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Mazda CX-9, 812 miles, 5 adults, 8 days, 7 nights, Grade = D-

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G. David Felt
Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com

 

Mazda CX-9, 812 miles, 5 adults, 8 days, 7 nights, Grade = D-

25 years of Marriage is what started this lovely 8 days, 7 nights week for the family. Wife wanted to celebrate with the kids in a warm place. Answer was to trade in our time share condo for a time share condo on Kona at Aston Shores at Waikoloa (http://www.astonshoresatwaikoloa.com/).

With the wife asking for a perfect week, I went ahead and got our place, made a reservation for a full size SUV, which sadly I could not get with Enterprise or Hertz as they both were out of stock, crazy but being married on Dec 24th does make auto rental in desirable places like the Hawaiian islands hard to find. I was able to reserve one with Budget rental who said they had a full size available for our trip.

We arrived flying in on a direct flight with Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Kona, got our baggage and then off to Budget at 10pm to pick up our auto rental. Upon arriving, was met by a polite nice young woman, who checked me in, told me I would have a Mazda CX9. Due to my past experiences with Asian auto's, I did ask if they had an American suv? Sadly for Kona Budget uses Mazda as their only SUV's, so CX9 it would be. We walked out to the auto, it was the only one left in the SUV section, loaded up our luggage, got into the auto and I hit my head as I got in and off to our condo for the week.

The next morning, as everyone was unpacking as we just crashed after our flight and slept, I went out to check out the Mazda. Realized that Budget does a terrible job of cleaning the auto's. Garbage was left in the center arm rest, the back door pockets had garbage in it and the interior clearly needed a wipe down. Off I went to get some paper towels and cleaned up the auto before the wife and kids saw it. Once the interior was all cleaned up, I went back in see if everyone was ready to head off to Costco to buy staples for the week when we just chill around the resort versus exploring the island.

First thing I noticed is that my hitting of the head last night when we arrived was not just me being tired on a 6 1/2 hr flight. But was a piss poor design by Mazda on the CX9. My wife who is 5'8" tall had to do the same thing as me, face away from the car, place your butt in the seat and partially bent over swing into the auto. After you get past the A pillar you can sit up straight and there is plenty of head room. In fact everyone that sat in the front seats except Kay my sons girlfriend of 4 years had to do the same thing. My son and Daughter are also both 5'8" tall compared to Kay who is only 5'2" tall.

Next thing is that what I thought was someone turning down the dash lights was actually not it at all but Mazda not putting any lights in the door lock or all the window buttons. Only a single light dot was on the drivers window. At night on an island that does not have bright street lights to allow the view the space to show up, finding your door locks or windows buttons is a pain. I know every maker puts basic controls on either side of the steering wheel, but Mazda really has a strange layout compared to GM, Ford or Dodge. Yes everyone has a different take on this but after all these years, some things should be consistent across all auto's. Example is the windshield wipers and rear window wiper, which should be first on the stick? I say front windshield wipers and yet Mazda felt rear should be.

After checking the lights, getting myself all set for driving, we loaded up to head out for our first day of fun. 

The Radio / Nav system has a Bluetooth option. My son said he would connect his phone so I could hear the navigation for where we were going first for breakfast and to stream Pandora. Sadly their Bluetooth SUCKS! takes about 1 1/2 to 2 miles of driving before the system is sync'd and working, was this way all week, at least it did work once it sync'd. I did think maybe this was an Apple to Mazda issue, but after testing it with my wife's and my own Android phones, experience was the same. Sucky Bluetooth connection and reading of the device. Pandora was actually better being streamed from my sons phone than from the auto system as there was much delay and pause on the auto system but everything played fine on the cell phone.

Off and driving around Kona, first thing noticed by the family was the auto let allot of wind and road noise in. Definitely not my Trailblazer for sure which is much quieter inside. Observation was that while once the radio / Nav was up and working, the angle of it in the auto in a very sunny place makes the screen pretty much useless unless you use your hand or some other item to shade the display. Backup camera worked fine, very reliable but their fish-eye lens really distorts the view. Using your shoulder checks shows two blind spots in the rear making you want to check the camera but again distorted, so was cautious of backing out, pretty much always backed into places so I could easily get out of them.

Corners, I have always prided myself on knowing my corners of an auto, yet this design of the Mazda really sucks for your corners, after a day of driving, I did figure out just how far I had to be to be in tight but not hit anything. Lucky for me, I never caused damage on any of the auto.

Rain, WOW, So by our resort we were in the mid to upper 80's and sunny the whole time, from about 4000 to 9000 feet the island would have rain on and off and boy was it heavy. Two things noticed that the wife was not happy about nor was I, was that even on the fastest speed the windshield did not clear the rain away very well, bothered her more than me, after all heavy rain, but even in lite rain this other really bothered me and is a safety fail. The way the design of the auto is with the side mirrors, the rain makes the side mirrors unusable. I could see nothing out the mirrors as the water comes off the front windshield and smears across the side mirrors and pretty much makes those little mirrors useless. Not a good design at all.

