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Mazda CX-9


Ford Everest

Summary

Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is Mazda's big, SUV flagship and it has been updated with more cool tech, better safety features, better handling and real wood. Yup, you read that right: real wood. There's also been a price rise on this seven-seater.

You did know it was a seven-seater, right?  And not all seven-seat SUVs are the same. There are off-road capable ones which can be as uncomfortable as a tank on city streets. Then there are those that feel like giant, cushy lounge rooms that handle like a ship really and are just big cars so you better not take them off road. There are others which say they're seven-seaters but in reality those extra two seats in the third row are just for kids – and even then you'd only put your least favourite ones back there. So, what's the Mazda CX-9 then?

That's what this review is all about and by the end of it you'll know if this new Mazda CX-9 the right seven-seater for you.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating7 seats

Ford Everest

Update:

Since we first published this story on August 24, 2018, there have been some changes to the Ford Everest range, including the entry-level Everest Ambiente (RWD and 4WD variants) getting advanced driver-assist safety systems, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, at no extra cost. 

The Ambiente also now gets lane-keep assist with driver alert, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beams. That's all in addition to the line-up's reversing camera, rear parking sensors, roll-over mitigation, trailer sway control and more.

The 4WD Ambiente also gets hill descent control, hill launch assist and an electronically locking rear differential.

In other Everest news, the top-shelf 2.0-litre twin-turbo Everest Titanium 4WD has dropped in price to $72,290 so it now avoids the luxury car tax.

Changes are rumored to be coming soon for the Ford Ranger range – perhaps towards the end of 2019 – and those changes may also materialise in the next update of the Everest line-up.

Stay tuned for more Ford Everest news. 

As originally published August 24, 2018:

Change is good but there will always be some who become enraged at the mere hint of it. Case in point: those who strongly dislike 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engines. 

In February this year, when just such an engine was revealed as the powerplant of choice for Ford’s high-performance ute, the Ranger Raptor, CarsGuide comments, online chat rooms and beer gardens everywhere echoed with acid-tongued complaint and hearty objections that included such pearls of wisdom as “The only good two litres are milk and orange juice”.

Well, it looks like some of us have a bitter pill to swallow because that 2.0-litre engine is now in the new, refreshed MY19 Everest, Ford’s large SUV wagon, as well – and it’s here to stay. But don’t fret because the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine remains in the Everest ranks.

In other good news, the 2019 Everest has AEB.

Any bad news? Maybe. Read on.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.1L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Mazda CX-98/10

The previous CX-9 was excellent and now the new one fills in many of the gaps which were missing such as the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the safety tech standard across all grades and great ride and handling. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better large seven-seater all-rounder without stepping into the $100K prestige territory.

The Touring is the sweet spot in the CX-9 with its leather seats, 8.0-inch display and good price.

Is there anything Mazda has missed with its CX-9? Or is this SUV almost as good as it gets at this price? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Ford Everest8/10

Originally built off the Ranger platform, the Everest has always been overshadowed by its overachieving ute stablemate. But now, with the introduction of AEB and some up-speccing to its Everest line-up, Ford has ensured its large SUV wagon is still a strong contender in the race for top honours in the market.

The line-up's volume seller is the Trend and that's still a pretty good sweet spot for the range.

Most of us don’t want a big, shouty 4WD, but we do expect a lot in our new vehicles: we want a quiet, refined family-friendly SUV that drives well, has plenty of safety tech, car-like ride and handling, and good fuel consumption. In its Everest, Ford has come pretty close to producing one of the best around. If only the Titanium's price-tag wasn't so high.

Is the Everest's 2.0-litre twin-turbo the way of the future or a misstep? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Design

Mazda CX-98/10

Nothing has changed to the exterior of the CX-9 in this 2018 update – but that's a good thing, because this is a striking and beautifully styled SUV. More a tall, sleek wagon than upright boxy SUV, there's that in-your-face grille, the long nose the set-back cabin and the hatchback rear end. The only element which irks me are the taillights – they seem a bit small for that big bottom.

