CX-9 vs Competitors

It is better than a CVT for sure but is not any better than the auto transmission we have in our old 2008 Sienna Minivan with 200k miles on it. The "sport" mode in the Mazda is a joke, no paddle shifters, manual up/downshifts are slow-ish ... just like with every traditional AT.
I don't disagree that it is not as fast as a true sport tuned DSG. but saying it is not any better than a 2008 transmission is a bit much. I don't know when is the last time you manually shifted an automatic transmission from that era, but those downshifts and upshift where the slowest thing ever. Compared to the transmission in my 2010 mazda and 2011 ford, the CX-9 manually shifts very quickly and a lot more satisfyingly. Paddle shifters are available on the 2021 CX-9 and have been for a while in the other mazda models, and the sport mode is just a shift point programming variation (which could be ok but this isn't an engine that's meant to rev high).

DSG also have their disadvantages, especially when not done right ( I am looking at you Hyundais, Kias and lesser VW models). Adding a few ratios would definitely help with the fuel economy, but manually shifting an 8 speed transmission is boring as hell and very annoying (trying to figure out how many downshifts you need to get what you want isn't easy).
 
I seem to be one of the few who isn't bothered by the infotainment system, though it's likely because I may not be using it the same way others are (such as podcast/streaming services, nav, AA/ACP). Just curious - what don't you like about the infotainment system?
Compared to BMW and VW, the Apple CarPlay integration is pretty sloppy. For example, if I'm listening to XM radio and then try to use Waze via CarPlay the system will sometimes start playing music from my iPhone.

It felt slightly out of date when I bought the car September 2018. Now that it's 2021, and I'm used to more modern systems, it feels quite dated.

It's not a huge complaint -- it's about the only complaint I have given the price / category of the CX9.
 
Almost DSG quick? :LOL: Only a person who has never driven a true DSG can say that. Sorry.

The CX-9 transmission is fine. It works well for what it is - a conventional 6-speed AT. There is nothing magical or special or super fast about it. It gets the job done well, as it should. Time will show if it's really reliable. Mazda claiming that it's a "sealed" unit with lifetime fluid is a red flag.

It is better than a CVT for sure but is not any better than the auto transmission we have in our old 2008 Sienna Minivan with 200k miles on it. The "sport" mode in the Mazda is a joke, no paddle shifters, manual up/downshifts are slow-ish ... just like with every traditional AT.

A really good, modern, fast, efficient, great shift quality transmission is the ZF 8HP (8-speed) auto transmission. There is a reason why it is used and praised in many many modern luxury and premium SUVs and Sedans with great success. I really wish Mazda offered it in the CX-9 ... but i am also aware it would make the car cost a lot more $$. ...and the bigger issue is - the ZF 8HP transmission comes only in longitudinal form for rear- or all-wheel-drive vehicles.

The CX9 is my first automatic transmission car. Everything that came before was German. I've never been a fan of automatics. What I like about the CX9's transmission is that it feels very well connected with the engine and wheels.

I attribute a lot of the 'direct feel' to the way the traditional 6SPD auto's torque converter is setup; that is, the torque converter is locked most of the time so it's not actually used. This prevents the engine speed from being out of sync with increases and/or decreases in vehicle speed (and avoids that annoying 'squishy' slush-box feeling you get with some automatics).

This guy does a good job of explaining how Mazda tuned the 2.5T's auto trans:


Regarding the sport button, agree the impact is pretty minimal. I find it useful for creating a little more engine braking (when traveling town hill). It does holds gears a bit longer at light throttle as well but this is not really useful as so much power is available from such low RPMS.

Also, regarding the ZF 8 speed, it is indeed great. And it is available in BMW's new front drive 2-series GC (which, in my opinion, is a a disgraceful BMW--front drive?!)
 
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Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
Before purchasing my '21 CX9 GT, I've driven some of the '21, 3 row SUVs that have 8 speed transmissions. In my limited exposure to them they seem to "hunt" for the right gear. The smoothness and seamless shifting of the CX9 was one of the deciding factors for choosing it. My CX9 GT does have paddle shifters. I don't use them often, but they work fine ... they are not a direct replacement for a manual transmission. The "miles per smile" are not the same. There is no substitute for a clutch and a shifter in your hand. I've heard a number pundits suggest that 8 and 10 speed transmissions are "better" but to me "less is more." Just one man's opinion.
Poppy D
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
Compared to BMW and VW, the Apple CarPlay integration is pretty sloppy. For example, if I'm listening to XM radio and then try to use Waze via CarPlay the system will sometimes start playing music from my iPhone.

It felt slightly out of date when I bought the car September 2018. Now that it's 2021, and I'm used to more modern systems, it feels quite dated.

It's not a huge complaint -- it's about the only complaint I have given the price / category of the CX9.

Thanks for clarifying!


