The brains behind Mazda’s 2020 CX-9 is the SKYACTIV, a suite of technologies that improves handling, fuel efficiency, and performance. The tagline for the Mazda CX-9 is “Driving Matters,” to convey its comfort and roominess for moving large families around town in style, as a mid-sized SUV with three-rows and six to seven seats.
The largest vehicle in Mazda’s fleet, the 2020 CX-9, covers a full range of features and prices in the midsize SUV class. It starts with the base sports model from $33,890 MSRP, which competes with the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander; up to the near-luxury Signature CX-9 that starts around $46,215 and approaches the ride and feel of a premium luxury SUV.
The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is available in four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. They are all powered by Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 227 horsepower and 310 bl-ft of torque on regular fuel, or 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft with premium gas. All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission that comes in either front- or four-wheel drive (AWD), except for the Signature, which only comes in AWD. The FWD version is about $2,000 less than AWD.
Mazda’s engine technology is called SKYACTIV-G and gets better fuel efficiency and more power out of the traditional aspirated gasoline combustion engine. The technology works by compressing the air-fuel mixture through the cylinders, which uses less fuel to generate more energy.
The turbo response from Mazda’s four-cylinder engine in the CX-9 Signature was quick and smooth, compared to many of its six-cylinder rivals in the midsize SUV class. Fuel savings also makes the CX-9 more competitive. The four-cylinder engine is robust and averages 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
The top-of-line 2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD with the SKYACTIV-Drive handled superbly in the sports mode on the streets and highway. It includes the six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission that also improves the fuel economy and the torque transmission by combining the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), dual-clutch automated manual transmission, and standard automatic transmission.
Mazda’s SKYACTIV-Drive system is continuously monitoring the road conditions, weather, acceleration, and steering to determine when to send power to the front or rear wheels or to engage AWD when more traction is needed. The AWD system also has an Off-Road mode.
Another component of SKYACTIV is Vehicle Dynamics. This integrated system monitors the behavior of the driver and road conditions to improve handling by applying the brakes and torque to the wheels when needed. It continuously monitors the engine, transmission, body, and chassis to provide more stability and response.
Luxury materials and equipment emanate inside the cabin. It has real Santos Rosewood inlays throughout the interior, high-quality Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain seats, a rear power liftgate, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 9-inch touchscreen display.
The exterior of the CX-9 Signature stands out, as well, against the other models with distinctive badging, more LED lights, and accent lighting on the grille. Rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic high beams are now standard on all 2020 Mazda CX-9 models.
Standard safety features include a 360-degree camera view, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and departure warning.