Mazda CX-9 Touring 2019 Wagon Review
As any parent will tell you, sometimes your kids need a (metaphorical) kick in the pants and sometimes just a gentle nudge.
The same is true for cars, sometimes mid-life facelift can turn a dud into a star, whilst other times they only need a minor tweak here and there.
Release late in 2018 the updates for this year include revisions to the suspension and steering for an improved driving experience and a more standard equipment across the range.
Is the Mazda CX-9 Touring right for me?
The rise and rise of seven-seat SUVs in recent years is driven largely by the flexibility they offer families. They aren’t designed for big families that constantly need all seven seats and luggage space, but they do give those with a couple of kids the option to take friends or grandparents when needed.
What does the Mazda CX-9 Touring cost?
We’re testing the Touring trim, which sits one level up from the Sport, now starting from $52,460 plus on-road costs. That’s a $2170 price increase on the pre-facelifted model, a a significant $3750 bump from when the CX-9 originally launched back in 2016.
However, the price increase is justified by a boost in standard equipment beyond the mechanical changes, including a number of active safety features.
What is the Mazda CX-9 Touring's interior like?
Mazda has managed to successfully blur the line between mainstream and premium with its entire range, and nowhere is that more evident than inside the cabin. There’s a level of quality that elevates the CX-9, even in this mid-range Touring grade, above many of its peers.
The fit and finish is excellent and there’s a nice blend of good quality materials, such as the leather upholstery and brightwork on the dashboard.
The CX-9 was already one of Mazda’s quietest models but for 2019 it has even thicker headlining to further reduce noise penetrating the cabin. Another seemingly minor but notable change for this latest update, because it speaks to Mazda’s attention-to-detail, is increased padding on the centre console armrest for improved comfort. It’s those minor tweaks that make the CX-9 feel a bit special inside.
How much space does the Mazda CX-9 Touring Wagon have?
Space is one of the biggest selling points of the CX-9, with enough room to accomodate a large family in relative comfort. As mentioned earlier, if you plan on using all seven-seats all the time you may want to consider a people mover but for families looking for regular transport of five or more people the CX-9 will suit.
The front seats are soft and comfortable, there’s good room in the second row and even those in the third row get adequate headroom and knee space for a seven-seat SUV. Being a passenger in the CX-9 is no hardship as those in the middle row get their own air-conditioning controls as well as a pair of USB charging ports hidden neatly inside the centre armrest - which also includes a pair of cup-holders and a shallow lidded storage box.
The boot is a generous 810-litres with the third row stowed, and drops to a still practical 230-litres with all chairs in use.
What's the Mazda CX-9 Touring's tech like?
A big ticket addition for this latest update is the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the existing infotainment system. It’s a good move not only because smartphone integration is increasingly popular, but it helps update the disappointing MZD Connect system.
The in-house Mazda system is one of the biggest criticisms of the car, being difficult to navigate at times (despite having both touchscreen and rotary dial interfaces) and slow to respond.
While it doesn’t take too long to learn your way to navigate the various menus, the smartphone options are far more intuitive, but you’ll need to be patient to allow the system to catch up to you.
How reliable is the Mazda CX-9 Touring?
A big part of Mazda’s success over the last decade, climbing to the second best-selling brand in the country, is down to its reputation for reliability and dependability.
How safe is the Mazda CX-9 Touring?
Improving safety was one of the main areas of focus for Mazda. As such the CX-9 now gets an array of active safety features including high-speed autonomous emergency braking (in addition to low-speed AEB that was previously included), traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
What is the Mazda CX-9 Touring's warranty like?
Mazda was a bit slower than some but eventually joined the ranks of the five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty club in 2018.
What are the on-going costs of the Mazda CX-9 Touring Wagon?
The CX-9 is covered by Mazda’s five-year capped price servicing plan that requires visits every 12-months/10,000km. Services are capped at $382 for a major tune-up and $339 for a minor, so over the course of the first five years you should be spending $2054.
Is the 2019 Mazda CX-9 Touring value for money?
While the price has crept up since launch the extra equipment offsets that. Coupled with the quality of the CX-9 it’s hard to argue it’s not a good value proposition. There are cheaper options out there but few with the space, presentation and driving character to match the CX-9.
What's under the Mazda CX-9 Touring's bonnet?
Mazda didn’t make any changes to the 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is no bad thing. This engine was developed primarily with the diesel-hating American market in mind, so Mazda had to work out a way of making a petrol engine efficient and give diesel-like performance to a full-size SUV.
The result is excellent, with lots of pulling power from low down in the rev range - peak torque of 420Nm arrives at just 2000rpm - and a smooth linear response until you really rev it out above 5000rpm.
It may look small on paper (and Mazda Australia offers the Japanese focused CX-8 as a diesel-powered seven-seat alternative) but the CX-9’s engine does a great job of motivating an SUV tipping the scales at 1878kg. In fact, one of the problems of the engine is it can overwhelm traction in the front-wheel drive model resulting in occasional outbursts of torque-steer (when the steering wheel feels like it is tugging out of your hands).
It’s ably assisted by a six-speed automatic transmission, that may not be as modern or hi-tech as some bigger rival ‘boxes but does a good job just shifting smoothly in the background.
How mcuh fuel does the Mazda CX-9 Touring Wagon use?
Fuel use is rated at 8.4-litres per 100km for the front-wheel drive CX-9, compared to 8.8L/100km for the all-wheel drive variant. Our history with Mazda suggests that number is realistic in the real-world but around town you’re more likely to see low double-digit returns.
What's it like to drive the Mazda CX-9 Touring?
While the engineers didn’t fiddle with the engine, they did tinker with the chassis making changes to the suspension and steering to try and improve the ride and handling of the big SUV.
They didn’t need to do too much because the CX-9 was already one of the best seven-seat SUVs to drive, with sure-footed and responsive handling.
The changes to the suspension, specifically the recalibrated dampers, do help smooth out some of the old model’s occasionally uneven ride. The tendency to crash over big bumps has been reduced, instead the CX-9 is able to better absorb the jolts and isolate the cabin more.
The revised steering is also a subtle improvement, making the big SUV feel smaller and more responsive than something so sizeable should.
How does the 2019 Mazda CX-9 Touring compare to the competition?
If you like the CX-9 but prefer a diesel then the Mazda CX-8 is the most obvious option. It’s doesn’t have quite the same amount of cabin space as the CX-9, because it’s based on a stretched version of the CX-5.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is our reigning Best Family SUV champion because it’s available with a more efficient diesel engine, has an even more stylish cabin and drives with polish.
The Kia Sorento shares much of its mechanical DNA with the Santa Fe but doesn’t quite impress as much as its South Korean cousin in terms of presentation.
The Toyota Kluger is a more popular choice on the sales charts, but isn’t as well presented of drive as well as the CX-9 in our opinion. While the Holden Acadia is more affordable but only available with a thirsty V6 petrol engine.
Mazda made small but important changes to the latest CX-9, taking a good SUV and making it better. It’s was already one of the quietest models offered by the Japanese brand but is now even more so. The same goes for the comfort of the interior, which has been further improved by making it more comfortable in subtle, sophisticated ways.
As for how it drives, it was already near the top of the seven-seat SUV field and the changes to the suspension and steering will ensure it stays there for the foreseeable future.
For those looking for a family-friendly seven-seater with style, comfort and a dynamic edge.
Stephen has been interested in cars as long as he can remember. Speed is in the blood as his great-grandfather was a motor racing pioneer in Australia, establishing several land speed and racing records. Based in Sydney, professionally he has been writing about everything on four-wheels since 2001…