2019 Mazda CX-9 Test Drive
at the OC Auto Show

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 Crossover SUV was available to test drive at the Orange County Auto Show and iDriveSoCal’s Professor, Clinton Quan, couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.

Call it a mid-size crossover SUV or call it a full-size crossover SUV… either way, it’s a big vehicle that delivers a great value the Mazda-way.

What exactly is the Mazda-way? It’s a lot of things that only Mazda does and you’ll understand better by clicking play below and listenign to this iDriveSoCal Podcast.  While you do check out the few pics Professor Quan snapped from the floor of this year’s OC Auto Show.

Driver-side front-quarter view of a silver 2019 Mazda CX-9 pictured at the Orange Count Auto Show as part of the iDriveSoCal Podcast 133 banner

***Transcript***

Recording date – October 7, 2018, in Anaheim, CA

2019 Mazda CX-9 Crossover SUV

Clinton Quan: That’s definitely a big vehicle. There’s no question about that. It’s a 2.5 liter, in-line, four-cylinder turbo, that cranks out 250 horsepower, more importantly, it’s got 310 lb-ft of torque.

It is such a big vehicle, if you look at it from the outside, it doesn’t look like a big vehicle. And I think that’s the great thing about this car. It’s so well designed. Very stylish with the KODO Design. Really clean lines.

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast. All about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. Tom Smith here with the Good Professor, Mr. Clinton Quan. Say hello, Clinton.

Clinton Quan: Hi Tom.

“Some people might to refer to it as a mid-size, but I consider it a full size…”

Tom Smith: Hey, hey, hey. All that background noise, you know we must be out somewhere, and indeed we are. We are at the Orange County International Auto Show.

And it is the last day of the show, by the time we post this podcast, it will be over. But, by way of the magic of technology of podcasts and whatnot, you are still able to experience the Orange County International Auto Show through the eyes and words of the Professor and I.

Tom Smith: Excuse me, it’s been a long weekend. We’ve been doing a lot of podcasting, you can probably hear it in my voice. And I packed my son’s first birthday, in this weekend as well. So we’re looking forward to a little bit of a break, but not before we bring you this vehicle review.

Tom Smith: The Good Professor went out on a ride and drive; the ride and drives are really big here. The test drives are really big here at the Orange County International Auto Show. And he did… Professor, you did the 2019 Mazda CX-9.

Full-Sized or Mid-Sized CX-9 is BIG!

Clinton Quan: Yes. I test drove the 2019 CX-9, and I drove the Signature Trim, which is the top line trim, for the CX-9. For those of you who don’t know, the CX-9 is a full-size crossover vehicle.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Some people might to refer to it as a mid-size, but I consider it a full size, based on the overall exterior dimensions of the vehicle.

Passenger-side profile view of a silver 2019 Mazda CX-9 at the Orange County International Auto Show

Tom Smith: What does Mazda refer to it as?

Clinton Quan: I think they call it a mid-size.

Tom Smith: A mid-size?

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: They used to have a CX-7, which was really their true mid-size, and I think they’re actually bringing that to other markets, not here in the US. And some time down the future they might bring that vehicle back.

“…2.5 liter, in-line, four-cylinder turbo, that cranks out 250 horsepower if you’re using 93 octane.”

Tom Smith: Okay, so technically though, the CX-9 is Mazda’s mid-size, currently, they’re calling it a mid-size.

Clinton Quan: I think they call it a mid-size. I’ve seen it mid-size, I’ve seen it referred to as a full size, but if you look at the dimensions, it’s about 200 inches in length, I think a little over 199. That’s definitely a big vehicle. There’s no question about that.

Tom Smith: So, the CX-9 is their largest SUV/crossover?

Clinton Quan: Yes. Correct.

Tom Smith: Okay. Going from there.

Clinton Quan: So, there are four trim levels, starting with the base, the Sport, which starts at about 32,000.

Tom Smith: K.

Clinton Quan: Then there is the mid-level touring, which starts at about 35,000.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Then you have the grand touring, which used to be their top of the line trim, 40,000, and now they have this, it’s a fairly new trim, the Signature, which goes for about $45,000.

