Review: CX-9 vs. Subaru Ascent

JPL

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2018 Mazda6, CX-9
I read this review this morning too. Good comparison as the Ascent is also a no V6 3-row. Great to see another 4-banger-only to change the old thinking that such larger vehicles must have at least a V6. Volvo XC-90 is the other and it's even a class above.

These models have available turbo-4's (that I can think of):

Ford Explorer
Chevy Traverse
VW Atlas
Toyota Highlander (non turbo 4)
GMC Acadia (non turbo 4)
Audi Q7

Yet most people on the internet are stuck with the old thought that these are too heavy for 4 cylinder engines and they say they can't consider the CX-9 because of it.

Anyway, Autoblog names the Ascent the winner for the usual crossover reasons. More space and it's also a bit cheaper which more buyers in the segment may lean towards. They themselves as car lovers would likely go with the CX-9 everytime.
 
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2016 cx-9 signature
The Subaru looks as if it might as well be a minivan. Styling is too conservative. I compare it to a loaf of bread much like the pathfinder and highlander which all are just minivans without the practicality of a real minivan. Might as well buy a minivan.
 
Yet most people on the internet are stuck with the old thought that these are too heavy for 4 cylinder engines and they say they can't consider the CX-9 because of it.
And now Chevy is putting a 4-banger turbo into its Silverado, a segment where owners often find a V6 to be too small.

Anyway, Autoblog names the Ascent the winner for the usual crossover reasons. More space and it's also a bit cheaper which more buyers in the segment may lean towards. They themselves as car lovers would likely go with the CX-9 everytime.
As Autoblog notes, convenience/practicality is what we sacrifice for a good looking, fun-to-drive 3-row CUV. It's not like the CX-9 is impractical; it's just less practical (and less interesting) than a Pilot or a Highlander. And I'm fine with that.
 
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2017 Crystal Mica Blue GT CX9
I liked the Ascent (related note> what is it with these names...Atlas, Explorer, Ascent?) They are not trying to be something they are not, so Subie owners with growing families will find this change familiar. I liked the tech package as well as the premium seats. I also thought they did well on cargo space behind the 3rd row. I give it a solid 7.5/10

That said, I couldn't live with the styling.
 
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2014 Mazda3 S GT auto, 2008 MX5 6-speed
The hilarious thing about the comparison article is the writer demotes the CX-9 because it has no paddle shifters. So large, heavy vehicles are often driven at 8/10ths on winding roads at hyper-legal speeds? Uh, no, I would bet the percentage of CX-9 or any large SUV owners who use paddle shifters every day is so tiny, it'd be laughable.
My 3 weighs less than 3100 lbs and after 4 years, I've used the paddle shifters only twice.
 
The hilarious thing about the comparison article is the writer demotes the CX-9 because it has no paddle shifters. So large, heavy vehicles are often driven at 8/10ths on winding roads at hyper-legal speeds? Uh, no, I would bet the percentage of CX-9 or any large SUV owners who use paddle shifters every day is so tiny, it'd be laughable.
My 3 weighs less than 3100 lbs and after 4 years, I've used the paddle shifters only twice.
My wife's MDX has paddle shifters, and I've used them three, maybe four, times, and even then it was only to play around with the system, never with any degree of seriousness.
 
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SF Bay Area
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'17 CX-9 Signature
I have to admit, the Subaru looks pretty good, especially inside. Exterior is very bland for my taste, but i can totally see loving the interior if it is sufficiently quiet on the road. This is the best looking Subaru interior so far.

One thing that is not mentioned in the comparison is the AWD system capabilities. I am willing to bet that Subaru will win there easily.
The AWD in the CX-9 is far from impressive in snow or any form of off-road. With all-season tires, in snow/ice the CX-9 behaves like a FWD car, nothing more. It can easily get stuck going uphill if the roads are not perfect. :( I invested in set of Nokians for next winter, so i am very curious to see how the car behaves with better rubber.
 
