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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
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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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      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
  • Posts

    • Obviously... heavy duty trucks like class 8 are going to be required to run flaps in any state. I kinda just stated that above. Seems Seattle has a lot more on it’s enforcement mind than mud flaps. If you think about it, a vehicle’s tire isn’t throwing rocks from the middle of a tire as often as it’s more likely to be coming from where the tire meets the ground. There; almost nothing is ‘properly covered’.  Hm-mmm... I wonder if a vehicle that is scampering to 60 in 3 secs is more often going to be throwing rocks than the average lifted pickup. 🧐
    • That is interesting, I still think that is wrong, all auto's especially heavy duty trucks like Class 8 should have the wheels covered and the back with mud flaps to minimize throwing rocks. The construction of lite rail in the Seattle area has played hell with cracked windshields from all the dump trucks and semi trucks delivering all over the area product with no mud flaps. Then you have the lifted pickup trucks with idiots that push the wheels outside the wheel well and through stuff at your auto. I just find it wrong to cause so much damage by not properly covering up the wheels.
    • Have to say that Ford is really bringing it in competition to Jeep with the partnering with Yakima to ensure off-road fans have the ultimate play time outdoors.
    • The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline edition is the most off-road capable Explorer ever due to increased ground clearance, improved approach and departure angles, steel skid plates, Torsen limited-slip differential, Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, new shocks, springs and stabilizer bars. The Timberline sports a functional, capable appearance with unique front and rear styling combined with three rows of seating for everyone. Fords marketing data shows that over the last 10 years, SUVs have jumped to command 55% of the U.S. Market with sales growing from 4.6 million units in 2011 to 7.8 million for 2020. This same Ford data is saying that owners are reporting a 56% increase in off-road use over the last 3 years alone. Timberline was built to give customers more confidence and capability to get to the their next adventure be it fishing or a remote off the beaten path spot. A second very important trend is the data showing people are now participating in more outdoor activities and adventures than before due to the pandemic. 40% of all Americans surveyed say they spent more time outdoors since the pandemic began. The Ford Explorer Timberline off-road credibility starts with Ford's standard intelligent four-wheel drive. A system that automatically adjusts torque between the wheels based on conditions and driver inputs delivering best traction, pre-empting wheel slip with proper application of torque per wheel. Ford continues the off-road passion with the following details: Intelligent four-wheel drive Torsen Limited-slip rear differential Terrain Management System featuring seven drive modes (based on 2020 version, could be different on the 2021) Normal mode Eco mode Sport mode Slippery mode Deep Snow and Sand mode Trail mode Tow/Haul mode Standard Hill Descent Control for constant speed control between 2 to 12 mph maximum Timberline capability Heavy duty steel skid plates Enhanced steering calibration Heavy duty stabilizer bars and springs tuned for the Timberline Includes exclusive rebound springs in the front to prevent sudden jarring off-road Heavy Duty Shocks raises the ride height 0.8 inches (Developed for the Explorer Police Interceptor) Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 All-Terrain tires Approach angle of 23.5 degrees and departure angle of 23.7 degrees Minimum ground clearance of 8.7 inches EcoBoost 2.3L engine producing 300 HP and 310 lb/ft of torque paired with a 10 speed automatic transmission giving a 5,300 lb towing capability. Ford only states a couple modes in their press release and as such it could be using the same 7 modes from the 2020 Explorer, but since this is the Timberline edition of rugged off-road prowess, it could be using the Bronco 7 G.O.A.T. modes which stands for Goes Over Any Type of Terrain. This would be the first 5 listed above and then would include a Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes for the final two. Either way you will have a very capable off-road SUV. The Explorer Timberline edition launches a new Forged Green Metallic exterior color with a blackout treatment and red ember tow hooks rated at 150% gross vehicle weight. Ford has already incorporated a heavy duty wiring harness that allows Fords wide dealer network to install Ford Performance auxiliary lights giving an output of 160,000 candelas of illumination for nighttime trail riding. This equates to 2.5 times the brightness of the Explorer Timberline high-beam headlamps. Ford's Deep Cypress interior trim color compliments the new Forged Green Metallic exterior and includes the standard Co-Pilot360 with Assist+ technology featuring Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go and Speed sign recognition, Lane Centering, Evasive Steering assist and voice activated touch screen navigation. Standard 360 degree cameras provide views of all potential obstacles including a front view camera to help with cresting hills off-road. Ford has partnered with Yakima Rooftop accessories for customer to take any and all the equipment they want on their adventure. 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is available to order now and arrives at Ford dealers summer of 2021. Ford Grows Rugged SUV Lineup with New Ford Explorer Timberline – Most Off-Road-Capable Explorer Ever | Ford Media Center What’s New in the 2020 Ford Explorer Terrain Management System? (akinsford.com) Terrain Management System - Ford Technology| Ford KSA 2021 Ford® Bronco Sport First Edition SUV | Model Detail & Specs View full article
    • In my state, mud flaps are tied to registered vehicle weight. My COE is exempt because it's registered GVW is 5000 and the 'line' is 6000, even tho it's a cab/chassis with no bed or rear fenders. 
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