how is 2019 CX-9 AWD performance

:
2019 Cx-9 GT
How is 2019 Skyactive AWD performance compared to SH-AWD from honda or AWD from Subaru?
Saw good snow performance of mazda's awd in a youtube. It appears they did something extra with TCS off button which may mimic an 4WD system??
 
:
2018 CX-9 Sig
:
2014 CX-5 GT
I would argue that the system is inferior to the SH-AWD or Subaru systems but works well enough that the difference is irrelevant for most things. In conditions that are really bad - like deep snow, etc, the tires play a bigger role than the AWD system.

Turning the TCS off (even on the 2018 model) will dramatically reduce front wheel spin and allow for quicker utilization of the rear wheels. As crazy as it sounds, in bad weather, I drive with sport mode on and traction control off.

I think in the 2020 CX-9, "AWD" mode is basically TCS off.
 

Montanaman

Montana/Arizona
:
2018.5 CX-9 AWD GT
I haven't had not spent a lot of time with the Mazda system in the snow but I would say it's perfectly adequate on slick surfaces and mostly un-noticed when it activates. Power on dry pavement it is noticeable at times when the power shifts to the rear for traction. There is definitely some torque steer for short turning under hard acceleration. If your driving it normally you'll not notice it.

I have a new Honda Ridgeline that has Honda's very good SH-AWD system and it's totally different feeling then the Mazda on dry pavement and it's a better system when your in the deep stuff with its torque vectoring rear end. It will send up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels and then split that power and when your driving hard or around corners it feels like it's on rails. And this is a 4700 lb truck. It's the same set up found on the Acura products like the MDX and there is no debate that it is a much better set up. Even though it's a front drive bias the power is alway connected and working on the rear wheels. You never notice it changing if that makes any sense. The CX-9's predictive system is very good for everyday wet/snow weather use. That's really what its for.
 
Last edited:

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
I agree with dougal and Montanaman. I've never driven a vehicle with SH-AWD or Subaru's symmetrical AWD, but everything I've read, heard and seen about these systems mirrors the sentiments in the posts above.

Personally, I'm on Blizzaks, and for my daily commutes I just start her up and go. Traction control light hasn't come on yet, and we've had snow on the ground since October.
 
Can*t comment on the other 2 systems either unfortunately.

My views on the Mazda AWD. Where it differs from other AWD is in its predictive nature. In certains situation it is superior to most AWD because it knows it must engage, in other situation it acts like a regular AWD similar to most competitors. In dry conditions if you floor the pedal it doesn*t react fast enough and there will be noticeable torque steer and front wheel slip (the high torque engine and somewhat slippery Orem tires doesn*t help there), in snow conditions it already knows to engage the rear wheels and it engages early and really well. In short, in winter condition i find it great, but it doesn*t mimic a rear wheel drive feel in dry conditions if you want to drive it with the pedal to the metal.

The new button on the 2020 serves the same function as the TCS off button on the 2019 and 2018 but was renamed due to naming confusion. It is more off a get unstuck mode than a normal TCS which is why Mazda renamed it.

. I am basing myself on this video, where Mazda engineers explained how traction control off helped the CX-9 in a specific tricky AWD test. Kind of neat to see his comments make it into production for the 2020 model. You can watch the whole video for explanation, but the renaming of the button is clearly mentioned at 11:33. https://youtu.be/5wWY7JhNZ8U
 
:
2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
I'd put Mazda's AWD a bit above "real-time AWD" systems, like Honda's, but below "full-time AWD" systems like those from Subaru, Acura (SH-AWD), or BMW (xDrive).

As youri mentioned, the predictive nature of Mazda's gives it a slight advantage over other systems like Honda's. That said, I've still had situations with Mazda's system where I can feel the front wheels spin before the rears engaged. There was one particular situation where this happened last winter that the rear wheels engaging actually led to the tail end kicking out while I was making a turn. I thought this was unusual since I'd been driving in snow at the time and I expected the system to understand that it should just stay in AWD mode, but something weird happened in that instance, I suppose.