Fuel/Performance Mix

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: And that’s also available on their Flag Ship City on the Mazda6. It utilizes the same engine. It’s a 2.5 liter, in-line, four-cylinder turbo, that cranks out 250 horsepower if you’re using 93 octane. If you’re using regular gas, it’ll produce 227 horsepower.

Tom Smith: They document that?

Clinton Quan: Absolutely. Yes.

Tom Smith: That’s the first manufacturer I’ve heard, maybe you’ve heard differently, but that’s the first manufacturer I’ve heard to actually address, “Hey, if you’re using better gas, you’re gonna get this, and if you’re using lesser gas, you’re gonna get this.”

“…310 is a lot of torque for a four-cylinder turbo.”

Clinton Quan: Yeah, if you’re using the higher octane gas, the 93, as opposed to the, what is it? The 87.

Tom Smith: Are more manufacturers doing that now? That’s the first that I’ve heard of that.

Clinton Quan: I’m trying to remember off the top of my head. I believe there might be one or two others, vehicles that-

Tom Smith: Because I mean, here’s the thing, you and me, being car guys, we know that, right?

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: And I think many, it’s relatively common knowledge to the car people, car person.

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: Whether you’re a car guy, car gal. But most manufacturers don’t actually state that. So-

Clinton Quan: Well, for a lot of car manufacturers, they recommend 87 or 93.

Tom Smith: Right.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: So-

Clinton Quan: And I don’t know if there’s really gonna be a difference?

Tom Smith: But when you, and we’re going off on a tangent here, this is a vehicle review. But when you open your fuel tank, to put gas in the car, if it says, “Use premium fuel only-”

Horsepower & Torque

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: …that’s a suggestion, right? It’s not a mandate. But that suggestion is in order to get the most performance and best fuel economy out of the vehicle.

Clinton Quan: Correct. And it’s probably gonna keep your-

Tom Smith: It’ll also-

Clinton Quan: …vehicle-

Front-facing view of a silver 2019 Mazda CX-9 at the Orange County International Auto Show

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Clinton Quan: …in a better condition for a longer period of time.

Tom Smith: Yes.

Clinton Quan: I would think.

Tom Smith: Yes, better for the vehicle as well.

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: Okay, anyway. To try to keep the focus here on the 2019 Mazda CX-9. Sorry, I took us off tangent a little bit, but, we do that from time to time.

Clinton Quan: Yes. That’s fine.

“It’s so well designed. Very stylish with the KODO Design. Really clean lines.”

Tom Smith: Yeah. So you drove the top of the line and the top of the line is the Signature?

Clinton Quan: Yes. The Signature Trim. And going back to the specifications, more importantly, it’s got 310 lb-ft of torque.

Tom Smith: Wow.

Clinton Quan: Yeah. So it’s got a lot of torque. Usually with most cars, if you’re looking at a turbocharged engine, the horsepower, and the torque, the numbers are very, very similar.

Tom Smith: But in this case, the torque is a lot more, right?

Clinton Quan: Yeah. 310 is a lot of torque for a four-cylinder turbo.

Tom Smith: Now is that because they’re gonna be expecting, I mean, this vehicle isn’t expected to go off-road. Nobody’s gonna be, although, have I, is this one that I’ve seen the television commercials that show it going off-road?

Clinton Quan: I don’t think so.

Tom Smith: Okay. There’s something else I’m thinking of. But, the, all that torque, is for what purpose? Is it because it’s a four-cylinder in a relatively large crossover SUV?

7-Passenger Mazda CX-9

Clinton Quan: Yeah, as I mentioned, this is a big vehicle.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: And I think that they purposely cranked up the torque to give you better acceleration, better pick up.

Tom Smith: Okay. Especially when you have a-

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: …a loaded-up vehicle. And speaking of loaded up, how many adults does this carry max?

Clinton Quan: This can carry seven adults.

Tom Smith: Okay. So it does have that third row.

Clinton Quan: It has a third row, yes.

