Sharp driving dynamics are not the norm among mid-size crossovers, but if any mainstream automaker is going to make a big utility that's entertaining to drive, it's Mazda.
For 2019, Mazda's CX-9 gets an update that sees it gain some new features along with engineering changes that promise a smoother ride and reduced interior noise levels.
All trim levels gain Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and the top-end GT model now boasts a 360-degree camera system, 7.0-inch configurable digital gauge cluster display, ventilated front seats, power-folding side mirrors and a five-year subscription to the SiriusXM traffic and travel services as standard equipment.
As before, the CX-9 is powered by a 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes up to 250 hp (227 hp on regular-grade fuel) and 310 lb-ft of torque, which goes to a six-speed automatic transmission. Entry-level GS trim can be optioned with either front- or all-wheel drive, while GS-L, GT and Signature trims come standard with AWD.
Standing opposite the CX-9's class-leading driving dynamics is one of the smallest interiors among mid-size crossovers, including a standard third row of seating that is small and challenging to get in and out of for tall riders.
If the CX-9 is sharp to pilot along your favourite backroad, Mazda's torque-rich and thrifty turbo four quickly runs out of steam at higher engine speeds, which makes it feel less potent than V6 competitors when pushed.
In GS trim, the CX-9 comes with 18-inch wheels, 7.0-inch Mazda Connect infotainment display, cloth seating, LED headlights and taillights, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, three-zone automatic climate control, low-speed automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.
GS-L trim adds 20-inch wheels, power tailgate, sunroof, LED fog lights, leather seating, passive keyless entry, heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver's seat and four-way electric front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, wiper de-icer, auto-dimming rear view mirror and an 8.0-inch infotainment display.
GT trim adds the 360-degree camera setup, digital gauge cluster, ventilated front seats, navigation, head-up display, power-folding side mirrors and the i-Activesense suite of active safety features.
Signature trim gains an illuminated grille, brown Nappa leather seating, leather-trimmed steering wheel, Santos Rosewood interior trim, frameless rear view mirror and LED interior accent lighting.
Mazda's fuel consumption estimates are 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with FWD and 11.6/9.1 with AWD.