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For those who need the space offered by a three-row SUV but are not ready to give up on a sleek, stylish vehicle, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 may be ideal. This vehicle has a lot going on for it, making it a smart buy for a wide variety of consumers. Still, no SUV is perfect, and the CX-9's flaws may be considered deal-breakers for some. Considering how crowded the SUV market is, it is also very important to compare this vehicle to similar ones.
What's New for 2020?
Many new standard and available features can be found for the 2020 Mazda CX-9. A new suite of safety aids, known as iActivsense, has become standard on all trim levels. All but the entry-level trim also now give buyers a 9-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Last year, the largest touchscreen available was 8-inches. Those who go with the top-of-the-line Signature trim can now choose either Deep Chestnut or Parchment Nappa leather for their upholstery. On the outside, this trim can now have a Soul Red Crystal paint job. Going with the Touring trim and adding the Premium package now means getting second row captain's chairs. These chairs are standard for the Grand Touring and Signature trim levels.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2020 Mazda CX-9 – The Pros
1. Standard iActivsense Technology
By far the most exciting change for the 2020 Mazda CX-9 is the inclusion of the iActivsense suite of tech features on all models. Within this suite are the most popular driver aids out there today. Buyers will get lane-departure warning, automatic headlights, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitor featuring rear-cross traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist. These standard features are part of the reason the CX-9 earned a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2. The Signature Trim Level
The ultimate version of the CX-9 goes by the Signature name. Consumers who are after luxury and sophistication will definitely want to check this trim out. It comes standard with premium leather interior. This trim will also give drivers standard all-wheel-drive and eye-catching exterior LED accent lighting. This is in addition to the best features from prior trims, such as a premium audio system, a heated steering wheel, and heated seats for the first and second rows.
3. Zippy Yet Efficient Engine
In a world where most three-row SUVs rely on V6 engines, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 manages to provide a thrilling experience with a turbocharged four-cylinder. When using premium fuel, this engine can provide drivers with 250-horsepower as well as 320 lb-ft of torque. The amount of torque is up from last year. It results in even quicker acceleration, further adding to the thrill of the CX-9. Plus, buyers can expect to get an impressive 28 mpg when hitting the highway and 22mpg in the city with front-wheel-drive. Deciding to go with all-wheel-drive will only drop these numbers down by two. These are considered very good numbers for a vehicle of this size.
4. Great Handling
Yet another reason consumers will want to make sure to test drive the 2020 Mazda CX-9 is the nimble handling offered by this vehicle. Although this vehicle has room for up to seven, its zippy acceleration and sharp handling help it feel more like a sports car than a three-row SUV. Drivers will find that it is easy to feel confident while behind the wheel of this vehicle. Models equipped with the 18-inch wheels are especially responsive.
5. Beautiful Exterior Design
It can be hard to stand out in the saturated SUV market. The 2020 Mazda CX-9 manages to, however, thanks to its sleek lines and lack of sharp corners. This SUV is designed in a way that it looks smaller than it actually is. At the end of the day, the CX-9 is one of the most attractive crossover SUVs currently available.
6. Mazda Connect Infotainment Features
New for this year is a 9-inch touchscreen to run the Mazda Connect system on the Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature trim levels. These trims now also have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it simple for drivers to access their favorite playlists, apps, and maps. The controls are set up in a way that makes them easy to access without losing focus on the road. Drivers who go with the Sport trim level still get an attractive 7-inch touchscreen.
7. Available Predictive i-Active AWD
Designed to increase the performance of the 2020 Mazda CX-9 in all weather conditions, i-Active AWD predicts traction loss. This allows it to send extra torque to the wheels that need it most, making sure the driver keeps as much control as possible at all times. Working with this technology is also the available Off-road Traction Assist feature. This is designed to optimize torque distribution is a wide variety of settings, allowing drivers to explore with confidence.
8. High Class Interior Features
All four trim levels of the 2020 Mazda CX-9 have high-quality materials and an attractive design. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard across the board, with heat being added at the Grand Touring level. Soft-touch plastic is expertly used in combination with brushed aluminum and graining. The top-of-the-line Signature line even has genuine rosewood trim. Everyone stays comfortable in the cabin thanks to the standard tri-zone automatic climate control.
9. Available Foot-Activated Liftgate
The customizable foot-activated liftgate can greatly simplify life for drivers. How high the gate lifts when activated can even be customized. This is great for those who do not want to reach up too high to close it. It can also be useful for those with low ceilings in their garage or carport. The foot-activated feature is standard for the Grand Touring and Signature trim levels. Going with the Touring trim level gives consumers a standard power-liftgate that still has the programmable height option.
10. Well-Equipped Entry-Level Model
For many vehicles, drivers have to move halfway up the trim ladder before they find the features they are after. This is not the case for the 2020 Mazda CX-9 and its impressive entry-level Sport trim. Going with this model means getting standard Bluetooth, LED headlights, two USB ports, and a six-speaker sound system. Plus, this year sees this trim getting many driver aids that other vehicles do not offer on entry-level trims, such as adaptive cruise control.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2020 Mazda CX-9 – The Cons
1. Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Admittedly, the transmission for the 2020 Mazda CX-9 has a smooth-shifting and efficient transmission. Only having six forward gears, however, is somewhat dated. Most vehicles have moved on to continuously variable transmissions or ones with eight, nine, or even ten gears. Performance is not impacted terribly, however, and consumers may find themselves not caring about this potential flaw.
2. Cramped Third Row
Those who regularly need to use the third-row of this vehicle may find themselves a bit frustrated. It is not very easy to access if the vehicle is not equipped with the second-row captain's chairs. Plus, the space back there is only appropriate for smaller kids. Consumers who will only occasionally need their third row will still find the CX-9 to be a great option.
3. Limited Cargo Area
Cargo space is not a strong suit for the 2020 Mazda CX-9, which falls behind most competitors in this area. This is a drawback associated with the sleek exterior styling. Still, drivers who do not need the third row for their grocery shopping trips will find it easy to fold it down and make room for their bags.
4. Low Towing Capacity
The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds. This is considered low in comparison to many of its main competitors. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, for example, can tow up to 7,400 pounds when properly equipped. The Ford Explorer can tow 5,000 pounds, which is closer to average for this vehicle class.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
One of the main competitors for the Mazda CX-9 is the Honda Pilot. Although this vehicle is a little roomier, it cannot compete with the CX-9 when it comes to performance. The handling and turbocharged engine simply make it much more engaging to drive. Drivers also get a lot more torque from the CX-9. At the same time, the CX-9 is considerably more fuel-efficient than the Honda Pilot. Drivers may also consider the Hyundai Santa Fe. This vehicle costs a bit less, but again offers less torque and fuel efficiency than the CX-9. Although the Ford Explorer may win against the CX-9 when it comes to towing, drivers will find they are stopping at the gas pumps far more frequently if they choose it. That, plus the smaller amount of torque, make the CX-9 the smarter choice. When looking at both fuel economy and vehicle responsiveness, the Mazda is an obvious winner.
Buyers who crave a comfortable vehicle with great performance stats will be overall satisfied with the 2020 Mazda CX-9. While it may not be spacious enough for all families, many consumers will find the amount of room to be more than adequate. Ultimately, the CX-9 is a smart buy that has far more pros than cons.
• Why buy a 2019 Mazda CX-9? w/ pros vs cons