Long-Term Review

2018 Mazda CX-9: Road Trip to Mississippi

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author photo by Tommy Flanagan June 2018

For my summer road trip home to Mississippi, I took our long-term 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature along for the ride. I've driven it in and around Atlanta and fell in love with its great looks and plush interior. So when I was offered the keys to the CX-9 for my trip home, I jumped at the chance to hit the open road and put in some serious drive time. My concern is, does the CX-9 perform as well on the highway as it does in the city? Let's get behind the wheel and find out.

Road Manners

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 comes standard with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine good for 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That number jumps to 250 hp if you use premium fuel. This engine is mated exclusively to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Don't let the low horsepower figure fool you. The CX-9 never felt underpowered, even when getting up to highway speed or passing slower traffic. And with maximum torque at only 2,000 rpm, you've got plenty of power when you need it for merging onto the highway from an off-ramp or when climbing steep grades. The CX-9 is fairly quick with a 0-to-60 time of only 7.2 seconds.

Out on the open road, one of the first things I noticed is how quiet the cabin is. Road noise is minimal and there's little to no wind noise to disturb the quiet ride. Mazda claims part of the reason for the peaceful ride is due to sound-insulating glass and over 50 pounds of sound-deadening in the floorboard alone. It certainly doesn't go unnoticed by this driver.

I'm also amazed at the ride quality. It can be a bit stiff on rough pavement, but overall, the CX-9 handles the road's imperfections quite well. Steering is also light and responsive. And with all-wheel drive, the CX-9 feels sure-footed, even on wet roads.

Our CX-9 comes with several amenities that make a long road trip more enjoyable. For starters, the adaptive cruise control is one of the best I've experienced. It's extremely smooth when matching speeds of slower traffic and doesn't brake suddenly when approaching slower drivers like other systems I've experienced. The Active Driving Display also helps keep my eyes on the road by displaying current speed, route guidance from the navigation and safety features like blind spot monitoring and lane departure right in my line of sight.

During my drive home, the CX-9 averaged 23.6 to 26.1 miles per gallon with 95 percent highway driving. A tank of gas was good for the 359-mile trip.

A Few Bumps in the Road

There are a few annoyances with the CX-9. The engine can be a bit noisy getting up to highway speed. However, once up to speed, the drone tends to go away. The CX-9 is also little lacking in some of the techie features I like to have. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. And the infotainment system could use some reworking. For one thing, it takes too many steps to change radio stations. Also, the navigation system was a source of frustration. It could only find directions for one of three places I wanted to go.

The Verdict

I'm really impressed with our long-term Mazda CX-9. After spending a week behind the wheel, I've concluded that it's pretty hard to beat for performance, comfort and overall driveability. My trip home was quite enjoyable thanks to the CX-9. I really hated to have to give the keys back upon my return. I'm hoping to get a lot more drive time with the CX-9 for other summer road trips I have planned.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Mazda CX-9: Road Trip to Mississippi - Autotrader