By Asian Journal Auto Editor

The new 2020 Mazda CX-9 builds even further on its success with a host of improvements for the new model year. Sleek, sporty and better looking than all its rivals- it looks way more upmarket and expensive than it should with its dramatic front end and sharp silhouette. Major changes for 2020 include: A new G-Vectoring Control Plus system for better exit cornering, some new paint choices for the Signature model and new interior updates across the range. Key additions from 2019 also include: updated Mazda Connect system in the 20209 CX-9 now supports Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. Google Apps are also supported with Show “Ok Google” used for Google Maps, Google Play Music, media, and messaging apps in the car. Making the Mazda Connect integration unique is the use of Mazda’s Commander Knob and buttons.

A 360° View Monitor utilizing four cameras to show the area around the car, on the center display is available on GT and Signature models. GT and Signature models feature an available new 9 inch -inch display that can show a variety of information has been incorporated into the center of the meter. The updated CX-9 features a seven-inch TFT LCD display located in the center of the meter cluster. By displaying a variety of information directly in the driver’s line of sight, it reduces the amount of eye movement required and improves readability.

The Mazda CX-9 is incredibly well priced in the base form for a $39,900, front-wheel-drive GS. With plenty of as standard equipment. For $2,500 extra you can get all-wheel drive. As you move up the model line, even more content is added with GS-L, GT and top-of-the-line Signature model, which firmly rivals Lexus, BMW, and Infiniti models for $51,500, with specific luxury touches.

The 2020 Mazda CX-9  Signature features: i-ACTIV AWD, 20″ alloy wheels, Smart City Brake Support, Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop-and-go, High Beam Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, windshield-projected colour Active Driving Display, 360 View Monitor, 8″ colour touchscreen display with Mazda Connect, HMI Commander, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, SiriusXM Travel Link data services, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats (outboard only), LED headlights with signature lighting, signature grille illumination, power liftgate, front wiper de-icer, navigation system, Nappa leather upholstery with premium stitching detail, wood-trimmed centre console panel and door switch panel, LED interior lighting, frameless rearview mirror

Engine wise, the Signature model is the top dog with its SKYACTIV-G 2.5 T (4-cylinder with Dynamic Pressure Turbo), SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode and Drive Selection switch. The 2.5L turbo   substitutes greater torque for a boosted 227-250 hp with an impressive 310 lb.-ft. of torque available at a low 2,000 rpm. Towing capacity, g is a very good, near top of the class, at— 3,500 pounds.

The Signature models upscale interior features a high quality fit and finish. Plastics and textiles are superbly executed while ergonomics are driver focused. I like the neat, unfussy, dash, instrument layout and controls. The cabin layout provides good headroom and legroom in the first two rows of seats for adults, also new for the Signature line is the second row captain’s chairs.  Meanwhile two-person third row is really a kid’s affair.  As for cargo capacity, the CX-9 offers up 407 litres (14.4 cubic-feet) behind the third row, 1,082 litres (38.2 cu.-ft.) behind the second row and 2,041 litres (72 cu.-ft.) when both rows are folded flat.

On the road, the turbo 2.5L proved plenty smooth with plenty of torque.  With excellent engineering Mazda has overcome the traditional downsides of turbocharged engines — poor performance at low rpm, turbo lag and not so good fuel economy. Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure turbocharging system that  through some typical ingenious Mazda engineering allows the engine to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio over a wider output range  providing usable low-end and mid-range power keep the CX-9 without hesitation or turbo lag. The CX-9, like all Mazda vehicles offers a satisfying sporty performance.

Handling is good, cornering is well controlled thanks to at Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that controls engine drive torque to generate a deceleration G-force, thereby shifting load to the front wheels to increase traction. Not much too complain about, room in the CX-9 is above average in the mid-size crossover class. Overall the CX-9 is a competitive CUV and has great interior luxury and offers excellent features, if you can stretch to the Signature model that has the equipment and luxury of a $70,000 rival you will not be disappointed. Other models in the CX-9 lineup still offer excellent value for the buck. Highly recommended.

2020 Mazda CX-9 priced from $39,900 – $51,900 plus freight and PDE. More info at www.mazda.ca