As far as seven-seaters go, CX-9 is probably one of the sleekest and most petite in the current market.
It’s not as shapely as its sedan siblings but it still unmistakably carries the Mazda DNA.
Credit its surgical, nose to tail ‘Kodo’ (the automaker’s eight-year old design philosophy) implementation for all the trimmed excess fat from this midsize.
Even with a downsized 2.5L engine under the hood, Mazda has retained that bulbous front that makes the mouthy grille appear like it’s almost jutting out.
It may not be quickly noticeable but there’s a thick V-shaped chrome strip that looks good as it borders the thin slots of the grille, which in turn complements the slim LED headlamps (with Auto On/Off function).
Instead of the 20s, which is on the top trim AWD Signature (there are only two models in the lineup), it sports smaller 18s that seem to fall just a tad short of filling up the wheel well.
Around back are slim dark LED taillights separated by a shiny chrome strip put in place for aesthetic purposes.
Both the tailgate and two front doors come with a Lock/Unlock button for easy access so as long as the keyfob is on your person, there’s no need to bring it out of your pocket/bag.
With a price tag of Php 2.35 million, it’s no surprise that the cabin comes with posh appointments – leather seats (all three rows), soft-touch materials on the dashboard, brushed aluminum and chrome accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, all packaged dark sophisticated layout.
Ceiling is sufficient in the first two rows but because of the sloping roof, which is good for aerodynamics, rear height is not so good, especially for hauling lots of cargo.
Even with the 60:40 split-and-reclining second row seats, anything more than four large balikbayan boxes would be a tight squeeze.
Driver’s seat is 6-way power-adjustable while the steering wheel (with audio, Bluetooth, & cruise control buttons) is manually adjustable to easily get fitted into the right driving position.
Mazda Connect (the round knob along the center tunnel) controls the 8-inch LCD touchscreen that handles audio sent to the six-speaker system in the cabin.
It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Just connect your device to any of the two USB ports to fire up the app.
A Start/Stop button fires up the first turbocharged engine in the SkyActiv-G line to produce 226.8 brake horsepower and 309.7 ft-lb of torque.
Mazda redesigned the powerplant’s layout and put the turbocharger closer to exhaust valve to have the air go through a much smaller opening to increase velocity and reduce lag.
The result is power that feels like it’s coming from a V6 instead of an inline-4, and that’s even in plain Drive mode (it also comes with a more responsive Sport mode).
In Drive, acceleration is satisfactory even for the impatient motorist. It’s also possible to speed up steadily without breaching the 2,000 RPM mark and not feel like it’s crawling.
And that’s even while tipping the scales at 1,820 kilograms.
Power to the front-wheel drive layout cycles through a Sky-Drive six-speed automatic transmission that uses a multi-plate clutch to engage and disengage the torque converter for better performance.
Shifting feels more direct and instantaneous, just like a dual clutch, but with higher fuel efficiency.
On the highway, average consumption is 11.5 kilometers per liter. City driving brings it down to about 7.9.
Ride comfort is very good even under very bad road conditions because the 18s, along sound-deadening components, keep noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels very low.
The suspension allows it to feel extremely poised even at high speeds that 100 km/h barely feels like 70 and even if it isn’t as tall as most SUVs, it doesn’t have an increased advantage in terms of rollover resistance.
While it may not have some of the features the top-of-line model has like Lane Keep Assist, blind spot monitoring, that 360-degree view camera, sunroof, rear door sunshades, it still has amenities that will give even premium models a run for its money.
With a plush ride, powerful engine and a clean and neat execution of the ‘Soul of Motion’ design, the 2018 Mazda CX-9 FWD Sport Touring makes for one compelling proposition in the midsized SUV segment.
|Cylinder Head||Four-cylinder, DOHC|
|Fuel Injector||Direct injection, turbocharged|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||226.8 bhp|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||309.7 ft-lb|
|Transmission||Sky-Drive six-speed automatic transmission|
|Top Speed||212.4 km/h | 132 mph|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||6.8 seconds|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||10.3 km/l combined|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||Php 2.35 million|
|What's Great||Superb compact design, fuel efficient, handles great and performs like it has a V6 engine|
|What's Not So||The compact design is its weakness. As spacious as its cargo space seems, it is limited by the ceiling height|
|C! Editors Rating||9.5/10|