2018 Mazda CX-9 Review - Japanese Rock Star, With All That Entails

I suffered a nearly fatal narcissistic injury to the journosaur gland when I arrived at the Oakland airport last Friday night, only to find out that my press-loaner 2018 Mazda CX-9 was the Grand Touring model instead of the Signature.

Why does this matter? Well, as any self-respecting Mazda fanboy knows, the Signature has a center console made from rosewood provided by Fujigen, the famous Japanese guitar maker behind Pat Metheny’s infamous Roland GR-808, the bulk of Fender Japan production across the Eighties, and several different models of Electra six-strings. I happen to be an avid collector of Japanese guitars, with over one hundred and five Electras, Westones, and Grecos in my basement. I’m also semi-obsessed with Metheny’s Roland GR-808 sound, to the point that I’ve assembled some remarkably expensive hardware in order to precisely duplicate the tone found on tracks like “Are You Going With Me?”.

In other words, if ever there was a crossover capable of capturing my heart, it would be the CX-9 Signature. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how Mazda’s newly-refreshed version of its still-youthful three-row CUV handles a brief trip to California’s central coast.

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At Least Partially, One of the Mazda CX-9's Key Faults Is Fixed for 2018

It was a tidbit easy to skip over, a tacked-on phrase designed to illicit nary a response, a drip-drip-drip of information without the two latter drips. In Mazda’s press release announcing the addition of more safety equipment to the base Sport model of the 2018 Mazda CX-9, the company briefly made mention of a reconfigured passenger compartment.

“Among the highlights are more features at every price point,” Mazda says, “such as an improved second row for both greater comfort and easier third-row access and greater sound insulation in what is already one of the quietest vehicles in its class.”

An improved second row? Easier third row access? Of all the things the second-generation Mazda CX-9 required, those elements would certainly rank near the top of the list. But is this just a fanciful claim, or did Mazda actually make meaningful changes to the CX-9 less than a year and a half into its lifecycle?

We have answers.

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2018 Mazda CX-9 Gets More Expensive, With Reason, but Will Consumers Pay Up?

Mazda is increasing the base price of its CX-9 flagship by $610 for the 2018 model year.

With more standard safety kit, Mazda’s $32,460 2017 CX-9 (after delivery) now becomes the $33,070 2018 Mazda CX-9.

But can Mazda, which sells the CX-9 at a slower rate than essentially all of its competitors, operate at an even higher price point? The second-generation Mazda CX-9 was already priced at a premium: $775 more than Pilot, $835 more than Highlander, $1,210 more than Pathfinder, $1,370 more than Durango, $1,585 more than the 2018 Traverse.

Mazda doesn’t seem terribly bothered. The majority of CX-9s sold in America are already top-spec Grand Touring and Signature models, higher-margin vehicles that are helping Mazda slowly craft an image as a premium mainstream brand, buoyed along by Driver’s Choice commercials and, as we can see now, CX-9s with $33,070 base MSRPs.

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  • AZFelix This article does not appear to address non-functional exhaust tip segments attached to the muffler body. When stopped behind certain cars (especially at night), I have noticed that in some cars with dual tips projecting from a single muffler unit, one is fake. The functioning one is dark and sooty while the other has a clean and shiny inside with the solid back panel of the muffler being visible. I have seen this on a Camry and possibly an Accord and BMW if I recall correctly, and am certain these were all OEM exhausts. Feel free to chime in with other confirmed sightings. I also recall reading somewhere that Ford designed an exhaust system where the gasses were vented downwards through a hole proximal to the end of the tail pipe. This prevents discoloration of the metal and soot from building up on the exhaust tips. It was done to address complaints from owners.
  • Ajla Fair enough. He could have used more precision in his words.
  • ToolGuy I AM PLACING [sic] NICELY. There is NO NEED TO BAN ME. Personally I do lots of things which DON'T MAKE SENSE, sometimes to myself, often to others. WHO ELON MUSK ENDORSES is really kind of NONE OF MY BUSINESS. It is a FREE COUNTRY, in some ways, still. I wish I knew how to FORMAT MY COMMENT better. I USED TO KNOW HOW, maybe I am losing it slowly (lot of that going around, JUST SAYING).
  • Aja8888 I can't read those whole thread without throwing up....
  • ToolGuy Maybe I will GIVE IT A LISTEN. Probably when I'm MOWING THE LAWN. Probably with a BATTERY OPERATED MOWER. (There are also batteries IN MY HEADPHONES. And IN MY PHONE.) Does anyone remember how to make a NEW PARAGRAPH?