The Mazda CX-9 brought elegance to the mainstream large SUV market, and a recent update has taken that to the next level with the new top-spec Azami LE. The new luxo flagship adds Nappa leather upholstery and hand-crafted woodgrain trim for a truly premium feel.
The 2017 Wheels Car of the Year set a new standard for the mainstream seven-seat SUV segment – which also includes the Toyota Kluger, Holden Acadia, Skoda Kodiaq, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento – and the Azami LE just set the bar a little higher.
The Mazda CX-9 is available in five grades, Sport, Touring, GT, Azami, and Azami LE, all of which are powered by a gutsy 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with all variants except for the Azami LE available in front- and all-wheel-drive.
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 range is priced as follows:
- CX-9 Sport FWD - $44,990
- CX-9 Sport AWD - $48,990
- CX-9 Touring FWD - $51,390
- CX-9 Touring AWD - $55,390
- CX-9 GT FWD - $59,390
- CX-9 GT AWD - $63,390
- CX-9 Azami FWD - $60,990
- CX-9 Azami AWD - $64,990
- CX-9 Azami LE AWD - $66,490
Spending the extra $1500 over the Azami LE adds the plusher Nappa leather and woodwork to the Azami AWD’s extensive features list, while still keeping its retail price below rival seven-seat SUV range toppers including the Toyota Kluger Grande AWD ($69,617) and Holden Acadia LTZ-V AWD ($67,490).
The price includes everything and the only available options are two special paint colours. That said, Soul Red Crystal and Machine Grey cost just $300 more than the other five colours.
The CX-9’s turbo petrol engine is reasonably efficient considering the Azami LE’s 2.0-tonne mass, with an official combined consumption of 8.8L/100kmm, though that might still seem a little high for anyone getting out of a diesel SUV.
The Mazda CX-9 is covered by Mazda’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Detailed information about the entire CX-9 range can be found in the Mazda CX-9 Range Review
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The Azami LE comes with an extensive equipment list including:
- Six-speed automatic transmission
- Adaptive cruise control
- 8.0-inch infotainment screen with rotary controller
- Android Auto /Apple CarPlay
- Digital radio (DAB+)
- Satellite navigation
- Three-zone climate control
- 360-degree reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Auto-folding powered door mirrors
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Driver attention alert
- Lane-keeping assistance
- Head-up display
- Traffic sign recognition
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
- Windscreen de-icer
- Keyless entry/start
- Power-operated tailgate
- Nappa leather upholstery
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Bose stereo system.
The Mazda CX-9 takes its ‘large SUV’ tag seriously, with its 5.1m length, 1.97m width and 2.93m wheelbase that makes it a little harder to park than, say, the Toyota Kluger which measures 4.89m long by 1.93m wide.
But it’s cavernous inside, with excellent head and knee room, including in the third row that comfortably accommodates two adults.
Boot space with three rows in use is a handy 230 litres, with the third-row seats offering a 50:50 split to add extra cargo. Folding the entire third row down brings a considerable 810 litres behind the 60:40 split second row seats. With all rear seats down, the CX-9 will hold up to 1641 litres behind the front seats.
The CX-9’s size and strong body structure with side-impact door beams combine with six airbags to protect occupants well in the event of an accident, though you have a decent chance of avoiding that with autonomous emergency braking that operates at speeds up to 160km/h.
Other active safety features include lane-keeping assist, driver attention alert, rear-cross traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring that can spot a car about to overtake you swiftly from up to 50 metres behind.
The CX-9 is also equipped with roll stability control, that mitigates the chance of a rollover, and trailer stability assistance which acts to minimise trailer sway when towing, while parking is made safer with a 360-degree camera view and front- and rear-parking sensors.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda CX-9 its maximum five stars for safety, in July 2016.
The Azami LE takes the CX-9’s acclaimed comfort levels a step further with the premium Nappa leather upholstery that makes it feel like a more expensive European SUV.
The spacious cabin feels welcoming with plenty of leg and elbow room in the first two rows, and the front seats gain additional creature comforts including powered settings and seat heating and ventilation.
Second-row passengers benefit from raised seating that affords excellent forward and side vision, separate climate control panel and vents, and a fold-down centre arm rest comprising two cupholders and two USB sockets.
The third-row seats are roomier than most of the CX-9’s rivals, and will accommodate two average-sized adults comfortably over moderate distances. Legroom can be altered sliding the second row forward and there’s a sufficient gap under the seat in which to slide your feet. The wide rear door opening means you don’t need to be a contortionist to climb in or out of the third row.
The coupe-like roofline sacrifices the ability to install separate air vents in the third-row, however the second-row vents do a good job of heating or cooling all the way to the back.
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The interior is well put together with quality materials including soft-touch plastics, chrome brightwork and woodgrain trim, while the presentation of the instruments and controls is both classy and intuitive.
Ride comfort is also excellent, with supple but well-controlled suspension that glides over bumps, tyre, wind and engine noise is blocked out so effectively you’d be forgiven for thinking the CX-9 has double glazing.
ON THE ROAD
The CX-9’s size and AWD traction helps it feel incredibly well planted on the road.
It’s surprisingly nimble too, with slick steering and multi-link rear suspension that provides an excellent compromise between comfort and handling, even on the bigger the 20-inch wheels.
The 2.5-litre petrol turbo engine responds well at all speeds and even has a sporty note when at the upper reaches. It’s a lively engine that teams well with the six-speed automatic to give the CX-9 a surprising turn of speed and overtaking ability.
Its size and 2.0-tonne heft is more evident when braking, with the pedal feeling a little spongy when coming to a stop from highway speeds.
The AWD system is excellent on gravel, muddy or snowy roads, but the low ground clearance and sporty wheels aren’t conducive to very rough tracks.
For owners with a trailer or caravan, the Mazda CX-9 Azami LE has a 2000kg braked towing capacity.
The Mazda CX-9 Azami LE doesn’t just feel premium, it is premium.
It drives well, feels stately and ticks all the boxes for anyone seeking a sophisticated family SUV, while being priced less than entry-level luxury branded seven-seaters lacking similar levels of safety and comfort as standard.
The extra $1500 isn’t too much extra to pay over the Azami – the Nappa leather and hand-crafted woodgrain both looks and feels good and you’ll be glad you spent a little more when it comes to resale time.