2016 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Test Wrap-up

Wrapping up our CX-9 long-term test, we look back at the highlights and flaws in Mazda’s flagship crossover.

Over the past four months, we’ve thoroughly tested nearly every aspect of the Mazda CX-9. While it’s an afterthought in the market, we wanted to know if it would be worth putting in your family’s driveway, so we put it through its paces to make sure it was up to the task. Our long-term test is over now, but before we let it go, here is what we learned.

As Mazda Tells Us, Driving Matters

As promised by Mazda marketing, the CX-9 is a blast to drive. Sure it’s big and heavy, but it’s also long and wide and low relative to others in the segment, so it has a great stance that benefits its driving dynamics.

The 2.5L Turbo has plenty of grunt to get it going, 310 lb-ft of toque to be exact, and it never seems to want for power, even when we run it on regular grade fuel, which puts its horsepower at a modest 227. Horsepower rises to 250 if you spend the extra coin on premium fuel, but we stopped doing that about halfway through our test after alternating at each fill-up over the first few months. As to the transmission, in the entire four months we’ve had it, there hasn’t been a single complaint or hiccup, so about the only fault we could raise with the powertrain is a bit of coarse engine noise.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Steering and throttle are quick and light without being jumpy, which is the right middle ground for a vehicle that will mostly be used for family duties, but it has a mild Sport mode too that perks up throttle response and holds gears a bit longer. On our way up to our annual camping trip, we found some roads straight out of a car commercial, where I had a great time as we pushed the CX-9, and to be honest, the CX-9 still had more to give. It’s easily the best in this segment for driving manners – comfortable over the long haul, but surprisingly agile in the corners. Although we didn’t reach the snowy season to give it a proper winter test, the AWD system kept the CX-9 secure and stable in any rain or rough terrain we encountered.

SEE MORE: 2016 Mazda CX-9 Road Trip Edition

Another area in which Mazda impressed was fuel consumption. After 8,000 miles, the trip computer shows a solid 20+ mpg thanks to a mix of short-distance commuting, a few long road trips and generally warm summer and fall weather. In pure highway driving, we saw results as good as 25 mpg on one trip.

The Verdict: 2016 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Test

We’ve gotten to know the CX-9 really well in the last few months, commuting every day, running the kids to their activities, taking long road trips, navigating the suburbs and the city in rain or shine and it has thoroughly earned our respect.

With modest cargo space, a few ergonomic flaws and some notable missing features, it doesn’t blow the competition away on the spec sheet, which were the primary reasons it fared rather poorly in our Midsize Crossover Comparison Test, coming in fifth out of five vehicles.

However, the Mazda CX-9 speaks to us as drivers, delivering impressive dynamics and efficiency for such a large SUV, and there is no question in my mind that it has proven that it can meet a small family’s vehicle needs. It might not dominate the sales charts, but it’s worth a closer look for families looking for a fun all-purpose crossover.