All CX-9s look almost identical on the outside, but you can tell the higher grades form their larger-sized wheels and LED fog lights.

There's not much in the way of a body kit, but there is that subtle roof top spoiler, that sculpted front bumper and the little shark fin antenna.

The cabin is a premium feeling place (have a look at the images) – this is Mazda flagship after all. Materials feel soft to touch even on the dash and door sills back and front, while there's a high-quality fit and finish throughout. With big interior dimensions this is also a roomy place, despite that sloping roofline.

The Azami LE is by far the most decadent grade with its nappa leather upholstery and real wood trim. Mazda was not able to tell me what type of wood has been used and could only go as far as confirming it was real wood, however, in the United States the top-grade CX-9, known as the Signature, uses a similar looking material and officially calls it rosewood.

Mazda also told me that the adhesives and materials used in the cabin were also chosen to minimise bad smells – not from the people in it but from the leather's plastics and glues. If only all car companies would care enough to do this – some new car smells make my eyes water.

At almost 5.1 metres long, nearly 2.0m wide and getting onto 1.8m tall you'll need a pretty big garage to house the CX-9.


Ford Everest8/10

Nothing much to report here. The Everest has always had substantial presence and nothing has changed in that respect; it’s a good-looking unit.

Among the styling tweaks are a new grille design, revised bumper and fascia design, halogen projector headlights with halogen daytime-running lights, a laminated acoustic windscreen, a 10-speaker audio system, as well as an 'Ebony' interior colour scheme with contrast stitching and chrome highlights.

If there’s any potential strife to the interior look and feel here, it may be that it’s too neat and tidy – too plain – and in danger of becoming a bit dated.

The Titanium has new 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels.

Practicality

Mazda CX-98/10

There are a stack of reasons to buy a seven-seater. You may have a big family and really need the third row, or you're just a small family that likes to pack a truck-load of gear for holidays while having a couple of extra seats just in case you're put on the spot after picking the kids up from karate and end up with more ninjas to drop home.

There are other seven-seaters where those third-row seats are just a bonus – the Santa Fe is a bit like that, but SUVs such as the CX-9, Kluger and Sorento offer much better room back there.

Even at 191cm tall I can sit in the third row comfortably, with just enough head and legroom. That said, I wouldn't want to be there for an epic road trip, but it's fine for kids and shorter adults.

Legroom in the second row is excellent – I can sit behind my driving position with about 10cm of space between my knees and the seat back – headroom isn't as generous as the Kluger or Sorento but there's still plenty, even for me.

If you're lifting babies and children into car seats you may find that coupe styling to the roofline makes the process a little harder – it did for me with our little one.

Also, this SUV is fairly high up. I've had my toddler do a face plant falling out of one while trying to climb in. Oh, don't judge me.

Entry into the third row is made easier by a 60:40 folding second row on rails. It's also good to see that the smaller foldable section is on the curb side of the car.

The CX-9's boot space with the third row down is outstanding at 810 litres (VDA) – the Kluger can only manage 529 litres and even with those back seats in place the luggage capacity is 230 litres, check out my video above where I demonstrate the size with a live human being.

Storage in the cabin is also excellent with six cupholders (two in the first row, two in second and the others in the third) and all grades above the Sport come with storage in the fold-down centre armrest, which also contains a USB port.

All CX-9s come with a USB port up front in the giant split-opening centre console bin and a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area.


Ford Everest8/10

Inside is nice and roomy. It’s also well blended together; chrome, leather accents, as well as clear, easy-to-read instrument displays and colourful Sync3 screen. Nice, small touches, such as the illuminated blue edging around USB ports, add to the cabin’s premium feel.

The front seats are very comfortable and electrically adjustable; the third row can be deployed or stowed away by using buttons on the right-hand rear interior wall of the cargo area.

Those in the front are well catered for with access to two 12-volt sockets, and two USB ports.

Storage spaces include glovebox, two cup holders and a deep bin between driver and front passenger, and bottle holders in each door.

