New for 2020 is an enhanced and refined version of Mazda's range-topping SUV, the CX-9. Mazda updated the already good looking, and popular, mid-size ute with engine tweaks delivering an additional 23 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque from the turbocharged 2.5 liter SkyActiv-G motor. Equipped with i-Active all-wheel drive, the Signature CX-9 now comes standard with an all-new off-road traction assist feature, which uses selective engine torque and braking on the diagonal wheels to aid grip. Additionally, the CX-9 Sport now offers its full suite of standard i-Activesense safety features including Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Smart Brake Support, Cross Traffic Alert, and Collision Warning.
On the inside, and part of how Mazda hits above their weight, captain's chairs will be offered for second row passengers in the Touring and Grand Touring trims. This includes armrests, USB charging ports, cup holders, and heating. Additionally 20-inch aluminum alloy rims will be offered with all the requisite infotainment goodies. The cost of entry for the FWD CX-9 Sport starts at $33,790 going all the way up to $46,115 for the top of line AWD CX-9 Signature model. That might seem like a lot but with all the standard features, updates, ergonomics, premium materials, superior driving dynamics, and Mazda's record of reliability, the CX-9 stacks up against the best SUV's in the market from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, etc.
There's something about Mazda that I always liked. So much so that I'm even willing to let them slide on a horrible experience I had in a metallic off-green 1986 323LX1.6i with seats made of concrete. But I digress. Perhaps it's their underdog status in the car world, which endears me to them. Yearly sales amount to approximately 300,000 units in all of 2018. This accounts for roughly 1.73% of the entire yearly car market. Compared to heavy hitters like Toyota which moved over 2.1 million units, they're small potatoes.
Then there's looks. Ever since Mazda rolled out their "Kodo," or "Soul of Motion," design language they put exterior looks and style distance between themselves and competitors. Where Mazda's of old used to look like an amalgam of Japanese and American brands - you do remember the partnership they used to have with Ford, don't you? - now they possess a distinct look. There is simply no mistaking a Mazda from anything else.
And let's not forget engineering. Their embrace and development of rotary engines in such cars as the Cosmo, RX-line, and other JDM offerings is unmatched in the car world. Driving dynamics have always been top-notch offering a more engaging experience than standard grocery haulers. And, Mazdas have always been smartly packaged offering excellent ergonomics and an enjoyable user experience.
The CX-9 is no different. These most recent tweaks and enhancements further cement the CX-9 as a class leading SUV with the reliability and performance to back up those good looks. Buckle up.