When I was young my father owned a 1992 Mazda Protégé, and I can still recall times when he would take my brother and I out in it. So when I found out I would be driving the 2014 Mazda CX-9 GT for a week, it brought back good times of the Mazda days. But could it live up to the great memories of the Protégé? I was handed the keys to a Crystal White Pearl CX-9 for the week to find out.
The styling of the CX-9 is nothing new, but from a first look the large crossover seems to be pretty aerodynamic and modern without looking like a box on wheels. From the outside, you would automatically assume it had a third row of seats because of the length. The CX-9 can indeed seat seven, and when the third row is folded down, there is more than ample amount of space to put all of your goodies in the trunk. That was a treat for me when, for once, I was able to fit my hockey equipment in the back without any hassle.
When I first got into the CX-9, I was surprisingly shocked at how much space there was in the cabin area. Some crossovers are a little compact width-wise, but I have a hard time believing that a majority of people would have any issue with space while driving this “monster” Mazda. One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about the CX-9 was the placement of the infotainment system. It was well-positioned high enough up on the centre stack that it was extremely easy to play around with and change settings without being distracted from the road. For people not familiar with any vehicle, it can sometimes be difficult to find out where knobs and buttons are especially in the dark. Luckily, all of the bells and whistles were lit up as soon as you got in and started the beast, everything was exactly where you would expect it to be.
Fuel economy is such a huge factor in decisions when people look to buy a car. When I had the CX-9 GT AWD for the week, I had a combination of city and highway mileage. It is rated at 12.8L/100km for city driving and 9.0L/100km for highway driving. Combined city and highway, I averaged a not-exactly-frugal 15.4L/100km. I’ve seen a lot worse, and for a three-row SUV, this isn’t as bad as it could get. Plus, the CX-9 does take regular-grade fuel and it’s important to mention that my commute is primarily city. I could see these numbers improving significantly with a healthy mix of highway driving added in.
With a price tag of about $49,000 as-tested, my Mazda CX-9 was well equipped with features. The blind spot monitoring system was exceptional, and I liked having it, especially because of how large the vehicle really is. The CX-9 had a thick rubber cargo mat (a Mazda dealer-installed accessory) covering the third row of seats and made it very easy to wipe down instead of grabbing a vacuum in case a mess were to happen. The car also had the power liftgate feature, which is very handy if you are carrying a bunch of things. With just a press of a button on the remote or the liftgate itself, the back will open for you. Navigation is huge now for drivers. Years ago, people would just buy GPS devices and plant them on their windshield or dashboards, but navigation systems are now a pretty standard accessory across the board, especially at this price point.. Mazda paired up with TomTom, a king of navigation, so the system is pretty flawless and works very well. I can’t wait for the implementation of the system out of the new Mazda3 across the Mazda line; that system is miles better.
Driving the CX-9 was a breeze because the 273 horsepower 3.7L V6 powerhouse really moved the big vehicle along without any issues. The acceleration was strong and I never felt as though I needed more power from it. Aside from the specs and features, actually being behind the wheel makes up for any downside one could find with the CX-9. The handling was decent for a vehicle in the large crossover category and the seats made long hauls seem pleasant, even if stuck in gridlock on a beautiful summer day.
Larger vehicles and SUV’s are generally targeted for families – the CX-9 is not lacking any space or practicality and would be a good choice for a family that wants to steer away from the image of a minivan. The driving dynamics of the CX-9 still allow owners to have the feel of driving a smaller car because of the handling and acceleration. Obviously buyers may not agree with the price tag of nearly $50,000 but there are very few vehicles in the class that offer this amount of space with such a good balance of driving pleasure.
I enjoyed my week with the 2014 Mazda CX-9. I like spending time with SUVs because I can haul people and stuff while still geting pleasure out of actually driving the machine. I went out with my father, who absolutely loved his Protégé, and he adored the CX-9. He no longer owns a Mazda, but was thoroughly interested in what the beast had to offer – the perfect target buyer for this SUV.
2014 Mazda CX-9 GT Gallery