A really good, modern, fast, efficient, great shift quality transmission is the ZF 8HP (8-speed) auto transmission. There is a reason why it is used and praised in many many modern luxury and premium SUVs and Sedans with great success. I really wish Mazda offered it in the CX-9 ... but i am also aware it would make the car cost a lot more $$. ...and the bigger issue is - the ZF 8HP transmission comes only in longitudinal form for rear- or all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Would love to see the ZF 8HP used in the upcoming I6 platform. While Mazda's 6AT is great, an 8-speed should give the CX-9 a bump in fuel economy, which is always welcome. But if it has to hunt for gears when downshifting, I'd rather keep the current fuel economy. I've never driven a DSG or 8-speed enough to know for sure.

I agree that the Sport Mode is a bit lackluster. If they added improved throttle response and maybe tweaked G-Vectoring somehow for the existing Sport Mode, it would be near perfect. As it stands, Sport Mode on, with a Sprint Booster installed and set to Sport 7, is a ton of fun :)
 
The CX9 is my first automatic transmission car. Everything that came before was German. I've never been a fan of automatics. What I like about the CX9's transmission is that it feels very well connected with the engine and wheels.

I attribute a lot of the 'direct feel' to the way the traditional 6SPD auto's torque converter is setup; that is, the torque converter is locked most of the time so it's not actually used. This prevents the engine speed from being out of sync with increases and/or decreases in vehicle speed (and avoids that annoying 'squishy' slush-box feeling you get with some automatics).

This guy does a good job of explaining how Mazda tuned the 2.5T's auto trans:


Regarding the sport button, agree the impact is pretty minimal. I find it useful for creating a little more engine braking (when traveling town hill). It does holds gears a bit longer at light throttle as well but this is not really useful as so much power is available from such low RPMS.

Also, regarding the ZF 8 speed, it is indeed great. And it is available in BMW's new front drive 2-series GC (which, in my opinion, is a a disgraceful BMW--front drive?!)
I, too, was a long time enthusiast of "Ze Germans" for many moons. An E12, 3 E28s (including an M5), 2 E34s, and finally parted with my last one almost 2 years ago...a truly beautiful condition '01 E38 Sport Package. Just can't do BMW any more. Reliability is too important, and nothing I hear about the new models is reliable...especially after the typical lease duration is over.

And to your point, a FWD BMW?! Just.....Bleck.
 
Before purchasing my '21 CX9 GT, I've driven some of the '21, 3 row SUVs that have 8 speed transmissions. In my limited exposure to them they seem to "hunt" for the right gear. The smoothness and seamless shifting of the CX9 was one of the deciding factors for choosing it. My CX9 GT does have paddle shifters. I don't use them often, but they work fine ... they are not a direct replacement for a manual transmission. The "miles per smile" are not the same. There is no substitute for a clutch and a shifter in your hand. I've heard a number pundits suggest that 8 and 10 speed transmissions are "better" but to me "less is more." Just one man's opinion.
Poppy D
You're absolutely right. Paddles just don't offer the same visceral connection or sensation as the experience of rowing-your-own with a manual trans. MTs are not more efficient or faster than the new autoboxes, but they offer so much more of a driver's experience for sure.
 
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SF Bay Area
:
'17 CX-9 Signature
I don't disagree that it is not as fast as a true sport tuned DSG. but saying it is not any better than a 2008 transmission is a bit much. I don't know when is the last time you manually shifted an automatic transmission from that era, but those downshifts and upshift where the slowest thing ever. ....

DSG also have their disadvantages, especially when not done right ( I am looking at you Hyundais, Kias and lesser VW models). ....

youri, I was referring to the smoothness and reliability found in the old Toyota AT vs what I see/feel in my 2017 Mazda AT. Both shift the same under NORMAL driving. Manual down/upshifting is likely better in the CX-9, but it is still slow, especially when compared to a DSG or more advanced AT.
My CX-9 doesn't have paddles, but even if it did, the AT is still going to take its sweet time to shift. :)


I fully agree that there are some poorly done DSGs out there. I would not touch them for many reasons. ...and yes, Kia, older VWs, and some Fords come to mind.
 
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2021 CX-9 GT
Almost DSG quick? :LOL: Only a person who has never driven a true DSG can say that. Sorry.

Not my words. That's what reviewers that have driven dozens if not hundreds of vehicles have used as a descriptive comparison. I've personally driven VWs, an Audi, a Focus, and a Porsche with a DSG and yes they're literally lightning quick.

We're talking tenths of a second, well maybe a full second for really bad, laggy transmissions. But to a casual driver they can probably tell: CVT < bad cogged transmission < good cogged transmission < DSG.

The point is the Mazda's transmission is quick. Tapping the paddles results in an immediate response unlike some vehicles that leave you hanging for a moment wondering if anything is happening, and subsequent upshifts & downshifts happen quickly with no delay.
 
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North of Toronto
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2019 CX-9 Sig
I'm one of the rare ppl who loves driving, but prefer automatic to manual (I liked manuals before i was a commuter), but also prefer shifting with the shift lever rather than paddles.