Second-row passengers get a pair of pop-out cupholders in the arm-rest, and can control aircon temp and fan speed, as well as open or close air vents, and use a 230-volt or 12-volt socket from their seat.

There are two ISOFIX anchor points in the second row and the cargo area has bag hooks each side, as well as luggage tie-down points on the floor.

Price and features

Mazda CX-98/10

The Mazda CX-9's price has gone up but you're getting more features in return – and that goes for all grades in the range. Also, there's now a new grade and king of the Mazda CX-9 range – the Azami LE. Right, let's get into the details.

The most affordable CX-9 is the Sport at $44,990 (an $1100 increase) for the front-wheel drive version and another $4000 for all-wheel drive. Coming standard on the Sport for the first time is a head-up display and being introduced to the CX-9 range finally is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other standard features include a 7.0-inch screen with sat nav, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, digital radio, three-zone climate control, LED headlights, black cloth seats and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The Touring grade sits above the Sport and is arguably the best value with its list price of $51,390  ($1100 increase) for the front-wheel drive and again $4000 more for the AWD. In addition to the Sport's features, the Touring comes standard with black leather seats (power adjustable and heated in the front), an 8.0-inch touch screen, proximity key, front parking sensors and LED fog lights.

The GT grade is getting into pricier territory with the front-wheel drive listing for $59,390 (an increase of $1000) and $4000 more for AWD, but along with all of the Touring's features it has a power tailgate, sunroof, 20-inch alloy wheels and heated second-row window seats.

The once-king-of-the-range Azami lists for $60,990 in FWD form (an increase of $4200), again $4000 for the AWD, but now there's a level above it – the Azami LE which is $66,490 and only available as an all-wheel drive.

What's the difference between them? Well let's start with what's the same. Both come with the GT's features plus adaptive LED headlights, heated steering wheel, a 360-degree view monitor, ventilated front seats, windscreen de-icer and a 7.0-inch centre digital instrument cluster.

What the Azami LE gets that the Azami doesn't is real wood trim panels on the centre console, nappa leather seats, box stitching on the steering wheel and different overhead console styling.

As a model comparison you could also take a look at the Toyota Kluger which ranges from about $45K to $70K. There's also the Kia Sorento which ranges from $43K-$60K and I'm going to throw in the Hyundai Santa Fe – it's not as big as the CX-9, but the new one is larger than the previous model and it's a seven-seater, too.


Ford Everest8/10

The Everest range remains a three-model line-up: entry-level Ambiente, mid-spec and volume seller Trend, and top-spec Titanium.

The new twin-turbo diesel engine and 10-speed auto combination is an option on Trend and standard on Titanium. Ambiente continues with the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine and six-speed auto.

One of the other more notable new features in the range is 'Inter-Urban Autonomous Emergency Braking' (AEB) with 'Pedestrian Detection' and 'Vehicle Detection', which is now standard across the Trend and Titanium; it will become standard on Ambiente in 2019.

Keyless entry and push-button start are now standard across the range, and Trend and Titanium get Ford’s hands-free power tailgate.


Other standard features include reversing camera, rear parking sensors, 'SYNC 3' with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8.0-inch full-colour touchscreen and reversing camera.

Also new to the Trend are leather-accented seat trim, eight-way power driver's seat and a leather-trimmed gear shifter.

All Ambiente models are five-seaters no matter which drivetrain they have – rear-wheel or 4WD – but they can be optioned up with a third row for $1000.

All prices to follow exclude on-road costs.

Everest Ambiente pricing is: RWD 3.2L (five seats) $49,190; 3.2L RWD (seven seats) $50,190; 3.2L 4WD (five seats) $54,190; and Ambiente 4WD 3.2L (seven seats) $55,190.

Everest Trend pricing is: RWD Bi-Turbo $56,190; 4WD 3.2L $59,990; and 4WD Bi-Turbo $61,190.

