of this article was concerned about the 34% difference in price. He compares the most expensive CX9 (which starts at $32K and compares on price directly with the likes of the Highlander). You can get pretty much everything of the Signature starting at $40K, then add AWD if you want it for $1.5K. Very well priced. I see two disappointing things with it, limited third row headroom (leg and shoulder room are competitive) and the 60/40 spilt on the second row. I would have preferred a Volvo XC90 or Mazda CX5 set up of 40:20:40 split.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    The AC issues would definitely prevent me from owning another Mazda. I’ve owned CX-7 that i bought new back in 2010 for a little under 2 years. I bought it in December, unfortunately….. Living in Atlanta metro, the summers are brutal around here, and the AC could never keep up. Even if it was parked in the garage; it was just a matter of time before it became unbearable inside the car. And if you left it parked in the sun – forget it. I don’t know how it’s possible to screw up something so simple nowadays…

  • avatar
    chunkachange

    My wife and I drove this last week and she’s now vindicated in picking out the AC issue immediately. In auto it was deafening as it tried to keep up on a warm day. What’s the point of the sound insulation if the car is going to do that?

    It’s a pretty interior, but the visibility and use of space is terrible. We were comparing it to the XC90, hoping for all of the quality and less of the luxury, which we don’t need, at a more reasonable price but found the opposite. A luxurious mediocre car that we’re not giving a second thought.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The XC90 is more luxurious. I would hope so when the 7 seat AWD version starts north of $50K. The CX9 is very well designed and made with high quality materials. As with most models the base models make most financial sense. Just like a $70K XC90 would not be worth it.

  • avatar
    golftdi

    Every Mazda that I’ve been in has subpar A/C. I’ve owned two here in Arizona, a Protege and a 3, both could not keep me cool during the summer. I even took the 3 back to the dealer and the Service Advisor said the system was running properly, it’s just really hot here. My sister has a 2013 3 with Dark Ceramic tint and I cannot stand riding in that car during the summer. My 09 Jetta TDI had great A/C, as does my 12 Golf TDI. It’s been 115-120 here and I don’t even need to have the fan speed on the highest setting.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Every Mazda I have been in has had great A/C. I see that once they resolved the “noise” issue that some complained about then those people had to move onto something else to criticize. Just like they did a few years ago when the screen size and infotainment system were upgraded. Just no pleasing some people.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky

        The A/C in my current 2016 CX-5 Grand Touring works great. The A/C in my previously owned 2009 MX-5/Miata w/ the power hard top also worked great. Not sure if this is helpful info; but passing it along just in case.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I dunno about this vehicle. For less money you can purchase a Subaru 3.6R Limited (at $35k) with standard stuff that Mazda empties your wallet to add except that the Subaru doesn’t have the useless, space-stealing, penalty-box third-row seating. The Subaru is a little smaller package with better space utilization and more power for less money. To each Mazda fan-boi his own, I guess…

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Did you ever think that maybe people buy these because they want the third row seating? They’re not a viable alternative to a minivan, but those seats do work in a pinch to haul your kids and their friends around town or even on a road trip.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Bullnuke – really, the Outback is a two row vehicle. So obviously (except to you) not a competitor. The competitors to the CX9 are the Pilot, Highlander etc which are all the same cost or more.

  • avatar
    JCS1

    I picked up a 2016 Signature model on Saturday. It was nearly 90 degrees here yesterday and we had absolutely no issues with the A/C. In fact, I had it on a low fan speed as my family complained it was too cold in the cabin at a higher speed. Too early to provide an overall review, but so far we love it.

  • avatar
    Terry

    34+ year Mazda Shop Foreman/Master Tech…and MANY Mazdas in the family.
    My’99 Miata will freeze you out, as will my ’05 Tribute, as will the wife’s ’07 Mazda5, and our ’92 MPV. Not a single complaint from my parents with their Mazda3 and Protege5, or my 2 son’s multiple Mazdas.

    I periodically get A/C complaints from customer’s cars UNTIL I show them that you can use the “RECIRC” feature in the HVAC control. True–you should periodically use the “FRESH” setting to remove stale air from the cabin, but it’s much easier to cool air that’s already been cooled than trying to cool 100+ degree air.
    Many times in high-humidity situations on “FRESH” the condensation in the a/c evaporator can freeze into a solid block, the hot air goes around the the unit instead of through it, heat is not removed and blower output is reduced. With a pocket thermometer in the dash center vent, blower speed on low and input set to “Circ”, going down the road the target is 40 degrees F. Below that it can freeze up as you loose 10 degrees in the dash’s ductwork.
    Many customers are clueless how to get the most out of their HVAC systems. In winter these same people complain that their windows fog up–until I show them that “Fresh”, not “CIRC” is to be used in heater modes.

  • avatar

    Good one

  • avatar
    vvk

    I have never driven a Mazda I did not hate after reading glowing reviews of it in the press. Except, of course, for Miata, which is truly the best of the best. Having spent a week in a rental CX5, I was so glad to drive my Traverse from the airport. Invariably, Mazdas I have driven have been loud, rough, tinny cars that make it obvious when corners were cut to save money. The CX5 is no exception. It drives nicely enough and the steering and brakes don’t feel terrible. It is also roomier than I would expect and the cargo area is bigger than it looks from the outside. However, it just feels like an economy car. With AC on the engine struggles at low revs and the gearbox is very hesitant. It would be so much better with a six cylinder and a manual gearbox.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      ” It would be so much better with a six cylinder and a manual gearbox” – you mean like the CRV and RAV4. Oh that is right they don`t have those options either.

  • avatar
    redav

    I’ve heard others complain about the AC. The CX-7 had the same problem, and it certainly hurt sales. A bad AC is absolutely not acceptable.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Go back and revisit it in 3 years when everything starts to break just out of warranty. It is a Mazda and they simply do not last. At this price point, that will be another killer.


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