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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

      ...the outlier in the full-size crossover class...

    Over a year ago, I pitted the Mazda CX-9 against the Volkswagen Atlas to find out which was the better three-row crossover. The CX-9 put up a good fight with a very luxurious interior and impressive driving dynamics. However, the Atlas took home the win as it proved to be the better carrier of passengers and cargo, along with providing a slightly smoother ride. A year on, the CX-9 makes a return to the C&G Detroit Garage to see if it could redeem itself. Spoiler alert: I still feel the same way as I did last year.

    • Going on three years, the CX-9 is still one of the best looking three-row crossovers on sale. Its graceful lines, tapered rear pillar, and slim lights make the crossover look more expensive than it actually is.
    • The Grand Touring may miss out on the Nappa leather for the seats and Rosewood trim found on the Signature, it is still a nice place to sit in. Bright metalwork contrasts nicely with soft-touch plastics and leather upholstery on the seats.
    • But the interior also houses some of the CX-9’s key flaws beginning with the seat arrangement. All 2019 CX-9s come with seating for seven people, there is no option for six with a set of captain chairs - that is being rectified for 2020.
    • Those sitting in the second-row will have no complaints about space, but anyone sitting in the third-row will bemoan the lack of legroom. This can improve if the second-row is slid forward.
    • Cargo space is another weak spot. The CX-9 only offers 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 71.2 cubic feet with both rows folded. To give some perspective, the Atlas offers 20.6, 55.5, and 96.8 cubic feet of space.
    • 2019 finally sees Mazda add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to their MazdaConnect infotainment system. This is an improvement as MazdaConnect trails competitors in terms of graphics and a slightly confusing menu structure. At least the control knob and shortcut buttons make using the system less aggravating.
    • Power comes from a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder with 227 horsepower (250 if you fill up with premium) and 310 pound-feet. This is channeled through a six-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
    • Putting a turbo-four into a three-row crossover seems like madness, but Mazda was able to make it work with no issue. Torque arrives at a low 2,000 rpm, allowing the CX-9 to leap away from any driving situation. Response from the transmission is excellent with snappy up and downshifts.
    • Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23, slightly better than the 22.5 mpg for the 2018 model.
    • The ace up the CX-9’s sleeve is the handling. No other crossover can close to matching the taut characteristics on offer with body motions kept in check and sharp steering. Though how many people consider a plus is likely very small.
    • Ride quality falls under supple with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Impressive when you consider this is riding 20-inch wheels.
    • The Mazda CX-9 is an outlier in the three-row crossover class as it focuses more on the driving experience and looks. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives Mazda a unique selling point. But a small space for passengers and cargo is the CX-9’s major downfall. 

    Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-9, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2019
    Make: Mazda
    Model: CX-9
    Trim: Grand Touring AWD
    Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Inline-Four
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 227 or 250 @ 5,000 (Depending on the fuel)
    Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
    Curb Weight: 4,383 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
    Base Price: $42,640
    As Tested Price: $45,060 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Illuminated Door Sill Trim Plates - $575.00
    Front & Rear Bumper Trim - $550.00
    Snowflake White Pearl - $200.00
    Cargo Mat - $100.00

    Edited by William Maley



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    I am sure this will be a hit with Mazda fans and those 5'8" tall or shorter. I would be interested to know if they still limit the front passenger seat in range of movement compared to the drivers seat. That was a deal breaker for me on a 2 week rental as I could not let the wife drive as I could not fit in the front seat. Mazda focuses on short people and gets away with plenty of shortcuts in making it a truly usable auto.

    Seems like a year later you still have the same weaknesses. 

    Thank you Bill for taking it to task and writing it up, very interesting to read.

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    @dfeltHere we go again with 5'8" people.  I am 6'1" and had no issues with CX-9 driver seat.

    CX-9 indeed tighter on space than some other three row crossovers but it handles like a sports sedan and looks great compared to the rest of soap boxes in the segment.  

    Edited by ykX
    • Upvote 1

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    1 hour ago, ykX said:

    @dfeltHere we go again with 5'8" people.  I am 6'1" and had no issues with CX-9 driver seat.

    CX-9 indeed tighter on space than some other three row crossovers but it handles like a sports sedan and looks great compared to the rest of soap boxes in the segment.  