The Ford Everest Titanium is only available as a 4WD with the twin-turbo engine and 10-speed auto at a cost of $73,990, including luxury car tax. We spent the lion’s share of our time at the launch in a Titanium so we’ll focus on that variant.

On top of a full complement of standard features and a suite of driver-assist tech, the Titanium now has 20-inch alloy wheels, a 3100kg-rated towbar and a leather-trimmed handbrake.

The new exterior prestige paint is Diffused Silver for $780.

The 2019 Everest is due in showrooms this month.

Engine & trans

Mazda CX-97/10

All CX-9s have the same engine – it's a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol that makes 170kW and 420Nm. That's simple isn't it? Also simple is this: all CX-9 have the same six-speed automatic transmission.

Every grade apart from the Azami LE comes with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Azami LE is purely all-wheel drive.


Ford Everest8/10

The new-generation twin-turbo engine – 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm from 1750rpm-2000rpm – is paired with a 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, the same combination as used in Ford’s high-performance models, Mustang and Raptor. 

But this working partnership is a better match here, in the Everest, than it is in the Raptor, in terms of smooth delivery of power and torque at low and high speeds, as well as doing everything in an unfussed manner – low-key but still effective. 

As mentioned, the previous-gen 3.2-litre 143kW/470Nm five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto is still offered in Ambiente and Trend, ensuring those who prefer their engines bigger are catered for.
The Titanium has full-time 4WD with low-range gearing ('4x4 Low') and electronic diff lock, as well as a 'Terrain Management System' with four driving modes (Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand and Rock) to suit different terrain. 

Fuel consumption

Mazda CX-98/10

Big car, big drinker? The CX-9 used to be back when it had a V6, but not any more. The turbo-four is efficient, with Mazda saying that front-wheel drive version will use 8.4L/100km, while all-wheel drives will use 8.8L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. You'll also only need to feed it 91 RON – that's the cheap petrol.

My testing on the launch saw me use 10.3L/100km, according to the car's trip computer, but I was really getting into those roads and stamping on that accelerator like it was a funnel web spider, so for it still to be that low is great.


Ford Everest8/10

Best-of-the-bunch 2.0-litre fuel consumption is listed as 6.9L/100km (combined) in the Trend RWD, and 7.1L/100km (combined) in the 4WD. We noted an average of 9.8L/100km on the dash but there may have been some heavy right foot involved in prompting that figure.

The Everest has an 80-litre fuel tank.

Driving

Mazda CX-98/10

There is no way to make a 5.1m long, 2.0m wide, two-tonne SUV feel small in a supermarket car park and you'll feel its size particularly in multi-storey ones as you navigate the HMAS CX-9 up through the levels. I've lived with a CX-9 and I'm not ashamed to admit that I find it tricky to manoeuvre in tight spaces. But you have AEB, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors at the back and good visibility to make it as easy as it possibly can be.

Get the CX-9 out on the street, though, and it feels a lot less cumbersome. And on the open road the CX-9 is brilliant. Not only does it just much up miles in comfort, it has such great handling ability that it defies my logic.

In this update Mazda says it has refined the driving experience while making the SUV more responsive though suspension and steering changes. A thicker material behind the headlining in the ceiling has also been used to keep the cabin even quieter, too.

The result? A ride that's knocking on the door of German prestige SUVs and great dynamics.

Even on the 20-inch wheels and 50-profile tyres fitted to the Azami LE I tested at the launch, the ride was outstanding while the handling was excellent. Pushing the Azami LE hard in the corners should have had something of this size and weight leaning on its door handles, but a moment after entering the turn the CX-9 was able to compose itself, hunker down and hold its line in a controlled and planted way.

The Azami LE is all-wheel drive only, but the front-wheel drive version for the base grade Sport and the FWD Azami I drove felt just as composed with great body control and impressive handling ability for the class. In some ways the Sport being lighter and on smaller wheels and higher profile tyres meant the ride was more comfortable and acceleration a bit better.

That engine is a good thing, although part of me misses the old V6 from years ago for its smoothness and torque. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo has enough grunt and it's fuel efficient, but to me a six-cylinder suits this big flagship better.


