2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD Test Drive

“2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD”
The Patriarch of Mazda’s SUVs continues to evolve


The Mazda CX-9 made its world debut back in 2006, and Mazda, categorizes it as a midsize 7-passenger, 3-row crossover SUV. It is the top model of Mazda’s versatile SUV lineup, and regardless of what category one chooses to place it in, it is recognized as one of the best SUV / Crossover / Minivan / Station Wagons in its class.The Mazda CX-9 continues to evolve.

Mazda’s crossover category entries actually differ from the majority of their competitors — in that they display a level of styling that is not only distinctive, but purposeful as well. In terms of functionality and versatility, they’re not unlike many other crossover segment entries, with the real difference coming from their roots or DNA — beneath their appealing exterior skin, lies what the Mazda folks repeatedly refer to as the” soul of a sports car”. It is definitely appropriate to reference the CX-9 as a “Zoom-Zoom vehicle with More Room” inasmuch as it’s smaller stablemate, the CX-7 was tagged as featuring “Zoom-Zoom with Room”.


The CX-9 was engineered with Mazda’s “Soul of a Sports car” philosophy, combining a sporty driving spirit with SUV versatility and functionality. For 2020, the CX-9 continues with its high level of performance now delivered by a 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve SKYACTIV-G, four-cylinder engine with a Dynamic pressure turbo and direct coil-on-plug ignition. The horsepower rating is 250, or 227 at 5,000 rpm with 87 octane fuel. The torque is rated at 310 pound feet at 2,000 rpm. Power is geared to the driving wheels via Mazda’s SKYACTIV Eight-speed Sport mode automatic transmission, which allows for either totally automatic or manual gear changes to be made by the driver. Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds.


The design is futuristic, with the concept conveying a sense of dynamic movement, even when at a standstill. The profile exhibits an aggressively rising belt line, topped by a boldly curved roof structure. The tapered greenhouse of the CX-9 sports blacked-out “B” and “C” pillars that are outlined by a bright surround, offering the visual impression of a singular glass area. The front fenders are pronounced, and flank the sculpted hood, which holds court over the bold grille positioned just ahead of the highly sloped nose, with a chrome trim accenting the wide lower air inlet .The windshield is sharply raked as well, adding to the overall aerodynamic efficiency of the CX-9. The large, bright dual exhaust outlets hint suggestively at the vehicle’s performance capability.


The 2020 Mazda CX-9 stable consists of four trim levels: *Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. All models come standard in Front-Wheel drive, or with Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive available as an option with the exception of the Signature model, where AWD is standard. Whoa power is provided by four-wheel vented disc brakes with 4-sensor, 4-channel ABS, DSC, and EBD. The CX-9 comes standard with 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels or with optional 20-inch alloy wheels shod with performance tires. Starting price is $34,835.

The cabin continues to serve up a sporty feel; Switchgear and controls are well thought out for optimum user friendliness, with gauges ideally placed and legible. Storage capacity is plentiful, with the center console able to stash a compact laptop. Seating is provided for seven in multi-configurable three rows. Second row captain’s chairs are available on upper trim levels as is a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Technology highlights include: MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system with 7” or optional 8” color multi-function display with voice command, SMS text message audio delivery and replay, E911 automatic emergency notification and optional navigation system; Multi-function commander control; available windshield-projected Active Driving Display; Dynamic stability control and traction control system with standard trailer stability assist; and an Auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Key features of the CX-9 offered are: LED headlamps with auto off and auto height control; LED taillights; variable intermittent windshield wipers; three-zone automatic climate control air conditioning; second-row 60/40 seat with seat recline, center armrest with cup holders and optional USB inputs; third-row 50/50 split seats; heated driver/passenger door mirrors; a Power liftgate with adjustable height; available Nappa leather seats, rosewood and genuine aluminum interior materials; LED grille lighting accent (Signature); Heated front seats with three settings; Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System; and available BOSE® premium audio with 12 speakers.

Safety assets include: Roll Stability Control; Blind Spot Monitoring System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; optional Distance Recognition Support System; High Beam Control; Lane Keep Assist; Mazda Radar Cruise Control; Rear Backup Sensor, Smart City Brake Support; and Smart Brake Support.

Essentially, even though the CX-7 and CX-9 look very much alike, the CX-9 obviously delivers more — it is longer, taller and costs more.


My test 2020 Mazda CX-9 was a Signature model in the All-Wheel Drive configuration, with the exterior finished Soul Red Crystal metallic, and the interior done in Parchment Nappa leather, with Charcoal accents and Rosewood wood trim accents. The base price was set at $46,115, with the price as tested totaling $47,855. after factoring in the metallic exterior paint, cargo mat and Delivery, processing and Handling fee.


Despite its visual similarities, the Mazda CX-9 is not simply an extended, three row version of the CX-7 – it is actually based upon the modified underpinnings of Ford’s Edge, with some componentry borrowed from the Mazda6 as well. Handling attributes deliver a pleasingly agile feel, reflective of its “Zoom, Zoom” sports car heritage. Even the ride quality provides a firm enough damping quality to be ranked with many sports cars. In terms of overall, blistering “off-the-line” smoke ’em if ya got ’em tires — the CX-9 has a higher mission statement — it is intended for use as a stylish, roomy and comfortable transportation pod for a family and gear to support their life’s activities.


Given its attractiveness, value and equipment content, price point, power output and serviceability for both passengers and cargo, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 in Signature trim and AWD configuration remains as one of the top contenders in the midsize Crossover SUV arena, with several grades and equipment and feature choices offered to suit individual budgets, tastes and requirements. It represents the latest expression of KODO-Soul of Motion styling and design to date.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2020 Mazda CX9 Signature AWD

Base Price: $46,115.
Price as Tested: $47,855.

Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder with dynamic Pressure turbo and direct coil-on-plug ignition.

Horsepower (bhp): 250 @ 5,000 rpm (227 w/87 octane fuel)
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 320 @ 2,000 rpm (310 w/87 octane fuel)

Transmission: Six-speed SKYACTIV Drive automatic with Sport mode.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / i-ACTIV All Wheel Drive.

Suspension: Front –Independent MacPherson strut type / coil spring with stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link with stabilizer

Brakes: Power assisted, diagonal hydraulic four wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, EBD, DSC, Roll Stability Control and Traction Control.

Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia 255/50 R20 104V mounted on 5-“V”-spoke graphite painted alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 115.3 inches
Length Overall: 199.4 inches – w/o License Plate Holder.
Width: 77.5 inches – with wheel arch molding.
Height: 69.0 inches – with shark fin antenna.
Curb Weight: 4,054 lbs.
Turning Radius: 19.4 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 19.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 22 mpg city /26-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.35
0 – 60 mph: Not tested – 130 mph Top Speed

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