Seats, after our first day in the CX9, the kids let me know that the back seat was hard and not comfy for more than an hour of driving. The front bucket seats while having good side support and for a person as big as me was fine, for my more petite wife, she and the kids when they sat in the front all felt like they were sitting in a Toilet falling through. Very uncomfortable bucket seat. On top of this, only the drivers seat has full electronic control so I could have it go down to the floor, the front passenger seat was set very high and so you only had back and forth and low back support. Very limited, why not have the front seat equal to the drivers. Made no sense and the one time I tried to sit in the front, it was impossible, the setting of the seat was too high for me. All around failure. 3rd row seat was nice folding flat into the floor, but two poor designs, again head rest were manual as they had to be folded down and then you had to pull the 2nd row seats forward to allow you to put up or down the third row seat. Kay said it was the same comfort as the second row and for her plenty of space but then she is only 5'2" tall and very petite.

Engine, WOW, Yes on Kona you have 3 mountains, 1 that is spewing lava, very cool to visit and see, above 9000 feet they had snow after snow storm so was able to snorkel / scuba in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Why do I bring this up, simple the engine really leaves a ton to be desired. average for the week was 16.8 mpg in a FWD CUV. Sucky no way to put it for this auto, worse yet was unless you kept it revved above 4500 rpm, any minor hill caused you to loose speed fast. Driving up to the Observation scopes was very tricky as it was a dirt road with snow and traction just sucked. Not what I was expecting. So according to Mazda this is a 227HP motor on regular gas or 250 on premium. I only used regular the whole time and should have gotten 22/28/25 average of City/Highway/Combined and yet did not matter, 16.8 is what the auto reported to me as average MPG. I was filling up every other day, plus who ever thought hiding the fuel filler door release on the left side of the drivers seat under the seat was cool is an idiot. Not easy to get too.

Lighting, Interior left much to be desired as places I would expect lights to be the auto had none, places that should be easy to read where not, only the drivers dash and nav system would give you clear visible displays, otherwise even the overhead lights left allot to be desired. Mazda says they have key-less illumination entry system, but it never worked on our auto unless the pathetic light they had on each rear view mirror that put out barely any light is what they consider to be this system. Exterior, the headlights are OK, they give you enough light to see the road, but when no other auto's were around I did use the high beams to see the curves better in the road.

Door Locks, Mazda says they have speed-sensing auto locking, not sure what it is, but the double click to unlock the auto was slow and most times a third press of the button was needed.

Center console, comfy for my arm rest, strange with the dual split opening in the center, you had to open both sides to store anything in it, so not sure why they decided to split such a small center storage arm rest into what is about two 2 1/2 inch wide doors. A single door would be much better.

USB ports, sad that all would allow connection to the NAV system but only 1 port in the center arm rest would charge your device and even then only android, apple could not get a charge off the port. Really weird cheap implementation of the USB ports.

End Result - The auto was reliable and got us all over the island for 812 miles. Other than that, I really could not find any exciting point that would make me recommend the auto to anyone. My family was happy with our trip, wished we had a better auto. Next time I will reserve much earlier.

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I am assuming you are talking about 2017 CX-9.  It is not clear until you talk about the engine.

I have not used Bluetooth in the new CX-9, or test driven it for that matter, but I have used quiet extensively it in new Mazda 6.  Bluetooth always connected fast and worked flawlessly for me.

Also, you saying right in the beginning " Due to my past experiences with Asian auto's" kind of puts your credibility under question with all due respect.

Not saying of course that CX-9 is perfect, far from it.  However, initial attitude and expectation I think is important.

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On 1/6/2017 at 10:09 AM, ykX said:

I am assuming you are talking about 2017 CX-9.  It is not clear until you talk about the engine.

I have not used Bluetooth in the new CX-9, or test driven it for that matter, but I have used quiet extensively it in new Mazda 6.  Bluetooth always connected fast and worked flawlessly for me.

Also, you saying right in the beginning " Due to my past experiences with Asian auto's" kind of puts your credibility under question with all due respect.

Not saying of course that CX-9 is perfect, far from it.  However, initial attitude and expectation I think is important.

I understand the point you are trying to make, when your 280lbs, 6'6" tall of muscle, most asian auto's do not fit me. For a CUV, I expect space and this failed on that. Yes, this was a 2017 CX-9 and I have to say I was totally shocked by the sluggish Bluetooth. My son also was very unimpressed with the slow response.

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i had big mixed feelings when i drove this new gen CX-9.  I didn't think the powertrain was up to snuff and it doesn't surprise me that it doesn't get amazing mpg.  If i recall the console between the front seats was a huge intruder into the side of my leg.

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14 hours ago, regfootball said:

i had big mixed feelings when i drove this new gen CX-9.  I didn't think the powertrain was up to snuff and it doesn't surprise me that it doesn't get amazing mpg.  If i recall the console between the front seats was a huge intruder into the side of my leg.

Yes you are correct, the console does push into leg space. Over all packaging is not that impressive.

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