That said, with decent tires, the system is perfectly fine operating in wintry weather conditions for everyday driving. I'd even say it's really good. My CX-9 turned into a completely different (and better) vehicle, especially so far this winter, after I put better tires on it. My CX-9 came with Bridgestone Ecopias (which I've complained about plenty) and I replaced them with Continental TerrainContact H/T and they're MUCH better.
 
Last edited:
:
2018 CX-9 Sig
:
2014 CX-5 GT
I don't get this "predictive" thing. With wet roads, the front tires will slip in a big way unless the TCS is turned off. I personally don't see "predictive" but rather slow "reactive". Not saying it is bad but don't believe it is more "intelligent" than other systems.
 
Last edited:
:
2019 Cx-9 GT
I haven't had not spent a lot of time with the Mazda system in the snow but I would say it's perfectly adequate on slick surfaces and mostly un-noticed when it activates. Power on dry pavement it is noticeable at times when the power shifts to the rear for traction. There is definitely some torque steer for short turning under hard acceleration. If your driving it normally you'll not notice it.

I have a new Honda Ridgeline that has Honda's very good SH-AWD system and it's totally different feeling then the Mazda on dry pavement and it's a better system when your in the deep stuff with its torque vectoring rear end. It will send up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels and then split that power and when your driving hard or around corners it feels like it's on rails. And this is a 4700 lb truck. It's the same set up found on the Acura products like the MDX and there is no debate that it is a much better set up. Even though it's a front drive bias the power is alway connected and working on the rear wheels. You never notice it changing if that makes any sense. The CX-9's predictive system is very good for everyday wet/snow weather use. That's really what its for.

So many names of these AWD drives but I wonder how much different are they? The newer Pilots 2018 and above get the i-VTM 4 and Acura calls it SH-AWD - mechanically same but definitely better tuning on SH-AWD. I guess split second actions by each wheel could save a disaster from happening but then tires play the most important role. I just wondered how Mazda AWD perfomed. I drive very carefully on snow because I somehow dont trust these systems - trust better tires though. My SUV with x-drive slipped on snow while on season tires - I guess tires might be reason here.
I will look at the video that "youri" provided here for the sake of knowing this system. thanks "youri"
 

Montanaman

Montana/Arizona
:
2018.5 CX-9 AWD GT
The Honda/Acura AWD system is totally different from a typical clutch based AWD system found on most SUV's including Mazda's. Honda's AWD system ( basically the same as Acura's SH-AWD, same company, same parts) is a full time AWD system with a torque converter that can separate power independently to the rear wheels. From what I have read and felt ( in my Ridgeline) it is always engaged and definitely improves feel and handling on a dry curvy road. It also can send as much as 70% of the power to the rear wheels unlike the 50/50 split found in most other part-time AWD systems like the one found on the CX-9.

There is a big difference especially in everyday dry road handling. With the Honda I never feel like it's a front drive biased vehicle ( even though it really is) and have never felt any version of torque steer even under the hardest acceleration when hitting a corner from a stop(and with 280 HP it's got plenty of power to spin the front tires). With our CX-9 the power takes a second or two to transfer to the rear under hard acceleration and the front can break loose and will plow/understeer a bit. It's no big deal and the CX-9's system is more than adequate for driving in the wet and snow. It's impressive that Honda actually uses the SH-AWD system in all of their AWD vehicles. Watch Savagegeese's latest video review of the 2020 Honda Pilot. He raves about it and even though it's not the "nicest mid size SUV" it would be his pick simply because of that AWD system and it's handling. It's an impressive system and one of the main reasons I chose the Ridgeline over the other mid size trucks that have a traditional 4WD system that has to be mechanically engaged and are worthless on a dry road. Unless your really going to do some heavy off roading and mudding they are not necessary to me.
 
:
SF Bay Area
:
'17 CX-9 Signature
Fully agree with Montanaman. The CX-9 AWD system and the SH-AWD are not even comparable. Maybe on paper....but not in reality.
The SH-AWD is what the Mazda AWD should be, but due to cost cutting - it's not. Not even close.

