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2016 Mazda CX-9 Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2016 Mazda CX-9 was new.


Interior: 8.2

The 2016 Mazda CX-9’s refreshed interior is a hit with many reviewers who find that even the plastics in the lower-level trims have the appearance of leather. The fit and finish on the upper trims near luxury-car level. The infotainment system features a standard 7-inch screen that you can control via touch or with the rotary knob on the center console. Critics find it functional, but not particularly cutting-edge. Driver assistance features abound in upper-level trims and generally work well, but the collision mitigation system is touchy and prone to braking too quickly at times. Cargo space, while good, is far from class-leading.

  • "Material quality is excellent throughout. Many of the plastics are so finely grained and soft to the touch that they appear to be bovine based. As in all Mazdas, there are round analog dials, but unlike the binnacles in other Mazdas, one of the round housings actually contains a color LCD screen that can display trip information, a compass, and navigation directions." -- Car and Driver
  • "The cabin itself has undergone its own revamp. The two higher trims – Grand Touring and the new, top-line Signature – could pass for luxury cars. This is most true of the Signature, which boasts Mazda's first use of plush Nappa leather and genuine rosewood." -- Kelley Blue Book


The 2016 Mazda CX-9 seats up to seven in three rows. Cloth is standard, but upper trims come with leather upholstery. The top-of-the-line Signature trim uses high-end Nappa leather. There are two captain’s chairs up front. A six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat is standard, while power adjustable front seats are available. Heated front seats are optional. The second-row seat slides forward and back, as well as reclines, and splits 60/40. The third row splits 50/50.

The first and second rows are exceptionally comfortable, according to reviewers. The third row seat can be tight, some critics say. Others find it big enough to hold adults reasonably well for a modest drive. The biggest issue with the third row may well be getting back there in the first place. You have to slide the second row forward to access the third row. Fortunately, if you have a child seat in the second row, you won’t have to remove it when others climb in back.

The noise level in the cabin is very hushed, thanks to Mazda’s increased soundproofing in the 2016 model. Rearward visibility is also improved over the previous year’s model, though front and center pillars are large and obstruct vision out of the corners and sides of the SUV.

  • No one's going to have any trouble getting comfortable in the first two rows, and while of course the third row is more ideal for kids, adults would have no problem going for an extended ride back there. The only real problem with the third row is ingress and egress." -- Automobile Magazine
  • Visibility is a bit restricted to the front corners and sides by moderately thick roof pillars, while those in back – which are usually the biggest offenders – are thinner than many." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's also quiet, thanks to thicker floorpan steel and an extra 53 pounds of sound deadening material compared to the previous CX-9." -- Autoblog
  • The first- and second-row seats are excellent, with comfortable contouring and high-quality materials. In the second row, I found there to be ample legroom and headroom for long trips. That's not the case, however, in the third row, which loses more than 2 inches of legroom and is very tight for adult-size humans." -- Cars.com
  • The third row feels tighter than the last CX-9 we tested. Legroom back there is reduced by almost 3 inches, so we were unable to crouch down enough to keep our head from grazing the roof. And that's too bad, because the CX-9 always had a roomy third row. Mazda did engineer the second row to slide forward and provide access to that third row, even when a child seat is in place – and that's something families will appreciate." -- AutoWeek

Interior Features

Standard features in the 2016 Mazda CX-9 include Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, a six-speaker stereo, a USB port, tri-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, satellite radio, and a 7-inch touch screen with the Mazda Connect infotainment system, which includes apps such as Pandora. A rearview camera is also standard.

Available features include a 12-speaker Bose stereo system, an 8-inch touch screen, a head-up display, navigation, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and a collision mitigation system that will stop the car if it senses an imminent collision.

As with the rest of the interior, Mazda has significantly upgraded the CX-9’s technology and safety features. Notably absent, however, is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, much to critics’ chagrin.

How you feel about the infotainment system will depend in part on your personal tastes. Some reviewers find that this infotainment system is a model of straightforward design and simplicity. Others complain that the system lacks the sophistication of some competitors. The navigation system, for example, is functional and will get you where you want to go. That’s a plus.

The knob on the center console controls the infotainment system, and it does the job well enough. Some simple processes, however, take more steps than you may prefer. For example, changing the radio station requires multiple clicks. The standard 7-inch touch screen is bigger than last year’s standard screen by more than an inch. An optional 8-inch touch screen is available, but the touch screens only work when the car isn’t moving. Whether you choose to use the touch screen or knob, both are placed conveniently within easy reach of the driver, as are other controls.

The CX-9 is now available with many of the latest accident avoidance systems, like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. It also comes with collision mitigation. This system will take control of the brakes and stop the car if it senses an imminent collision. The system, however, is hyper-sensitive. Some critics discovered that it sometimes stopped more suddenly than they felt necessary.

See 2016 Mazda CX-9 specs and trims »

  • "From the driver's seat, every critical gauge and display sits directly in the driver's field of view. Buttons and switchgear are within easy reach, lending to ergonomics that feel just right. The LCD display in the center stack is touch sensitive, but Mazda's familiar click-wheel and buttons on the center console perform the same inputs and are just as easy to master." -- Autoblog
  • "Mazda Connect's strength is in its simplicity. There's just not much to this infotainment software. The maps and navigation get the job done. There's USB and Bluetooth connectivity and a handful of audio streaming app integrations, but Mazda's less-is-more attitude can be seen in action here." -- CNET
  • "Incorporated into the CX-9 this go-round is the Mazda Connect infotainment system, controlled by a rotary knob and buttons found in the center console between the front seats. When the system appeared a few years ago, it was a big improvement over Mazda's previous offerings but today it doesn't hold up to the latest systems from other manufacturers. Doing simple tasks such as changing the radio station takes multiple button presses, and I had to remove my eyes from the road to do it." -- Cars.com
  • "Mazda also upgraded its stereo, working with Bose to develop a 12-speaker setup that offers great sound and can handle a multitude of digital formats." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Mazda is still down a ways on the learning curve for collision warning and automatic emergency braking. It can be set to three levels of panic and, even in its most lenient setting, it surprised me and my co-driver with several panic stops-often 10 feet shy of a stopped vehicle in front of us." -- Motor Trend


The 2016 Mazda CX-9 has 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 38.2 cubic feet with the third row folded and 71.2 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded.

While several critics report that the space is abundant, there are several competitors that offer considerably more, like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot. On the other hand, the seats fold almost flat, rendering the available space very useful for storage.

A power liftgate with adjustable height is standard on all but the base model, making accessing the cargo area and loading it easier. If you want to lower the second row, however, you’ll have to do it from the side of the car. You can’t drop them from the back, as you can in many competitors’ SUVs.

  • Mazda did improve the overall folding ability of the second and third row, and when both are down, the cargo space is immense and the floor is relatively flat. The only drawback to the new system is that the second row cannot be lowered from the back of the vehicle. Instead, you must open the second-row doors and reach in to lower the seats." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The cargo area is very wide at the rear, and there's a good amount of storage space under the floor; all but the Sport have a power liftgate. Volume is sizable, and the 2nd- and 3rd-row seat backs fold level with the load floor, making the CX-9 competitive from a cargo standpoint." -- Consumer Guide
  • There's 14.4 cubic feet of space behind the third row, and as many as 71.2 cubes with all the seats folded, and fortunately the space is flat. That's less than the Highlander or Pilot, both of which boast more than 83 cubic feet. The Ford Explorer and brand-new 2017 GMC Acadia split the difference with around 80 cubic feet each." -- Autoblog

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