The 2020 Mazda CX-9 offers up three-row seating, abundant features, and plenty of safety tech for growing families. But it's the driving dynamics that set this family hauler apart from the seven-passenger SUV segment. The top Signature trim offers shoppers the most luxury in this class. This week we drive the 2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature with all-wheel-drive.
What's new for 2020?
The Mazda CX-9 gets a new 9-inch infotainment touchscreen option, second-row captain's chairs are available, and two USB ports are added to the third row on the upper Grand Touring and Signature trim levels.
Features & Options
The top-of-the lineup 2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD ($46,115) comes standard with plenty of family features. It comes with larger 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shifter, 60/40-split-folding second-row seats, 50/50-split-folding third-row seats, and a rearview camera.
It also comes with heated mirrors, a power liftgate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and low-speed emergency braking (Smart City Brake Support), Other Signature upgrades include heated front seats, premium leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat (four-way front passenger seat), an 8-inch infotainment display, and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.
Other features include LED fog lights, automatic wipers, roof rails, sunroof, and adaptive cruise control. Safety tech includes lane-keeping assist, rear parking sensors, upgraded frontal collision warning and mitigation systems, and a heads-up display. Driver-seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle-row seats, aluminum interior trim, and additional interior lighting is included. Navigation, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and satellite radio are standard, and the Signature variant also adds exterior LED accent lighting and rosewood interior trim. Total MSRP including destination: $47,855.
The cabin of the CX-9 Signature is upscale and comfortable, making liberal use of plush materials that we usually see in premium luxury vehicles. The fit and finish are tight, and the quality of materials are the best in this three-row SUV class. The CX-9 feels larger than it looks on the outside, and there's plenty of room for taller adults.
The Nappa leather front seats are extra comfy, and they won't leave you tired at the end of the day, as we found out on two trips to Denver this week. The interior is extra comfortable for longer commutes and takes the family on a trip to the mountains for a weekend getaway. The second-row captain's chairs make life easy for adults, and the third row is ideal for kids.
The CX-9 has some shortcomings; however, the front and rear doors are relatively short, and we found ourselves hitting our head when we got out. The CX-9 Signature comes with heated and cooled seats, heated second-row captains chairs, but no heated steering wheel, which is a surprise for this top trim.
The CX-9 comes with 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up and 71.2 cubes with the second row folded flat, which is less than competing SUVs and crossovers. The third row will be uncomfortable for adults but works well for smaller kids.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 227 horsepower and a healthy 310 lb-ft. of torque on regular unleaded fuel (or 250 hp and 320 lb-ft with premium gas). It sends power to all four wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on the Signature model.
EPA fuel mileage estimates are 20/26 city/highway and 23 combined mpg.
The high-altitude west of Denver is the perfect place to test the CX-9's turbocharged engine. Some larger SUVs struggle to get up the steep inclines on I-70, but the 2.5-liter powerplant has no problem as we pushed it hard uphill. The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine has more power than you would think for a powerplant this size and will satisfy most drivers.
The CX-9 had no trouble passing slower traffic in the rarefied air near Evergreen, Colorado, at 8300 feet elevation. We had no problem accelerating when merging, and the 6-speed automatic transmission in Sport Mode is smooth and executes quick shifts when you need the extra boost.
On the highway, the CX-9 feels stable, and the cabin is reasonably quiet. We experienced some body lean on curvy roads, but overall, the CX-9 powers around the tight curves with little effort.
Overall, the CX-9 gives the driver a feeling of confidence and offers superior driving dynamics. The CX-9 Signature comes standard with all-wheel drive and offers all-weather capability.
The top-trim 2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD delivers a level of luxury often seen in more expensive brands. Those who need a three-row crossover for commuting or taking the family on a trip to the mountains to get away will find the CX-9 will meet their needs. It delivers an impressive degree of comfort thanks to a smooth ride, quiet cabin, and quality materials.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Mazda