With good snow tires, my '17 CX-9 AWD does *well* in the snow. I would never get stuck, but i can also tell that there is nothing "smart" or "predictive" about it. It's all marketing talk. The tires are doing all the hard work. The system is far from intelligent in actual tricky conditions. The rear axle gets very little power. The rear differential will overheat if real stress is put on it for a longer period of time. :( With the OEM Falken all-season tires....my CX-9 was a joke on snow covered/icy roads. :( First trip to the mountains, I was climbing uphill to a parking lot, on snow/ice covered side road....and my front wheels lost traction. Front Wheel spin started. TC light blinking. Rear wheels got no power sent to them. Like zero. Only front tires were spinning...on and off. TC was doing a very poor job. I though my driveshaft was disconnected. I tried every trick i knew, and it took 3-4 tries before i could climb up to the parking lot. I assure you, it was not lack of skill - i've been driving in the snow for 15+ years....FWD and awd cars. In the meantime....i recall, an Audi Q5 on all-season Pirelli tires drove by me with no issues. That's how bad the Falken tires & CX-9 awd did my first winter with the Mazda. I was ready to trade in the car the next week, but other people told me about similar experience with the OEM tires. Luckily, once i installed the Nokian Hakkapeleita snow tires - things got much much better. No more drama. We've had 2 good winters. I am keeping the car. :)

In comparison...few years ago, I had a 2007 Acura RL with SH-AWD for about 3 years, and the system was extremely impressive, in ALL conditions - dry, rain, snow, slush, you name it. Extremely surefooted and never, even once, i felt like my 300hp sedan was going to lose traction. Never felt torque steer. This heavy sedan was cornering better than sport coupes. It was a blast in the snow. One year, I drove through a surprise early spring blizzard at 7300ft elevation, on new summer tires (not even all season).... and the RL did great. No slip, no wheel spin...felt like i drove in heavy rain. If this was the CX-9 with the Falken A/S tires, i would be on the side of the road, waiting for the the snow plow to clear the road. The only car i've driven with better AWD system and better handling was my 2012 Audi S4, but this is a whole different beast.
My wife drives a Lexus GX (Land Cruiser Prado) and this thing is also unstoppable in the snow, even with all-season tires.

Here is a nice video, showing the Honda/Acura sh-awd / i-vtm systems, for those interested. Good video.
https://oppositelock.kinja.com/honda-i-vtm4-and-acura-sh-awd-explained-1831874701
 
Last edited:
:
2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
I think Honda tunes their AWD systems differently depending on the vehicle. It makes sense that a truck like the Ridgeline would have its AWD engaged more or at least send more power to the rear wheels more often. I believe the system found in the Pilot, and now the Passport, is an evolution of the simpler setup they used to use on vehicles like the CR-V.

My experience with the CR-V or even the non-SH-AWD RDX they made for model years 2013-2018 on the other hand, had noticeable delays between when the front wheels would slip and the rears would engage. That said, it wasn't exactly slow, but it was noticeable and it was ALWAYS reactive.

Mazda's system, in my experience, seems to at least be more proactive in certain cases. For example, if temperatures are low and I have the windshield wipers on, it seems like it keeps AWD engaged more.

ALL that said, any of the AWD systems being discussed here will work fine in daily driving on public roads. Tires of course make a huge difference too, but some systems also definitely perform better than others when you look at the details.
 
:
2018 CX-9 Sig
:
2014 CX-5 GT
I think Honda tunes their AWD systems differently depending on the vehicle. It makes sense that a truck like the Ridgeline would have its AWD engaged more or at least send more power to the rear wheels more often. I believe the system found in the Pilot, and now the Passport, is an evolution of the simpler setup they used to use on vehicles like the CR-V.

My experience with the CR-V or even the non-SH-AWD RDX they made for model years 2013-2018 on the other hand, had noticeable delays between when the front wheels would slip and the rears would engage. That said, it wasn't exactly slow, but it was noticeable and it was ALWAYS reactive.

Mazda's system, in my experience, seems to at least be more proactive in certain cases. For example, if temperatures are low and I have the windshield wipers on, it seems like it keeps AWD engaged more.

ALL that said, any of the AWD systems being discussed here will work fine in daily driving on public roads. Tires of course make a huge difference too, but some systems also definitely perform better than others when you look at the details.