“…even though they don’t make any hybrids and they don’t make any electric vehicles. Every vehicle they make comes with a four-cylinder engine.”

Tom Smith: All right. That’s interesting. I mean I think that therein lies many of the reasons, but also therein lies all the torque is-

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: …you have seven adults in a vehicle, in a four-cylinder, you’re gonna need to get some pretty peak performance outta that engine.

Clinton Quan: Yeah. I wouldn’t recommend adults in the third row. It’s probably best, kids-

Tom Smith: And usually, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Clinton Quan: Maybe five adults and two kids. But, yeah, it’s a big vehicle and even though it is such a big vehicle, if you look at it from the outside, it doesn’t look like a big vehicle. And I think that’s the great thing about this car. It’s so well designed. Very stylish with the KODO Design. Really clean lines.

Tom Smith: KODO Design?

Clinton Quan: Yeah. That’s what it’s called.

Tom Smith: What’s that?

Clinton Quan: Mazda’s, that’s their, that’s the terminology they use for all of the vehicles, which has this really fluid design. Very-

Tom Smith: Mazda does have a very uniform look, across its entire line up these days.

Mazda Design & Engineering

Clinton Quan: Yeah, whether you look at the CX-3, their sub-compact crossover, their compact crossover, the CX-5, the full size, the CX-9. The Mazda3, their compact vehicle.

Tom Smith: And it’s a clean look, it’s a very-

Clinton Quan: It’s a very, very clean look.

Tom Smith: It’s a luxurious look, really.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: I mean-

Clinton Quan: They’ve really focused on design and engineering and I would say that Mazda, among all manufacturers, they are the most underrated brand.

“…the interior of this car will rival the luxury automakers.”

They also make the most fuel-efficient vehicles. If you look at the entire range of vehicles if you average the fuel economy. But most people don’t realize that, even though they don’t make any hybrids and they don’t make any electric vehicles. Every vehicle they make comes with a four-cylinder engine.

Silver 2019 Mazda CX-9 at the Orange County International Auto Show

Tom Smith: I read recently, and we’re going off topic again, but I read recently they’re bringing back the rotary engine as part of their hybrid combo.

Clinton Quan: Yes. I read the same thing, too.

Tom Smith: All right.

Clinton Quan: So, I’m hoping they bring back the RX-7. I’d love to see a sports car back in their line up.

Tom Smith: All right. All right. Now, let’s try to keep the focus a little bit here, the CX-9. We went around the outside, I think. Is there anything else to point out on the outside? Is there anything specific to the outside, for the trim level that you drove? That’s only gonna come with that trim level?

Mazda Value

Clinton Quan: That’s a good question. I think it would take a very discerning eye to see the differences between all the different trims. Probably the big thing is, obviously the wheels, that’s always the big difference.

Tom Smith: Sure. Sure.

Clinton Quan:    Yeah, bigger, nicer wheels. Moving into the inside though, what’s nice about the Signature Trim, is you’re gonna have real Rosewood. Usually, you’re not gonna find real wood trim unless you’re going into the luxury brands.

Tom Smith: Right.

Clinton Quan: So, say, a Toyota versus a Lexus. Nissan versus Infinity. Honda versus…

Tom Smith: Yep, yep, yep.

“You could definitely feel the torque in this vehicle.”

Clinton Quan: You’re gonna get real wood in that, in the luxury brand. Here, you’re getting the real wood. And the interior of this car will rival the luxury automakers.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Clinton Quan: It is that beautiful. It’s absolutely gorgeous. They’ve done a fantastic job. There’s plenty of space. The ergonomics are excellent. High quality fit and finish.

Tom Smith: Technology?

Clinton Quan: You’re gonna get all that technology in there. Mazda was one of the first companies, if not the first, I remember, to come out with the blind spot and rear cross traffic-

Tom Smith: Okay. So plenty of safety tech there.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: All right. Excellent. How does it drive? You test drove here at the OC Auto Show, all the manufacturers, as we’ve discussed previously, all the manufacturers have a specific route that you get to go on, around the OC Auto Show, essentially. Tell us about the drive.

