After taking out our Car of the Year award last year, my first thought was that it would be hard to make any real improvement on such an impressive offering.
To check out the little tweaks for myself Mazda threw me the keys to a top-spec 2018 Mazda CX-9 Azami.
Well, they’ve redesigned the way middle-row seat slides and tilts and this is aimed at helping you gain easier access to the third-row seats.
As the image shows, mission accomplished. The access space is now more than adequate for the people (who are normally children) to slide into seats six and seven.
So that was a good improvement, another change back there was the addition of a second top tether point for the third-row seats.
This allows child/booster seats to be fitted to all three middle-row seats and both third-row seats.
Another change that relates to the interior is the addition of more sound-deadening material – we had thought it was already a quiet and refined vehicle, now it is even more so.
G-Vectoring control has also been added and this is generally something you will only experience in more extreme driving situations, such as maneuvering at speed on wet roads.
I have had a good experience using the vehicle control technology in the past, check out why I think its a great addition here.
And autonomous emergency braking now works at up to 80km/h, rather than the previous 30km/h – fortunately I didn’t have to experience this tech during my week in the vehicle!
Some other general observations that generally come up in regards to this vehicle.
Firstly, its great to see that digital radio has been added – this was something I felt was lacking the last time I drove it.
The fuel economy this time around was a little higher – I averaged 13.1L/100km and that was driving around in the city/suburbs predominantly in ‘normal’, not ‘sport’ mode.
It’s comfy and practical.
You may be attracted to the big Mazda seven-seat SUV by its very refined road manners and extremely well-finished and comfortable interior.
Some other highlights worth mentioning again are the well-sized storage areas, and very good legroom all round.
While some buyers might be turned off by the forward 3/4 visibility – again, the ‘A’ pillars are very chunky and do create some blind spots.
And again, taller drivers might find the centre console hard/intrusive for their left leg (as I always do in the CX-9).
Summing it up: The 2018 Mazda CX-9 welcomes some handy little tweaks and additions and the redesigned middle-row functionality is a real winner.
There isn’t much not to like about the new-gen Mazda CX-9 and it is nothing short of a must-drive proposition if a seven-seat SUV is on your shopping list.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Mazda CX-9
- Engine: 2.5 litre turbo-petrol producing 170kW/420Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $42,490 (azami from $60,790)