I'll say this, I have limited experience in high end cars, but I ended up in a bare bones Audi A4 couple yrs back as a rental. To call that car's transmission and my Camry's transmission both "Automatic" is really abusing the word. The Audi was a joy to hammer, obviously had more power too but the shifts were amazing. Felt so quick to the next gear. I can't imagine an S4. But for me, the way that thing shifted, I can't see me wanting manual (of course, Audi stopped the A4 manual option a while back in Canada so it's moot).


But a question. I had recently wondered, is it generally true that the manual mode automatic shifts slower (either lever or paddles) than when the automatic is doing it for you? I had figured it should be the same speed, since it's the same transmission bits.
 
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SF Bay Area
:
'17 CX-9 Signature
But a question. I had recently wondered, is it generally true that the manual mode automatic shifts slower (either lever or paddles) than when the automatic is doing it for you? I had figured it should be the same speed, since it's the same transmission bits.
The "manual" mode is all controlled by software parameters, so it can vary from car to car and how they are configured. On many cars with traditional ATs, the paddle shifters do NOT give you faster shifts but do allow you to keep the engine in higher rpm for each gear. The speed of actual shifting can be modified a bit, but it still requires the actual transmission to be able to physically execute the shifts faster. Many ATs cannot since the design does not allow it.
In other words, no matter how much you "tune" a traditional AT and how fast your hand/fingers change the gears, you will never make it as fast as a real DSG.

My old 2012 Audi S4 came with DSG and even before I tuned it (yes, you can make a DSG even faster with a tune), the shifts were unreal fast. No manual transmission can touch that, regardless of how good the driver is. Period.

My fun weekend car is a modified SL55 AMG and it came with a traditional 5-speed AT (722.6). This transmission is truly an old school automatic. It is slow and smooth. Very very strong and reliable, but just slow! After driving the Audi DSG I was shocked by the AMG. I tuned it, even replaced some internal components in the AT itself to "speed up" its response, and it is still barely as good as the CX-9 tranny when it comes to speed and quality of shifts. Not much I can do to it to make it better or faster, as I said - old school design. But it sure is very robust when it comes to handling 650+ lbs-ft of torque. ;) ;)
 
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Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
We are enjoying our new CX9 and still tryng to figure out and experimenting with all of the settings. one thing we found different was that the remote start was moved from the fob to the mobile phone. Since my phone isn't "attached' to me and don't always have it on me, I find this remote start change unfortunate. Just my opinion of course. I was wondering what our other members think.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
Its been 6 months and 6,000 miles later since we picked up our '21 CX9 GT AWD, so I thought it was a good time to give everyone an update on our ownership experience.
We are still very happy with our choice and so far this is the nicest vehicle we've ever owned. Here are some of my thoughts. Knock on wood, so far no maintenance issues to report.

So please keep in mind this is just my take and some members may have differing opinions.

Likes:
1. Still Super quiet
2. Comfortable seats
3. Easy to use and fast infortainment
4. Paddle shifters work great
5. Auto-Folding side-view mirrors
6. Great handling
7. Doesn't feel like a minivan
8. I love the heads up display
9. Smooth shifting transmission
10. No start/stop
11. City MPG - 25+, haven't taken it on a trip yet
12. Great range with over 450+ miles between fillups.

Zonks:
1. No struts to hold the hood open - albeit don't open the hood often
2. Can't get the wireless charging station to work, might be our phones
3. Push botton fan speed, what's wrong with knobs?
4. No 110 volt AC outlet - I want one of these
5. Awkward to get the rear seats to lie flat

I use my CX9 like a truck (I really should get a small pickup) and have already hauled furniture and a few loads of firewood, mulch and stuff most people wouldn't put in their passenger cars. My point is the CX9 has great utility. Bottom line, still love the car and have no regrets. Poppy D

PS: Why doesn't Mazda offer a small pickup here in the US?
 
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Pueblo county CO
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CX-5 Sport 16.5 6M
Its been 6 months and 6,000 miles later since we picked up our '21 CX9 GT AWD, so I hauled furniture and a few loads of firewood, mulch and stuff most people wouldn't put in their passenger cars. My point is the CX9 has great utility. Bottom line, still love the car and have no regrets. Poppy D

PS: Why doesn't Mazda offer a small pickup here in the US?
I guess Mazda got out of the pickup business because they had tariff on Japanese built pups which the big players (Nissan and Toyota) circumvented by building US manufacturing plants.

Before purchasing my '21 CX9 GT, I've driven sdon't use them often, but they work fine ... they are not a direct replacement for a manual transmission. The "miles per smile" are not the same. There is no substitute for a clutch and a shifter in your hand. I've heard a number pundits suggest that 8 and 10 speed transmissions are "better" but to me "less is more." Just one man's opinion.
Poppy D
The Mazda5 "sprtwagon", sort of a sporty, narrow, minivan that the cx9 sort of replaced, was available with MT. So was the Mazda 6.

Fortunately I purchased a '16.5 cx5 with the Skyactive 6MT while they were still available. It's not a miata but it can
carry some lumber and yard supplies.