    This was the current CX9?

    Yes I know some are longer body, shorter legs or long legs, shorter body. I actually am in the middle with body length equal to leg length and I guess my 5" extra height makes a big difference to me as I could not fit in the front passenger seat as it did not go back or go down as much as the drivers seat. I had to have the drivers seat all the way down and back to fit into the CX9. The racked windshield also makes it much hard to get into the auto as you have to bend the head down and put your butt in before pulling legs and head into the auto.

    Fact is we all have different body types and those that know me as a large body building 6'6" tall man knows pretty much all Asian auto's fit smaller people.

    Here is a picture of me and my family. Wife, daughter and Son all 5'8" and then me at 6'6". Except for my daughter, everyone has broad shoulders.

    9871.jpeg

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    On 12/6/2019 at 11:10 AM, dfelt said:

    This was the current CX9?

    Yes I know some are longer body, shorter legs or long legs, shorter body. I actually am in the middle with body length equal to leg length and I guess my 5" extra height makes a big difference to me as I could not fit in the front passenger seat as it did not go back or go down as much as the drivers seat. I had to have the drivers seat all the way down and back to fit into the CX9. The racked windshield also makes it much hard to get into the auto as you have to bend the head down and put your butt in before pulling legs and head into the auto.

    Fact is we all have different body types and those that know me as a large body building 6'6" tall man knows pretty much all Asian auto's fit smaller people.

    Here is a picture of me and my family. Wife, daughter and Son all 5'8" and then me at 6'6". Except for my daughter, everyone has broad shoulders.

    9871.jpeg

    Nice family picture!

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    CX-9 oozes luxury, polish, refinement and "I want to drive that".

    I enjoyed my 2011 back in the day with the 3.7L, and always thought even back then it was better built and more refined than things on the market like the MDX, etc. Now it really us.

    Having driven and ridden in them all, CX-9 is the most comfortable, best seats, etc. rolling down the road, but not the biggest, no. I'm 6'3" and interior comfort is 110% vital, wrap around seats, console, etc. included. Middle row in these is super comfy, too. It's bigger than a Jeep Grand Cherokee but shorter than a Durango, Explorer, etc., etc. so "just right" for many.

    What do you think of the 2.5T in real world day to day, use? Sound, feel, power, off the line, passing on highway...etc.?

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      The Price Is Right
      With a starting price tag of $32,300 for the base UX 200, this makes it the most affordable model in the class. It also happens to be very good value as it comes with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 as standard. This suite of active safety features includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. The UX 200 F-Sport seen here comes with an as-tested price of $41,285 and that’s with the optional navigation system, windshield deicer, heads-up display, and power tailgate. To get something similar on the competition, you’ll need to spend a few extra thousand dollars.
      The 2020 UX 200 makes a very compelling case for itself in the subcompact luxury crossover class. This is due in part to its low price and a long list of standard equipment. A competent handling package in the F-Sport and decent fuel economy figures help bolster the model further. But there are areas Lexus needs to address, primarily the engine and infotainment system. The good news is that Lexus has the necessary solutions to both these issues in the form of the infotainment system from the RX and borrowing the 2.5L four-cylinder from the Camry. It would move the UX from being somewhere in the competent class to one that can compete for class honors.
      Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the UX 200, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: UX
      Trim: 200 F-Sport
      Engine: 2.0L 16-Valve DOHC VVT-i Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: CVT, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 169 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/37/33
      Curb Weight: 3,307 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $40,260
      As Tested Price: $41,285 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Navigation System with 10.3-in Color Multimedia Display - $2,200.00
      F-Sport Premium Package - $975.00
      Power Rear Door w/Kick Sensor - $600.00
      Premium Paint - $595.00
      Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert w/Braking - $565.00
      Blind Spot Monitor - $500.00
      Head Up Display (HUD) - $500.00
      Heated F Sport Steering Wheel w/Paddle Shifters - $150.00
      Windshield Deicer - $100.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00
    • By William Maley
      I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family?
      The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road. Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not. When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake. While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed. My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang. Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks. The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8.  The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Challenger
      Trim: R/T
      Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200
      Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19
      Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00
      TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00
      Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00
      Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00
      Power Sunroof - $1,295.00
      UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00
      Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00
      Shakedown Graphics - $495.00

      View full article
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