The AWD in my old CR-V was terrible and honestly dangerous. It would literally fishtail you around a corner in the snow and cause an accident. The CX-9 system works well enough. Could be better for sure but for the type and class of vehicle, it is perfectly acceptable.
 

Montanaman

Montana/Arizona
:
2018.5 CX-9 AWD GT
I think Honda tunes their AWD systems differently depending on the vehicle. It makes sense that a truck like the Ridgeline would have its AWD engaged more or at least send more power to the rear wheels more often. I believe the system found in the Pilot, and now the Passport, is an evolution of the simpler setup they used to use on vehicles like the CR-V.

My experience with the CR-V or even the non-SH-AWD RDX they made for model years 2013-2018 on the other hand, had noticeable delays between when the front wheels would slip and the rears would engage. That said, it wasn't exactly slow, but it was noticeable and it was ALWAYS reactive.

https://www.allannotthonda.com/blog/difference-between-honda-all-wheel-drive-systems/

Honda has two different AWD systems that they use. The CRV and the HRV get the more basic clutch operated unit much like Mazda's and others. The Pilot, Passport and Ridgeline get the much more sophisticated i-vtm torque vectoring system that mimics the SH-AWD found in Acura products. Very different set up and results.

If the Passport had been out when we got the CX-9 I may have gone that way just because of the superior AWD system. We will never use a 3rd row so the Pilot would never have been a consideration as it really does feel like a mini-van but still that AWD system makes it handle better than it has a right to. Just watch a few reviews on line. The CX-9 blows away the Pilot and Passport in the looks department both inside and out and the steering feel and ride is just better in my opinion. The other thing in the CX-9's favor is the 9 speed in the Honda products is not as good as Mazda's trusty 6 speed even though they re-tuned it after a horrible launch a couple years ago. Thankfully my Ridgeline has the older Honda 6 speed auto and it's perfect for that vehicle.

I was at the Mazda dealer here in Arizona for service and looked at and talked to a sales guy about what changes Mazda might make in the near future. Since they are the "driving matter's" brand I'd like to see them upgrade the AWD system for on road handling and it's time for a new engine of some sort. He said they are working on a new in-line 6 cylinder which would be awesome in a totally new CX-9. One can dream.
 
:
2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
I think Honda tunes their AWD systems differently depending on the vehicle. It makes sense that a truck like the Ridgeline would have its AWD engaged more or at least send more power to the rear wheels more often. I believe the system found in the Pilot, and now the Passport, is an evolution of the simpler setup they used to use on vehicles like the CR-V.

My experience with the CR-V or even the non-SH-AWD RDX they made for model years 2013-2018 on the other hand, had noticeable delays between when the front wheels would slip and the rears would engage. That said, it wasn't exactly slow, but it was noticeable and it was ALWAYS reactive.

https://www.allannotthonda.com/blog/difference-between-honda-all-wheel-drive-systems/

Honda has two different AWD systems that they use. The CRV and the HRV get the more basic clutch operated unit much like Mazda's and others. The Pilot, Passport and Ridgeline get the much more sophisticated i-vtm torque vectoring system that mimics the SH-AWD found in Acura products. Very different set up and results.

If the Passport had been out when we got the CX-9 I may have gone that way just because of the superior AWD system. We will never use a 3rd row so the Pilot would never have been a consideration as it really does feel like a mini-van but still that AWD system makes it handle better than it has a right to. Just watch a few reviews on line. The CX-9 blows away the Pilot and Passport in the looks department both inside and out and the steering feel and ride is just better in my opinion. The other thing in the CX-9's favor is the 9 speed in the Honda products is not as good as Mazda's trusty 6 speed even though they re-tuned it after a horrible launch a couple years ago. Thankfully my Ridgeline has the older Honda 6 speed auto and it's perfect for that vehicle.

I was at the Mazda dealer here in Arizona for service and looked at and talked to a sales guy about what changes Mazda might make in the near future. Since they are the "driving matter's" brand I'd like to see them upgrade the AWD system for on road handling and it's time for a new engine of some sort. He said they are working on a new in-line 6 cylinder which would be awesome in a totally new CX-9. One can dream.

