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Mazda CX-9


Peugeot 3008

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

Peugeot 3008

If Peugeot is ever to become more than an also-ran in our ridiculously competitive new car market, it'll be a car like the all-new 3008 that will get it there. 

It's a mid-size SUV, for one, firing it into one of our most popular segments. It's also well-equipped, easy on the eye, and packing the engine choices and technology most Australian buyers are looking for. 

Oh, it's also carrying a swag-bag of major international awards, including the 2017 European Car of The Year title.

But will any of that be enough to convince Australian buyers to take a punt on what is still a relative unknown in the country?

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.7L/100km
Seating5 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.


Peugeot 30087.1/10

If Peugeot is to become a force on Australian roads, this is its chance. A perfect storm of the right product, the right time and a commitment to putting more of them on our driveways means the French brand is finally in the box seat. 

Also, check out Tim Robson's thoughts on the 3008 from its international launch.

Does the new 3008 put Peugeot into your mid-size SUV short list? Tell us what you think in the comments 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.


Peugeot 30088/10

It's seriously good looking, the 3008, and the pictures don't really do it justice. For ours, it is immediately duking it out for the title of  best-looking model in its class, despite the front end being less resolved than the rear.

A puffy-looking front end, courtesy of the recessed headlights, surround a huge Peugeot grille. The belt line then climbs low to high as it travels toward the rear of the car, where it meets the three-stripe (they're meant to looks like a claw swipe) rear lights. 

But if the front is busy, the back is all squared-off coolness, thanks to a Range Rover Evoque-style rear windscreen and (on the right trim) twin trapezoid exhausts tips.

Inside, a futuristic dash set-up is headlined by the 'i-Cockpit', which centres on a customisable digital screen, accompanied by a second, 8.0-inch multimedia screen in the centre of the dash.

Other special mentions inside go to the textured, layered dash design that makes the driver and front passenger feel like they're sitting in their own cockpit, and to the piano key-style controls in the dash that take care of everything from the air-conditioning to the hazard lights, and make an appearance in everything from the cheapest model up.

Oh, and the steering wheel, which is a strange new shape that kind of makes it both flat-bottomed and flat-topped. Sounds odd, sure, but it works.

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

Up front, you'll find two cupholders, as well as a shallow bin under the dash that doubles as an induction charging pad. Plus, there's a storage bin between the front seats that is ridiculously deep. A USB charge point and a 12-volt power outlet complete the front-seat offering.

The backseat is a firm pew, but for ours, that just means you'll get more wear out of it. There's a surprising amount of space for rear passengers, too, with headroom (at least, in the sunroof-free cars) ample, and tons of space between my knees and the seat in front when sitting behind my (180cm) driving position.

One weird quirk, though, is the rear air vents (applause) protrude so much into the rear seat (retract that applause) that middle seat riders are going to have to spread their legs into each window seat to sit anything even approaching comfortably. It's weird. 

Better off ditching the middle rider and deploying the fold-down armrest, which will unlock two more cup holders. There are seat back pockets, too, as well as two ISOFIX attachment points, and rear seaters get vents, and a 12-volt power source.

Luggage room is a healthy 591 litres with the rear seats in place, and 1670 litres with them folded flat - though you can also make use of the wonderfully European ski opening to carry longer stuff.

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

The 3008 arrives in four flavours; the cheapest Active, the mid-spec Allure and GT Line, and the top-of-the-tree GT trim.

The range kicks off with the $36,990 Active (Peugeot has opted not to import the Access trim, which forms the bargain-basement entry point in international markets), and outside, your spend will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, as well as automatic headlights and wipers.

In the cabin, you'll find Peugeot's very cool i-Cockpit - a 12.3-inch digital display in the driver's binnacle, like Audi's Virtual Cockpit - as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen that's Apple Car Play and Android Auto-equipped, navigation, induction charging for your phone and dual-zone climate control.

Step up to the $39,490 Allure and you'll add keyless entry and push-button start, privacy glass for the rear windows and a cool fabric dash insert. You'll also nab 18-inch alloys and LED 'puddle lights' that illuminate the ground underneath the driver and passenger doors.

The $43,490 GT Line adds LED headlights and fog lights and some cool-looking exterior design elements like stainless steel scuff plates and twin exhaust tips, plus you get a different 18-inch wheel design.

Finally, the $49,490 GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, swaps the cloth seats for an Alcantara set-up (including an insert in the dash), as well as a heating and massage function for the front seats.

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

There are just the two engines on offer; a petrol unit available in the Active, Allure and GT Line cars, and a diesel that's offered up in the top-spec GT. 

The petrol option is a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit producing 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm. It pairs exclusively with a six-speed automatic and sends its power to the front wheels. Expect a 9.9sec 0-100km/h time, and a flying top speed of 201km/h.

The diesel drinker is a 2.0-litre unit good for 122kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm. It pairs with the same six-speed auto, and it, too, sends its power to the front wheels. It's slighter sprightlier, though, and good for a 8.9sec 0-100km/h sprint, and it will push on to 207km/h.

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

Peugeot claims the petrol option sips 7.0L/100km on the combined economy cycle, while the diesel needs just 4.8 litres to go the same distance.  Emissions are 156g/km in the petrol, and 124g/km in the diesel.

All 3008s arrive with a 53-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.


Peugeot 30087/10

How do I put this delicately? Um, the 3008 doesn't drive like something traditionally French. There's very little quirkiness about the way it goes about its business, nor does it feel like you're compromising something (ride, comfort, your own sanity) for something else (performance, dynamics, a decent seating position).

The petrol and diesel engines are quiet enough, and while both offer not-life-changing acceleration, the diesel engine is definitely the choice for perkier response, with the added torque lending the Peugeot a little extra oomph from standstill.

Truly poor roads will send noise whistling through the cabin, but otherwise it's a comfortable, largely quiet place to while away the hours. Most impressive, though, is the ride; which (albeit after a brief, frankly boring taste test) proved something verging on brilliant. It absorbs most imperfections and banishes them before they appear, with only serious road issues sending a crash into the cabin. 

The downsides? The 3008 is home to a Sport button that actually detracts from the drive experience, adding a weight to the steering that makes it a little trickier to feel your way through corners. Add to that column-mounted paddles that seem to vanish when there's any lock on the wheel, and you're much better off cruising rather than trying to push the 3008 into sporty behaviour.

So, we'll reserve judgement until we spend some more time behind the wheel, but it felt impressively sorted on our brief test route. 

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

The glaring omission here is the lack of AEB on the cheaper models (something Peugeot's new, and only weeks old, Australian importer concedes it might have rectified if they had more time and involvement with the planning of this model). Its a shame, though, because there's plenty of other cool stuff that you'll find as standard.

Expect six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), along with the usual suite of traction and braking aids. A nice touch across all trim levels is the standard speed-limit-recognition system, which will read the speed signs as you pass them and beam that information onto the digital screen in the driver's binnacle. Distance alert (which warns if you you're too close to the car in front), lane departure warning and a fatigue warning are all standard, too. 

AEB arrives on the GT Line and GT grades, along with active lane keeping, adaptive cruise with complete stop, active blind spot detection and auto high beams.

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.


Peugeot 30087/10

All 2017 3008s are covered by a three-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty, (five year, unlimited km from MY18 onwards) and require servicing every 12 months or 20,000kms. Service costs are published on the Peugeot Australia every year.