Much I agree with here. Although I'm not sure here in ontario if the general public sees Mazda as approaching premium, certainly in upper trims I'd agree they are, and so think many auto journalists. Not sure the general public should be trusted anyway, when one looks at sales numbers.Again, we should keep in mind that Mazda is not really a premium brand. IMO, they are currently sitting between mainstream and premium. I would slot them in right below Acura. That said, I have to wonder if maybe they're holding certain features back in order to add them in as "new features" in later MYs? They could be doing this to stretch out the lifecycle of this gen before the next overhaul. Similar to them adding power folding mirrors, captain's chairs, power liftgate to the late models. I can see them adding a pano roof and a bump in hp when they do a mid-cycle refresh. To be honest, I wouldn't even notice if the CX-9 didn't have a sunroof at all.
Mazda definitely has their work cut out for them, walking the tightrope between mainstream and luxury.
But brand recognition is a weird thing. I feel here subaru has some respect as a "better" brand here, over say nissan, hyundai, etc (no offense to fans of those two). But in USA I've read it's an outlier, a quirky brand. Someone even referred recently here to it as being associated with granola types, and that seems to happen more in USA than here. Subaru in GTA has def street cred.
I hate the holding back of features for addition later, but I get it. Ultimately they need to ensure they're doing something new each model yr.
At end of day, if auto journalists need to debate if Mazda is approaching those premium brands overall, it's a good thing as they are not really approaching them on price. Better to have the question debated than not. Value is there.
It is a tightrope, I say good on them for walking the line. If they were to give it all, and charge for it, would be a major brand rehaul or new nameplate. They didn't go that route 30 yrs ago, so this is how they broaden the customer base. I have a cx9 and had a cx7 (came close on a 6 but wife overruled) so I'm certainly happy with the brand, no way i'd trade cx9's attributes for these missing features. There's prob a competitor out there offering these missing features, but I wasn't tempted to check in detail as this thing drives like it "wants" to go.