That makes sense with regards to Honda's AWD systems. I admittedly hadn't taken the time to confirm it. Like you, it's possible I would've gone for the Honda Passport if it were out when I was shopping for the CX-9. It's not quite as big as the Pilot, but it's also bigger than the CR-V or a CX-5 and has a better overall AWD system. I've used the third row a bit, but not enough to justify it.

I agree though that the CX-9 looks better and probably overall drives better (I haven't driven a Pilot or Passport) but it could still use a bit more power. I'd also like to see more of a full-time AWD setup, but I understand that would hurt gas mileage too, or at least have the rear wheels always engaged until cruising speed is attained or something as a compromise rather than always defaulting to FWD and only AWD when needed.

I'm pretty excited about the rumors of the inline-6 that Mazda is working on because I really miss my BMW 335, but I'm almost certain it'll come too late for me as I'm looking for something else after my lease on the CX-9 ends in the spring of 2021. I might consider an AWD Mazda 6 as a stopgap if that somehow comes out in time, but if not, it's looking pretty likely (at least for now) that I may leave the Mazda brand.

The CX-9 has been great and I still like it a lot, but I very rarely need the third row (less than a handful of times a year) and I want something with a bit more "go" to it. I just got too spoiled by the 335 (in terms of power but also xDrive) and it doesn't help that my wife got an SUV and we don't have much reason to have two.
 
Last edited:
:
North of Toronto
:
2019 CX-9 Sig
That makes sense with regards to Honda's AWD systems. I admittedly hadn't taken the time to confirm it. Like you, it's possible I would've gone for the Honda Passport if it were out when I was shopping for the CX-9. It's not quite as big as the Pilot, but it's also bigger than the CR-V or a CX-5 and has a better overall AWD system. I've used the third row a bit, but not enough to justify it.

I agree though that the CX-9 looks better and probably overall drives better (I haven't driven a Pilot or Passport) but it could still use a bit more power. I'd also like to see more of a full-time AWD setup, but I understand that would hurt gas mileage too, or at least have the rear wheels always engaged until cruising speed is attained or something as a compromise rather than always defaulting to FWD and only AWD when needed.

I'm pretty excited about the rumors of the inline-6 that Mazda is working on because I really miss my BMW 335, but I'm almost certain it'll come too late for me as I'm looking for something else after my lease on the CX-9 ends in the spring of 2021. I might consider an AWD Mazda 6 as a stopgap if that somehow comes out in time, but if not, it's looking pretty likely (at least for now) that I may leave the Mazda brand.

The CX-9 has been great and I still like it a lot, but I very rarely need the third row (less than a handful of times a year) and I want something with a bit more "go" to it. I just got too spoiled by the 335 (in terms of power but also xDrive) and it doesn't help that my wife got an SUV and we don't have much reason to have two.


Very similar situation, we now have 2 SUVs, with the cx9 being the newer. Could see us turning over crv eventually for a sedan. And also use 3rd row rarely.

I will say, the Passport is nice package overall but the interior left me thinking blah. Just seemed spartan and not luxurious. Also considered Murano, but that was lacking in cargo. And driving dynamics not as great as cx9.

As for power...most power I've had up to now so to me it's great! But I can see where other engines might have edge. Low rpm torque does help greatly to mask the fact it's a 4cyl.
 
:
Ottawa, Ontario
:
17 Mazda 6 GT
Could see us turning over crv eventually for a sedan. And also use 3rd row rarely.

Just a general comment regarding the two car family set up.
We've had two vehicles in our family for forever it seems, with both of us having needed vehicles for our jobs (both retired now).
We always had one car/sedan, and one minivan/suv. Still do.
My wife prefers to drive a car, so I drive mostly the SUV.
We also tend to renew/trade the car sooner than the van/truck. I tend to drive those until they are ready for the junk yard.
I also do my own repairs on the suv, while the wife's car gets the dealer/indy shop treatment. She doesn't trust me to fix her car...lol.
We also only have a one car garage, so guess who's vehicle gets the garaged treatment, while the other one rots outside in the snow? Yup.
This has worked for us for many years, so we'll probably stick to that formula for the foreseeable future.
Cheers and happy holidays everyone.
 
Top