In November we had the opportunity to drive the 2018 Mazda CX-9 GT with Mazda du Boulevard in Saint-Hyacinthe, QC. A few changes were made for the 2018 model year, mostly with the equipment offerings at different trim levels, a normalization process that Mazda Canada has been going through with this year's vehicles. The CX-9 also got front parking sensors and additional power seat movement for the front passenger. We still don't have the power folding mirrors that are offered on European models, but perhaps next year.
The GT is a very well loaded model, but the Signature adds a few extra goodies that you can't get on any other Mazda vehicle at this time. The seats are all upgraded to chroma brown nappa leather, rosewood trim is added to the centre console and front door window switch bezels, and the front grille gets Mazda's Signature Grille illumination, which adds an LED bar around the top of the bottom lip adding a unique front look to this mid-size crossover SUV.
All-in with our Snowflake White Pearl paint job the MSRP for this 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature was $51,300.00, putting it at the top end of Mazda's current vehicle lineup, but also into the price-range of the premium mid-size crossover market. In fact we feel the CX-9 Signature can compete against the premium crossovers like the Infiniti QX60, Acura MDX, and Buick Enclave, but offer more bang for your buck at the lower price point. We have a full episode of TestDrive Showdown on these vehicles coming out later this week, so stay tuned for that.
Overall though we were very impressed with the ride, handling, and performance of the CX-9 Signature. We had more time with it over the GT we drove, and really got to learn how this vehicle is to live with. The smaller engine isn't necessarily a downside especially if you aren't planning on towing anything with this vehicle. We found the 2.5L turbocharged SKYACTIV-G engine to be more than powerful to get us onto the highways and to pass slower traffic, without the need of a larger engine. Fuel economy was also pretty good around 12.7L/100km average during our week with this vehicle.
Since we're a family of 3, the rear row seats really weren't used, at least not for sitting in. We did test the space back there and even someone of my size was able to fit with the centre row seats moved up slightly, and that's one of the benefits of this vehicle over some other crossovers. The centre row can be moved forward to allow for more legroom for the rear passengers, while still providing ample space for the centre row. Getting in and out of either row was easy enough for me, but also for our 4 year old daughter. Those side window shades are also great for children to help block out the unwanted sun so they can sleep on long trips, or just enjoy the darker light created with the shades.
However it does get a bit dark in that rear row due to the lack of a rear sunroof or panoramic moonroof. We believe that all the other mid-size crossover SUVs available in North America have the option for a rear sunroof at the very least, making Mazda the sole manufacturer at this time that doesn't, at least when it comes to vehicles we've reviewed here on TestDrive. That could certainly be a deal breaker for some, but we are hoping for this option to be made available come 2019.
But aside from that, we truly enjoyed the CX-9 Signature. It provides a number of fantastic features, like Mazda's colour heads-up display, a large 8" touch screen, and that gorgeous rosewood trim that truly looks like it was hand-crafted for each car. The HUD and rear window shades are rather unique across the premium mid-size crossover market, so that allows Mazda to offer something over the competition. The design is also one of the best, having an aggressive front end without being offensive. The overall proportions of the CX-9 worked great for us, and shows that Mazda is on the right track with their current design language.
This is definitely a vehicle we'd like to own, and if you need more space over the offerings of the smaller CX-5 you'll definitely want to add this to your list of considerations. You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature below: