With new second-row captain's chairs.
Having introduced the second-generation CX-9 back in 2016, Mazda's three-row crossover has stayed largely the same. For the 2020 model year, both the CX-9 and the Mazda6 have earned IIHS Top Safety Pick+ certification thanks to their new and improved headlights but this is only the start of Mazda's improvements. While it isn't a significant facelift, the 2020 CX-9 offers plenty of upgrades over the 2019 model.
For starters, Mazda will now offer a second-row captain's chair option, which will replace the rear bench with two separate seats. This effectively limits the CX-9 to a six-seater but it will keep your kids in the second-row separated so they are less likely to cause a ruckus. Mazda has also added a hands-free, power liftgate on Grand Touring and Signature trims to make opening the hatch easier when your hands are full.
Power still comes from a Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 250 horsepower on 93 octane gasoline or 227 horsepower on 87 octane. For 2020, torque has been increased from 310 to 320 lb-ft on 93 octane gas while the engine will still provide 310 lb-ft on 87 octane.
Like the rest of Mazda's lineup, the CX-9 continues to use a six-speed automatic transmission rather than a more modern unit with eight or more gears. Front-wheel-drive comes standard while i-Activ all-wheel-drive is standard on the Signature trim and optional on all others.
G-Vectoring Control Plus now comes standard for 2020, helping to improve steering response while turning. Mazda has also replaced the traditional traction control button with a new off-road traction assist feature, which can reduce engine torque and increase the brake force on any wheels without traction.
Pricing for the 2020 CX-9 starts at $33,790 for the base Sport trim. Stepping up to the Touring costs $35,610 and the Touring Premium Package adds captain's chairs with integrated cupholders and USB chargers in the center console for $2,100. Stepping up to the Grand Touring trim for $41,450 adds heating to those rear captains chairs while the top-of-the-line Signature trim costs $46,115 and includes AWD. AWD can also be added to any of the lesser trim levels for $1,900.