This was the first time I had an opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of our long-term 2018 Mazda CX-9 and, based on everyone’s praise, I was excited for the drive. My family of four was heading out for our annual drive from Atlanta to St. Pete Beach in Florida, which is a little over 500 miles and eight hours each way.
Indeed, I must agree with my colleagues, the CX-9 drives extremely well. Most notably, the steering. Not only was it very communicative, but the weight was downright perfect. With a lot of crossovers, I find the on-center weight to be a little too light at highway speeds, which can cause some slight swaying within the lane, but that was not the case here. This was very helpful in fighting fatigue, as there was no need for constant correction.
Another plus: I was never wanting for power. As has been written before, using 93 octane premium fuel nets you an additional 23 horsepower for a total of 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. I never once wished it had a higher displacement 6-cylinder engine, as merging onto the highway from entrance ramps was easy and stress free every single time.
Not So Adaptive
As I have found with several other manufacturers, I found the adaptive cruise control almost unusable when the highway became congested. The problem is that the closest the system lets you get to the vehicle in front of you is far enough away that other cars will continue to fill in the space, thereby making the CX-9 drop speed and fall further and further back, repeatedly.
I was asked by several people if I thought the 2018 Mazda CX-9 could be classified as a luxury vehicle. Although I thought it was close, I found it was lacking some key elements to make that claim. First, the infotainment system is simply below what this excellent vehicle deserves in both usability and display. It is also missing the key component needed for summer driving: ventilated seats. A coveted asset in Florida summer driving, cooled seats are sadly not available in the CX-9. Lastly, although the front seating materials are very nice and appear well-bolstered, I found the seat bottoms too short. Both I and the front passenger complained about seat discomfort after about five hours of driving. Then again, our kids were being cranky on the drive back home, so maybe we were just ready to get the drive over with. Find a Mazda CX-9 for sale
Check out our 2018 Mazda CX-9 New Car Review