From crossovers to SUVs to minivans, there are so many options out there for a good family vehicle, so why not choose something that looks cool and is fun to drive? Meet the 2017 Mazda CX-9. A year after the launch of second-generation CX-9, this midsize three-row crossover carries over unchanged for the 2017 model year, which is good news for families looking for a large vehicle that will stand out in the carpool lane. Even more so with this range-topping 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD that I recently spent a full week with.
2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Exterior:
Hands down, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is the best-looking crossover in its segment, and it might only be rivaled by the Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Cayenne for best-looking crossovers on the market, period. You’re definitely not going to mistake the new CX-9 for a Hyundai Santa Fe or Chevrolet Traverse. Mazda designers have done an excellent job creating a brand image – called KODO, Soul of Motion – that doesn’t just look good on one model. These lines and proportions look good on everything from the smallest CX-3 to the largest CX-9.
It’s the face of the CX-9 that creates the most emotion on this crossover with a large, upright grille, swept front fenders and narrow LED headlights. There is a slight slope to the roof, but the raked D-pillars help to give the CX-9 a sporty profile. At the rear, the thin, LED taillights mimic the front-end design, and are connected with a tasteful chrome strip. Being the Signature model, this CX-9 wore the big 20-inch wheels and came painted in the dark Machine Gray Metallic hue – a $300 upcharge – but most of the exterior goodies (LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights) are all standard equipment across the CX-9 lineup.
2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Interior:
Like all other Mazda vehicles, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 comes in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels, but if you want to make some Lexus and Infiniti owners jealous, then check out the Signature trim level. This trim level brings a remarkable upscale cabin that includes Nappa leather seats, genuine aluminum and wood trim and an overall design that matches the beautiful exterior and sporty nature of the CX-9. One thing Mazda really missed on this Signature model was to offer a six-passenger model with middle-row captain’s chairs and an oversize center console.
What the CX-9 offers in style, though, comes up short in both space and “wow” features such as a panoramic roof or rear-seat entertainment. This seven-seater has the smallest cabin in this segment limiting the third row to kids or easy-going adults, but it does have welcomed technology including the Active Driving Display (Mazda speak for head-up display) and the simple-to-use Mazda Connect infotainment system.
The swept rear pillar and liftgate leave the CX-9 with just 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seats are in place, but this space opens up to 71.2 cubic feet when the rear seats are all folded flat. Most of the CX-9’s shortcomings are easily overlooked after seeing this CUV in person and driving it, but my biggest issue with this design was the liftgate that sits too low when open.
2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Powertrain:
All 2017 Mazda CX-9 crossovers are powered by the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with up to 250 horsepower (on premium gasoline; 227 hp on regular unleaded) and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a smooth and sporty six-speed automatic transmission, and the CX-9 Signature comes standard with Mazda’s i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive, which can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels for improved traction in wet conditions or reduced understeer in spirited driving. With this setup, the big CX-9 delivers great fuel economy with official EPA-rated estimates of 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway**.
The CX-9 has always been one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers on the market, and the new 2017 Mazda CX-9 helps create even more separation between this CUV and its rivals. The engine has lots of low-end torque for great off-the-line acceleration, and the steering and brakes make this 4,327-pound crossover drive much smaller than it actually is. As we’ve come to expect from Mazda in recent years, the new CX-9 is a great road-trip vehicle with a smooth, quiet ride.
2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Safety:
As expected, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature comes loaded with all the bells and whistles, including Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support and Smart City Brake Support. Thanks to these driver assist technologies, the new CX-9 received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but it has yet to be rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Overall:
The market for midsize crossovers and SUVs is booming right now, but the 2017 Mazda CX-9 stands at the top of the bunch thanks to its beautiful design, fuel-efficient powertrain and, of course, its refreshingly fun-to-drive “zoom-zoom” attitude. In fact, driving anything with three rows has never been this much fun… especially at this price.
You can get into a 2017 Mazda CX-9 for as little as $31,520* for the base Sport trim, but this fully loaded Signature AWD model starts at $44,315*. And with limited options, this CX-9 Signature AWD model came with an as-tested price of $45,655, which transformed the CX-9 into a luxury-rivaling family CUV.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mazda dealership and test drive the all-new 2017 Mazda CX-9 today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.