Feb 282018

The Mazda CX-9 pictured in front of this historical mural in Bertram, Texas.

Packed up and ready to leave campus at UT Austin.

You never know when you’ll get a chance to use all the cubic feet of cargo carrying capacity in a crossover utility vehicle (CUV), but when your nephew moves out of his dorm that’s as good a time as any. Latino Traffic Report recently tested the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring including its 71.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with the second and third rows folded flat that provided just enough room to make the move in one trip.

First introduced in 2007, the midsize CUV entered its second generation with the redesigned version in 2016. The CX-9’s success helped grow a complete lineup of CUVs for Mazda and it continues to lead the way for its siblings, offering more versatility and improved drivability.

Cargo can also be defined as people. While classified as a midsize CUV, the CX-9 is the largest offering from Mazda, with three rows of seating and a capacity to seat seven. The seats folded easily, sans breaking a nail, to reveal the cargo room. Once loading began, I was shocked at  how much we managed to fit in the CX-9.

Available with all-wheel-drive (AWD), the test model was configured as a front-wheel drive (FWD) giving it a fuel economy advantage over the AWD. A 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can achieve 227 horsepower and 310 ft.–lb. of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual shift mode comprise Mazda’s Skyactiv powertrain on all CX-9s. The FWD version should achieve an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 22/28 miles per gallon (mpg). I averaged 26.1 mpg in the city and up to 27 mpg on the highway during the test.

While transporting the cargo, many other assets from the CX-9 emerged, like a standard rearview camera, Bluetooth, and the Mazda Connect infotainment system, with a seven-inch or the available the eight-inch touch screen that came with the test model. Compared to other infotainment systems, however, this one was not so user friendly. While the number of presets, from AM to XM, is limitless, it took four—five steps to program each one.

One away from the top-of-the-line trim, the Grand Touring included additional features like a head up display, navigation, second-row retractable sunshades, leather trimmed seats with heated seats in the front and second-row (new for 2018), and Sirius/XM satellite radio. Convenience features included Lane Keep Assist, Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and a Rear Backup Sensor.

The best news for 2018 is that the blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert are now included as standard on all CX-9s. New standard features for 2018 on the test model included a heated steering wheel and Active Driving with sign recognition that uses a camera to update speed limit information instantly. Additional standard creature comforts on the test model included the Bose AM/FM/HD satellite radio, a power liftgate, second-row window sunshades, and a power moonroof.

Pricing for the 2018 CX-9 starts at $33,070. The as-tested price came to $41,810.

: The CX-9 makes room for plenty of cargo with its easy to fold flat seats.  Super kudos for making the blind spot monitor and forward collision warning standard on all models.

No: Mazda Connect infotainment could be more intuitive.





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