Mercedes With A Mazda Price Tag? The 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature.
The automotive landscape is a rapidly changing place.  Case in point, the Mazda CX-9.  We raved about it in 2011, but almost a year and a half ago, found the 2015 model (the same as the '11, with some minor modifications) was no longer one of the most compelling vehicles in its class.

That matters in a Mazda more than in most cars because Mazda is all about driving.  You know, zoom-zoom and all of that.  The new MX-5 Miata is number one on the list of TireKicker's Best Cars on the right hand side of this page.  A few slots below it is the Mazda 6 sedan.  The Mazda CX-5 is our choice among midsize crossovers, perhaps the most crowded, hotly contested segment in the market today.

Now, there's a new CX-9.  So how is it?

Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda CX-9
2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature.
Well, at least in top-of-the-line Signature trim like our tester, it's nothing short of amazing. And the goodness isn't all about the luxo stuff in the Signature.  It's design, detail and function that runs through any trim level of the new CX-9 The new design incorporates Mazda's more aggressive styling on a scale that makes the CX-9 truly imposing visually.

Interior view of 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature
2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature interior.
Inside, the dress-to-impress theme continues, with sleek, elegant, yet substantial design.  In the Signature model, it's Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery and auburn-colored interior accents.   There's also an astonishingly long list of standard equipment.

And on the road, the story gets even better.  The previous generation's 3.7-liter V6 may have made 273 horsepower, but it also drank gas at a pace that put it out of touch with the modern world (17 city/24 highway).  The 2016 has an all-new engine, which comes with whichever of the four trim levels (Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature) of CX-9 you choose.  It's a 2.5-liter turbo that packs less horsepower (250) but a healthy dose of torque (310 pounds per foot).  And though it looks large and impressive, the 2016 CX-9 weighs 250 pounds less than the 2015.  So performance actually improves.  As does the fuel economy, which is now an EPA-estimated 21 city/27 highway...a significant improvement.

CX-9s start at $33,320, but going all the way with the Signature model requires a $44,015 commitment.  Our tester had just one option...the Machine Gray paint for $300, so bottom line with $900 delivery, processing and handling fee was $45,215. A co-worker of mine and her husband just bought one.  Their verdict:  "It's like a Mercedes.  But with a Mazda price tag."  And they own a Mercedes, too.