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What's New for 2018?
Quite a few changes have been made for the 2018 Mazda CX-9. First, the new Soul Red Crystal body color replaces the Soul Red Metallic paint color. Upper-level trims now play host to heated second-row seats, and lower-level trims have options for additional active safety features. The biggest change, however, is the standardization of automatic emergency braking and G-Vectoring Control across the entire lineup.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2018 Mazda CX-9 – The Pros
1. Exceptional Handling and Steering
Steering and handling are almost flawless on the 2018 Mazda CX-9. The CX-9 sticks to a straight line and gives a good amount of feedback to the driver while taking turns. This SUV steers better than most of its competition and even feels smoother than what you find on some sedans. Handling is simple and refined, too, even though there is a small amount of body roll during sharp turns. However, this doesn't make the vehicle feel unstable and keeps the driver feeling secure.
2. High-Quality Interior Materials
There is no doubt that Mazda utilizes high-quality materials to construct its vehicles. The lower-level trims look modern and spunky, and the higher-level trims rival the insides of some luxury vehicles with its leather upholstery and almost gap-free surfaces.
3. Third Row Access
Accessing the third row of seats is surprisingly easy and quick. While your short trek back there might look a bit awkward, it is very momentary. You just might have to duck your head a little bit if you are tall.
4. High Standards for Safety
Mazda places a lot of emphasis on safety standards. In fact, the CX-9 has been labeled as one of IIHS's Top Safety Picks+ due to its excellent crash test performances. Plenty of safety features come standard on the CX-9, including low-speed automatic emergency braking.
5. Plenty of Additional Driver Aids
Mazda slaps a bunch of helpful driver aids onto the 2018 Mazda CX-90, including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and Digital Recognition Support. Digital Recognition Support is included in the Mazda Radar Cruise Control system and helps drivers stay at a safe distance from other vehicles and cyclists.
6. Comfortable Seats
The CX-9 has comfortable front and second-row seats. Although the third-row seats are basically what you should expect them to be (which is only moderately comfy to sit in for short trips), the front and second rows are well-bolstered. The second-row seats slide and recline for extra comfort during long rides.
7. The Line-Topping Signature Trim
The top-of-the-line Signature trim is stunning. AWD is standard on the Signature, and the vehicle also comes with premium leather upholstery, LED accent lights on the exterior, and gorgeous rosewood trim in the cabin. There are interiors on luxury vehicles that can't compare to what you find on the Signature trim.
8. Swift Acceleration
The CX-9's 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission generate a good amount of power. The vehicle gets 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which is good enough to get it from 0 to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds.
9. Reliable Braking
Braking on the CX-9 is truly superior. The CX-9 can make a panic stop from 60 mph in just about 115 feet, which is relatively short for a third-row SUV. The brake feels firm, and you will not have to worry about the vehicle feeling uncontrollable while braking.
10. The Infotainment System
Mazda really outdoes itself with its infotainment system. While Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not included, everything else tends to make up for this. If you opt for the Grand Touring or Signature trim, you will enjoy listening to the crisp sounds produced by the Bose stereo system. Also, the infotainment's interface is incredibly easy-to-use, and everything (including the driver aids) function properly.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2018 Mazda CX-9 – The Cons
1. Ride Gets Rough on Bumpy Roads
While the ride is usually pretty smooth, it does feel a bit too jittery when going over uneven or difficult road surfaces. Medium-sized bumps in the road are surprisingly noticeable, although larger or smaller bumps are rolled over with ease.
2. Automatic Emergency Braking is Touchy
Having automatic emergency braking is nice when it works. It does not always work on the 2018 Mazda CX-9. The low-speed automatic emergency braking that comes standard on lower-level trims is fine, but the optional system (which comes standard on the higher trim levels) is downright finicky. It seems to issue too many false alarms to really feel secure.
3. Not Much Cargo Space
A minor gripe is that the CX-9 lacks the cargo space of many competitors. While you get 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats upright and can maximize it to 71.2 cubic feet with the seats down, this doesn't stack up to what you find on the Honda Pilot.
4. Only One Engine Option
While the sole engine option is pretty powerful, there are other vehicles in this segment that offer more (and somewhat better) engine options. The engine does return good fuel economy, but, again, there are several competitors that outdo it.
How it Stacks up to the Competition:
2018 Mazda CX-9 vs. 2018 Honda Pilot
The 2018 Honda Pilot is an incredibly spacious, comfortable, and safe vehicle. The third-row is big enough for adults, and the cargo area is one of the biggest in its class. The only real downside is that the infotainment system is not user-friendly.
2018 Mazda CX-9 vs. 2018 Ford Explorer
The 2018 Ford Explorer gives a quiet ride while providing plenty of space, even in the third-row. There is an optional V6 turbocharged engine that amps up power for those who want something athletic. However, the Explorer also suffers from a lack of cargo space, only getting a maximum of about 10 cubic feet of space above what the CX-9 offers.
The 2018 Mazda CX-9 is, overall, a family-friendly vehicle that offers a ton of comfort. While a few revisions need to be made for it to truly compete with the Honda Pilot, the CX-9 offers a sense of luxury unseen in other vehicles in its class.
• Why buy a 2017 Mazda CX-9? w/ pros vs cons