Mazda CX-9

18 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda CX-9
Mazda CX-9

Joshua Dowling

Make MAZDA Model CX-9 Series Year 2008 Body Group 4WD

Make an enquiry

Room to manoeuvre

The more people buy four-wheel-drives, the more people buy four-wheel-drives.

Despite rising petrol prices and a supposed public backlash against them, soft-roaders and the like continue to grow in popularity at record pace.

Sales of medium-sized 4WDs have increased by 22 per cent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2007. Overall, the new-vehicle market has grown by just 3.3 per cent, figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show.

The Ford Territory and Toyota Kluger have broken the seven-seater 4WD mould with recreational vehicles that are more urban friendly than the agricultural models that preceded them. In the six or so years since they’ve been out, however, other brands have introduced vehicles built to a similar soft-roader formula.

It works like this: create a vehicle with the roominess of a full-sized 4WD but give it car-like levels of safety and, despite the extra weight and mass, make it feel as much as possible like a car to drive.

Large soft-roaders also have been described as part-car, part-4WD and part-people-mover. This possibly explains why buyers of Mazda’s new seven-seater CX-9 have traded in vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

To find out what type of customers are responsible for this phenomenal sales growth we rang some Mazda dealers. After only a few calls a clear pattern emerged: there was no clear pattern.

Mate, we’ve traded in Mitsubishi Pajeros, Nissan Patrols, Ford Territories, you name it, says one dealer south of Sydney.

Another closer to the harbour reports customers trading in mid-sized sedans and even some compact soft-roaders like the Honda CR-V.

Another dealer, in western Sydney’s mortgage belt, says customers have traded in Commodore and Falcon wagons, and people-movers such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Tarago.

Some of the CX-9’s sales seem to have come at the expense of its smaller sibling, the five-seat Mazda CX-7. Sales of that model are down by 25 per cent in the first three months of this year compared with last year but Mazda insists the models appeal to different types of buyers.

People either come in to buy a CX-9 because they’ve got a family to freight around or they buy a CX-7 because they don’t have to worry about carrying a car-load of kids, says one dealer.

With most cars, the most affordable models are also the most popular, but more than two-thirds of all CX-9s sold are the more expensive luxury model ($57,265 as opposed to $49,990 for the price leader).

So, what’s the appeal? The CX-9 is one of the roomiest seven-seaters among its peers, has a good safety scorecard, it’s well made, has a powerful engine and, for a soft-roader, is actually OK to drive.

Downsides? It’s a little thirsty measured against the latest class standards (although more frugal than a Ford Territory). And one of the trade-offs for the extra space is that, at times, it’s so big it can be a bugger to park.

It has a reasonable over-shoulder view when lane-changing but I’d prefer the driver’s side mirror to have an ultra-wide convex lens to see more of what’s in the adjacent lane.

The presentation of the interior is typically Mazda and that means plenty of clever cubbies and clear, user-friendly instrumentation. There’s also a classy, high-gloss black finish around the audio and air-conditioning controls.

Overall, it’s impressive but for one aspect: most new Mazdas we’ve driven lately have opted for softer materials on the dashboard and door moulds. The CX-9 cabin, however, has cheaper-looking plastics that are hard to the touch.

It’s not the kind of thing that’s likely to become a deal-breaker but we thought it was worth noting because every other model in the Mazda line-up has improved in this area.

There’s another way of looking at this minor criticism. If that’s all we can fault, the rest of the car must be pretty good, which it is.

The seats are comfortable and there’s ample adjustment (the base model gets cloth seats, the flagship gets leather with electric adjustment) and its middle- and third-row seats are among the roomiest in the class. The third row (all CX-9s are seven-seaters, the rival Subaru Tribeca and Toyota Kluger are available with five or seven seats) can fit two adults at a stretch (or should that be squeeze?) but it’s still best used for kids.

Three-zone air-conditioning keeps everyone comfortable. The only thing missing is a factory-fitted DVD player, available on the flagships of both the Mazda’s rivals. The base Mazda’s cheaper price, however, more than covers the cost of an aftermarket system that can hang over the headrests.

The rear seats fold completely flat at the flick of a lever and the available cargo space is vast. It won’t take long for friends to figure out they can fit furniture or mountain bikes in there.

Unlike some brands that continue to fit two levels of safety depending on a buyer’s budget, both CX-9s get the full safety kit.

Front, side and curtain airbags are standard and cover all three rows (the Toyota Kluger also has this, while the curtains in most other seven-seaters cover only the first two rows) and a rear-view camera is standard (as in the Kluger and Tribeca). Stability control, which can prevent a skid in a corner if travelling too fast for the conditions, is part of the package, too.

Stability control is also standard on the CX-9’s rivals but the calibration seems to work a little better in the Mazda, keeping things under control before they get out of hand. This could be due to the slightly stiffer sidewalls in the Mazda’s tyres. The Kluger and Tribeca have softer tyres for a more comfortable ride.

The trade-off for soft tyres is a slower steering response which, in turn, can influence the sensitivity and how fast stability control systems can take effect.

Because the CX-9 has been tuned with corners in mind, the ride can be a little choppy on rough surfaces but it’s not an uncomfortable compromise.

It took me a while to get used to the sensitivity of the CX-9’s steering. At first I was convinced it was too sharp for the size and mass of the car but over time that feeling went away and I got more accustomed to it.

The 3.7-litre V6 has plenty of grunt, is smooth, refined and works well with the six-speed auto. With a load on board, or in stop-start traffic, the CX-9 loves a drink but you can get respectable fuel economy if you treat the accelerator gingerly when coasting.

Mazda says fuel consumption isn’t a big consideration for buyers looking for a vehicle like this and, judging by its sales success so far, this seems to be the case.

The thinking is that customers who need to freight seven people are going to be paying more at the bowser no matter what they’re driving, so the vehicle may as well be enjoyable to drive. Thankfully, unlike some models in the Mazda range, the CX-9 runs on regular unleaded.

Overall, the Mazda CX-9 is such an impressive package, it teetered on a five-star score in our assessment but lost some of its kudos because it is thirstier than its main rivals, some cheap interior plastics and the lack of a DVD player (an odd oversight given the target market is families).

It was a reminder that no one yet quite makes the perfect vehicle in this class. For example, the updated Subaru Tribeca is nicely turned out but lacks curtain airbag protection in the third row.

With the exception of the compromised middle-row centre seat (it’s too skinny), the Toyota Kluger is by far the most impressive vehicle in the $40,000 to $50,000 price range, which limbos under the Mazda’s starting price.

When the price climbs to between $50,000 and $60,000, however, it’s hard to beat the CX-9.

Tagged as:

Other articles of the category "Mazda":

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

Born in the USSR


About this site

For all questions about advertising, please contact listed on the site.

Car Catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions about cars