Ford Everest8/10

The Everest’s 2.0-litre is not going to get any pulses pounding with its engine note, that’s for sure, but it more than makes up for any lack of rough, gutsy charm – perceived or otherwise – by being the consummate quiet achiever. Because it is very quiet … and it achieves.

The good news is that we pushed the 2477kg Titanium pretty hard off the mark, as well as made a series of overtaking moves and clocked up a bit of open-road cruising and it just burbled along nicely. There’s a real no-fuss quality to its delivery of big torque at low revs. It certainly seems to work better in the Everest than in the Raptor, which we drove at launch a few weeks ago and the consensus there was that it was underpowered and underwhelming.

The Everest is also very quiet inside. Ford reckons the twin-turbo is “much quieter” than their 3.2-litre models due to advanced sound insulation and 'Active Noise Cancellation' which has helped to improve cabin quietness. Well, the 3.2 is pretty quiet anyway, but in the short time I’ve spent so far in the 2019 twin-turbo Everest, I have no reason not to believe them.

Its steering has that real Ford feel – light and lively but precise – and on its revised coil-spring suspension, the Titanium’s ride and handling is even smoother than before. It was firm, bordering on stiff at times, but perhaps the Titanium’s 20-inch rims on road-biased Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tyres set at 38 psi could be blamed for some of that; 18 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels and tyres are a no-cost option on the Titanium.

We did some decent 4WDing on this launch out near Lithgow and the Everest was infrequently challenged anywhere near the limits of its off-roading capabilities.

In fact we intentionally drove our tester in Normal mode and took the ‘off’ line through sections of terrain that would have likely put some rivals in a spot of bother but, with judicious use of that 10-speed auto, especially that low first, we trucked through no problem.

The Everest’s hill descent control deserves a mention also as it’s rather smooth and effective; it holds very low speeds (registering as 0km/h on the dash), can be adjusted via buttons on the steering wheel, and was not jerky or jarring like some systems in other off-roaders can be.

When we did dial through the drive modes of the terrain management system to actually suit the surface we were driving on there was no surprise at how efficient and effective it was, as we’ve used it quite extensively before in the bush and on beach sand.

The Titanium has 227mm ground clearance. We observed a few Everests on different terrain and, especially on deep sharp-edged ruts and short steeper-angled rocky climbs its underslung full-sized spare tyre behind the rear axle can seem like it’s about to become a plow – and there's something else to watch out for. 

One fellow journo pointed out that what appears to be the AdBlue tank protrudes below the bottom edge of the full-sized spare, eating into a bit of ground clearance and the Titanium’s departure angle; posing a bit of a damage risk if your 4WDing takes your Everest into particularly tricky territory.

The Everest has a towing capacity of 3100kg (braked) up from its previous 3000kg; unbraked max is 750kg. The Titanium has a payload of 623kg, a GVM of 3100kg and a 5900kg GCM.

Safety

Mazda CX-99/10

Safety is another strong point of the CX-9 with its maximum five-star ANCAP rating and AEB which works forwards and backwards, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. This update has made the advanced safety tech suite standard across the full range adding adaptive cruise control with stop and go feature, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition.

For child and baby seats you'll find three top-tether anchor points across the second row and two in the third, while there are ISOFIX points in the back as well and two in the second-row window seats.

Under that boot floor you'll find a space saver spare wheel.


Ford Everest8/10

The Everest range has a five-star ANCAP rating as a result of testing conducted in 2015.

Standard safety gear across the range includes seven airbags (driver and front passenger, side front, side curtain (to third row) and driver's knee), ABS, DSC, RSC, EBD, traction control, EBA, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Driver-assist tech in the top-spec Titanium includes AEB, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

It has five child-seat anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors in the second row.

Ownership

Mazda CX-98/10

The CX-9 is covered by Mazda's five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month or 10,000km intervals. Servicing is capped and switch from $329 for the first visit, $371 for the next and then back to $329 for five services.