At the very top of Mazda’s SUV range sits the 2023 CX-9 Azami LE AWD. Starting from $81,941 drive away, it’s a not inexpensive vehicle from the traditionally modest Japanese brand. It’s worth noting here though that the CX-9’s days are numbered.
Its ultra-luxury replacement, in the form of the CX-90, is tipped to land locally in August. For now though, this is the brand’s largest SUV, and in this case, the range topping variant.
It, like the rest of the range, is powered by Mazda’s 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, delivering 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission that’s paired with this engine is standard across the entire range.
Fuel economy is a claimed 9.0-litres/100km although we averaged closer to 11.0-litres/100km. Load it up with people and gear though, and you will find yourself north of 12.0-litres/100km.
To understand the level of luxury the Azami LE offers though, we sort of need to explain what the other near-the-top choices get first. The GT gets 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and heated rear seats.
It also features a 10.25-inch infotainment display, wireless phone charging, a power tailgate and a Bose 12-speaker sound system. There’s a black leather interior, but Natural Stone leather is on offer as a no cost option.
Up from there is the GT SP, which has a black grille and wheels, and burgundy upholstery with red stitching. The next level up is the Azami, featuring a titanium grille, adaptive LED headlights, and a tailpipe with a wide diameter.
The seats have a ventilated feature, and there are two upholstery choices: Walnut Brown or White Nappa leather. There’s also wood panelling, a heated leather steering wheel, and a 360-degree monitor.
Now, take all the best bits of these three, rip out the standard bench seat second row and replace them with captain’s chairs. That makes the Azami LE a six-seater, rather than seven. It also grabs a second row centre console.
It’s luxurious, particularly with the White Nappa leather of our tester. There’s soft materials everywhere, contrasted by wood-grain and polished aluminium. It’s clean and contemporary, and there’s plenty of technology too, although some of it feels dated.
That includes a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s not a touchscreen and is operated by a control dial in the centre of the console.
The screen is exceptionally clear, but Mazda’s operating system is quite dark. This makes it difficult to operate while driving. In a nice touch though, the climate controls use knobs and buttons. You’ll also find a semi-digital instrument cluster.
Divided into three separate gauges to resemble older vehicles, it offers a decent amount of information. There’s also a head-up display. If we can fault the interior, it’s in the quilted seats, which while super comfortable, could benefit from seat bolsters or seat extenders.
The heating and ventilation setups are a bonus though. The captain’s chairs in the second row are comfortable and look lush, but do highlight the fact this is no longer a seven-seater. On the plus side, there’s plenty of room for your legs and head in row two.
Boot space with all the seats up is 230-litres, which expands to 810-litres with the third row stowed. On the road, the CX-9 Azami LE offers an incredibly polished driving experience, although it does act oddly while trying to find traction on shaky terrain.
The engine works in a similar way, but can get fairly loud when pushed. The steering system feels light although lacks a little in providing feedback, while the big SUV turns in nicely through corners. As one might expect, there’s a little body roll as well.
A space-saving spare tyre can be found in the boot, and the CX-9 in this form is good for 2.0-tonnes of braked towing. Mazda’s cutting-edge safety package is fitted in its full glory too, and includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane keep assist.
The soon to be superseded 2023 Mazda CX-9 Azami LE comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and a range of service plans are available. It’s available in ten colours, including including Machine Grey, Polymetal Grey, and Soul Red Crystal metallic.
Overall, it’s a big SUV that offers refined driving characteristics, especially if you plan to keep in on the blacktop. You can find out more and build your own on the Mazda Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Mazda CX-9 Azami LE, contact your local Mazda dealer.