2016 Mazda CX-9 Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, November 18, 2015
- Stronger and lighter structure
- Longer wheelbase, but shorter length
- Three rows of seats, 7-passenger capacity
- Turbocharged, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine
- Front-wheel or all-wheel drive (FWD or AWD)
- Mazda Connect infotainment system
- New driver-assistance and active safety systems
- New top-of-the-line Signature trim level
- On sale in spring 2016
In car years, a decade is a lifetime. The Mazda CX-9 debuted for the 2007 model year, and now, for 2016, a completely redesigned model finally arrives, shown for the first time at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2016 Mazda CX-9 goes on sale in the spring of 2016.
Mazda wraps the new CX-9’s lighter and more rigid body structure in its now familiar “Soul of Motion” design language, and the 3-row, 7-passenger midsize crossover SUV looks like a bigger and roomier Mazda 6 station wagon. Mazda says the CX-9 has lost between 198 and 287 lbs., depending on the version and equipment.
A bold 5-point grille leads the charge, flanked by standard LED headlights. The CX-9’s hood is longer than the previous model’s, because the windshield is moved back by nearly 4 in. The wheelbase is longer, too, but the new CX-9’s overall length is actually a touch shorter than the model it replaces.
Standard equipment includes 18-in. aluminum wheels. A set of 20-in. wheels is available on higher trim levels. A new Mazda signature paint color debuts for the 2016 CX-9, called Machine Gray. Other paint colors will include Soul Red, Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Jet Black, Deep Crystal Blue, and Titanium Flash.
In describing the CX-9’s new interior, which is bathed in white LED accent and backlighting at night, Mazda says: “The focus was on authenticity; an experience rather than simply another commodity conveyance.”
Able to seat 7 people in 3 rows of seats, the CX-9’s longer wheelbase improves overall comfort. The front seatbacks are thinner to maximize second-row legroom, and Mazda designed the seating to provide access to the CX-9’s third-row seat even if a child safety seat is installed in the 60/40 split second row.
Mazda says that it made sure to provide plenty of interior storage space for busy, active families. A power rear liftgate is available.
With the debut of the 2016 CX-9, Mazda introduces a new Signature trim level that slots in above the Grand Touring. In this crossover SUV, Signature trim includes Auburn-colored premium Nappa leather upholstery, real Japanese rosewood accents, and authentic aluminum trim in satin and polished finishes. So equipped, Mazda calls the CX-9’s cabin “breathtaking.”
Under the Hood
A turbocharged version of Mazda’s direct-injection, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the 2016 CX-9 and is the only engine offered. It makes 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 2,000 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission feeds the power to the front wheels, and a predictive and continuously variable AWD system is available, delivering up to half of the motive force to the rear wheels.
Mazda knows that turbocharged engines typically suffer lag in terms of low-rpm responsiveness, and that they often don’t return the fuel economy that the EPA and the window sticker promise. Thus, the company claims that it set out to eliminate both problems with this new, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
To solve the lag problem, Mazda engineered a new Dynamic Pressure Turbo. According to Mazda, it is the world’s first turbocharger to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation to the turbocharger’s turbine depending on engine speed.
At low engine rpm, where turbo lag typically occurs, exhaust is routed to the turbine through smaller ports. The effect, as Mazda describes it, is similar to holding a thumb over the end of a garden hose, creating stronger pressure through a smaller outlet. This allows the turbocharger to spool up quickly, creating near-instantaneous boost, thus eliminating turbo lag. At higher engine revs, an additional set of ports opens to increase the exhaust flow.
To solve the fuel-efficiency problem, Mazda employs a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, which prevents the engine from burning excessive fuel when it is running at higher temperatures.
According to Mazda, many turbocharged vehicles control heat by adding more fuel to the engine’s combustion chambers, thereby increasing fuel consumption. The turbocharged SkyActiv engine’s cooled exhaust gas recirculation system eliminates this additional fuel consumption problem, delivering what Mazda claims is a 20% improvement in fuel economy.
As is expected of a Mazda, engineers say the CX-9 will deliver “agile handling (and) tight steering.” The brakes are the same size as in the outgoing model, but because the new CX-9 weighs less, it should stop quicker.
A weakness of the old CX-9 was its mediocre crash-test ratings. The new CX-9’s more rigid vehicle architecture is certainly engineered to solve that problem. Additionally, Mazda debuts new technologies designed to help prevent a collision from occurring in the first place.
An adaptive cruise control system is available, one that can revert to a standard cruise control behavior should the driver prefer it. The CX-9 is also offered with a blind-spot warning system with lane-change assist, lane-departure warning system with lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Perhaps most important, a forward-collision warning system is available, and features automatic emergency braking that operates at all speeds from 2 mph and up, according to Mazda.
Another shortcoming of the old CX-9 is outdated infotainment technology. Mazda fixes that in the new CX-9 by installing its Mazda Connect system with a 7- or 8-in. touch-screen display, depending on the trim level.
For safety, touch sensitivity is active only when the CX-9 is parked. When the SUV is underway, the driver must use voice commands, steering wheel controls, or the control knob and shortcut buttons on the center console. Based on experience in other Mazdas equipped with Mazda Connect, and after a short acclimation period, the center console controls can be operated by touch without looking down.
Two USB ports are provided to front-seat occupants, and second-row passengers can access two quick-charge USB ports. A new 12-speaker Bose premium audio system is available for the CX-9, as well as an Active Driving Display that works similar to a traditional head-up display.