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The five year old 7-seater Mazda CX-9 has had a face lift. We picked up the mid-range version for a drive to see how it fares. Here are some key observations:
The Mazda CX-9 has been retouched according to Mazda’s new Kodo design language. Stylish update from the front, sleek lines and curves. Kudos to Kodo. Smooth finishes, bumper the same colour as body, dual trapezoid exhausts and a rear roof spoiler. Nice piece of kit.
Spacious cabin, easily accommodating 7 passengers with adequate leg room and plenty of boot space, without compromising comfort. The hard black plastics throughout the interior are not the best, and could do with an improvement, but the hesitantly updated instrument panel is striking in black with white meters, and the audio controls on the steering wheel are well-placed.
The third row of seats, while useful for families with large numbers of children to ferry about, was quite hard to access. It’s necessary to fold down the middle row of seats to enter the rear set, which means you have to load your family in order of seating, rear seats first, preferably according to size. The upside of the third row is that you could even get two (smallish) adults in there, moving the second row forward slightly.
There are all the usual functions and interfaces to fiddle with, including air conditioning and heating, an AM/FM radio with 6 speakers (the flagship model has a Bose sound system with 10 speakers), powered seats and cruise control. It has all the sophisticated technological trappings of a much more expensive vehicle, but without the price tag.
The infotainment interface was not particularly intuitive, with more buttons to press than you would think necessary for simple operations. Additionally, Mazda could have made the screen somewhat larger, since the cabin has a very big feel to it.
We enjoyed our outing in the Mazda CX-9. We took it on mainly tarmac, well-surfaced roads and a small area of rough terrain. It was an extremely comfortable drive, so it’s ideal for large families who like to go out on long drives. UAE to Oman would be a pleasure in the CX-9, or even Jeddah to Riyadh for that matter.
The V6’s high powered engine and torque output delivered smooth acceleration and good power, with very pleasing power transitions, both front and rear, in nearly all the situations in which we found ourselves.
Although it might not be the most exciting drive, the steering giving us a slightly over-assisted feel with nearly no feedback, it would appear to be right for its audience. Any family with five screaming kids in the back needs as safe and careful a drive as possible.
The price is also competitive for its target audience. At 120,000 AED starting price, it’s definitely giving good value when you look at higher priced alternatives like Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Nissan Armada or Toyota Fortuner.
Buy the CX-9 if you want a reasonably priced, no-frills family SUV for long drives. Don't expect amazing technology or luxury, it's a good everyday car with adequate space and comfort. If resale value is a major concern, you might want to look at other Japanese competitors as well.