The “U” in SUV

Clinton Quan: This was a very short drive, I must say, but, you could definitely feel the acceleration in this vehicle. Yeah, even though for, even though it’s a large vehicle-

Tom Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Clinton Quan: …and it only has a four-cylinder, but it is turbo, it’s got plenty of power.

Tom Smith: All right.

Clinton Quan: You could definitely feel the torque in this vehicle.

“I think it’s one of the best looking, you could say mid-size or full-size crossovers out there.”

Tom Smith: Are you potentially throwing a hitch on this and towing anything? Maybe on the smaller end? A small boat? Small-

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: Yeah?

Clinton Quan: I think something smaller you could tow.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: I don’t know what the-

Tom Smith: All that torque-

Clinton Quan: …towing capacity is, but, with that amount of torque, yeah.

Tom Smith: Okay. All right. Excellent. Unless there’s anything else, let’s go to Top Three.

Top-3 Favorites – #1

Clinton Quan: Top Three? Yes. First of all, I gotta go with that exterior styling, I think it’s one of the best looking, you could say mid-size or full-size crossovers out there.

Tom Smith: Now I haven’t seen it, but is the 2019 styling pretty much in line with what we’ve seen the last couple of years? Or has there been any drastic changes?

Clinton Quan: No drastic changes.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: It looks-

“First of all, I gotta go with that exterior styling…”

Tom Smith: That’s-

Clinton Quan: …good. If there’s any changes, it’s very minimal and I don’t think-

Tom Smith: Still has that same-

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: But great looking car.

Clinton Quan: Great looking-

Tom Smith: Great looking lineup.

Clinton Quan: Great looking vehicle. Yeah.

Tom Smith: Okay. Sorry. So, exterior styling is your number one. What’s the rest of the Top Three?

Top-3 Favorites – #2

Clinton Quan: The second, definitely the interior. As soon as you open the door of this vehicle, you’re gonna notice the premium quality and feel of the vehicle.

Tom Smith: Punches above its weight class, so to speak. Right?

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: ‘Cause it’s Mazda. It’s not-

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: …Mazda isn’t considered, even an Acura or an Infinity or certainly a Lexus, right?

“…second, definitely the interior. As soon as you open the door of this vehicle, you’re gonna notice the premium quality and feel of the vehicle.”

Clinton Quan: No, it’s not.

Tom Smith: It’s Mazda.

Clinton Quan: It’s Mazda.

Tom Smith: More of a Honda/Toyota/Nissan.

Clinton Quan: Yes. Interesting that you brought that up, because it was just recently, I believe it was Motor Trend that did a comparison test of a Mazda crossover, the CX-5, versus the Lexus NX. They actually rated the Mazda CX-5 over the Lexus NX.

Tom Smith: There you go.

Clinton Quan: Yeah. So that just shows you.

Tom Smith: That’s impressive.

Clinton Quan: What an impressive vehicle they are building. Yeah.

Top-3 Favorites – #3

Tom Smith: Okay. And the third of your Top Three?

Clinton Quan: The third I definitely would have to go with that engine. 310 lb-ft of torque. It’s got plenty of-

Tom Smith: That’s a lot for a four-cylinder, huh?

Clinton Quan: Yeah. It is a lot.

Tom Smith: Good for them.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Bravo, Mazda.

“…definitely would have to go with that engine. 310 lb-ft of torque.”

Clinton Quan: And then, on top of that, not only are you getting that torque, but you’re still getting great fuel economy.

Tom Smith: Of course.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Yeah. All right, well fantastic.

Clinton Quan: Yep.

Tom Smith: Professor? Anything else?

Clinton Quan: That’s it.

Tom Smith: Okay. Another vehicle review from the Good Professor, Mr. Clinton Quan, here at the Orange County International Auto Show. Thank you, my friend. I think we have a couple more of these in our hat before the weekend is up. So check those out. And always, thank you for tuning in. For iDrive SoCal, I am Tom Smith. We will talk to you soon.

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