First Drive Review
The new Mazda CX-9 occupies a class of vehicles that often come up a bit short on style, even though that’s ostensibly the reason why many buyers are choosing a three-row crossover over a much more spacious and practical minivan. The need for passenger and cargo space tend to drive body-side sheetmetal that’s more upright and a roofline that plunges less dramatically, if much at all. And these competing priorities tend to water down the elegance of these vehicles, where functionality is so mission critical.
That’s where the CX-9 sets itself apart. It’s the Karl Lagerfeld of a mom-jeans segment. Redone from bumper to bumper, the CX-9 borrows some cues from the CX-5 but also seemingly cribs a few styling flourishes from the Infiniti QX70. The CX-9 looks fantastic, especially on the optional 20-inch wheels. Covered in the eerie glow of Machine Gray paint, it looks expensive enough to wear a luxury-brand badge. Infiniti’s three-row QX60 and Acura’s MDX look plain by comparison.
It’s the same story inside. Material quality is excellent throughout. Many of the plastics are so finely grained and soft to the touch that they appear to be bovine based. As in all Mazdas, there are round analog dials, but unlike the binnacles in other Mazdas, one of the round housings actually contains a color LCD screen that can display trip information, a compass, and navigation directions.