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2016 cx-9 signature
The hilarious thing about the comparison article is the writer demotes the CX-9 because it has no paddle shifters. So large, heavy vehicles are often driven at 8/10ths on winding roads at hyper-legal speeds? Uh, no, I would bet the percentage of CX-9 or any large SUV owners who use paddle shifters every day is so tiny, it'd be laughable.
My 3 weighs less than 3100 lbs and after 4 years, I've used the paddle shifters only twice.

I agree. I dont find paddle shifters very intuitive. I much prefer using the shift knob to select gears since im used to driving a 5 speed manual.
 
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Ottawa, Ontario
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17 Mazda 6 GT
The hilarious thing about the comparison article is the writer demotes the CX-9 because it has no paddle shifters. So large, heavy vehicles are often driven at 8/10ths on winding roads at hyper-legal speeds? Uh, no, I would bet the percentage of CX-9 or any large SUV owners who use paddle shifters every day is so tiny, it'd be laughable.
My 3 weighs less than 3100 lbs and after 4 years, I've used the paddle shifters only twice.

I've had my 6GT for about 7 months now, and have never used the paddle shifters after the first week (and that was just to play around with them).
Totally a gimmick, and useless on traditional automatic transmissions.

What's even more laughable, is paddle shifters on a car with a CVT. (Honda anyone?) Really?
Pretending to shift gears in a car that has a transmission....with no gears? Puleeese.
 
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‘17 CX9 Sig/ ‘19 6
I've had my 6GT for about 7 months now, and have never used the paddle shifters after the first week (and that was just to play around with them).
Totally a gimmick, and useless on traditional automatic transmissions.

What's even more laughable, is paddle shifters on a car with a CVT. (Honda anyone?) Really?
Pretending to shift gears in a car that has a transmission....with no gears? Puleeese.

Haha...totally agree! I used to drive a Hybrid company car with CVT and wasn't and will never be a fan of it. My current company vehicle is an Escape with traditional 6 auto and a lot better than CVT - though it has paddle shifters which I rarely rarely ever use! I get the paddle shifters in sports cars and super/hyper cars and formula one cars as they do have advantages on track but just in normal daily driving? really? seriously? I know it's nice to have in vehicles but not a need to have...
 
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2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
The Ascent actually caught my attention when they first announced it and I found myself considering it vs. the CX-9. I was worried though that it wouldn't be much fun to drive, relatively speaking anyway, as a 3-row SUV. The driving experience is a big reason why I'm still aiming to get a CX-9, but it looks like Subaru deserves some credit for making an SUV that's decent to drive from the reviews I've read. That said, the light steering I also read about is a bit of a turnoff though, as the steering is pretty nice and heavy in my current vehicle. The CX-9 I test drove last winter had great steering feel and weight to it, which makes a big difference to me.

All things considered, it's a good offering from Subaru. The CX-9 is still the vehicle for me though for now. The fact that I'll be able to get the CX-9 for a better price is also a bonus, since the Ascent is likely to be difficult to get a decent discount on here in the upper midwest, at least for the first year of it being on sale.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
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Canada
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'18 CX-9 Signature
Overall I thought it was a great comparison. What I'm a little unclear on is why they feel that having the choice to use 87 or 91-93 octane fuel is a negative. This is a nice bonus in my eyes.
 
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2018 CX-9 SIGNATURE
In most of the Ascent photos I've seen, the tires look too small for the body.

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2017 Mazda CX-9 GT
To me it's looks like the Outback on steroids.. which to most Suburu fans is a big bonus. It will sell well, especially in NE where Subarus are everywhere. Certainly way better than the awful B9 Tribeca they came out with years ago....

Not sure if I need 19 cupholders, but he Dash mounted 180 degrees camera is a nice feature... I don't care much for paddle mounted shifters, I think CVTs are bleh (I had a Murano with CVT and now also have a Rogue with CVT, and I will avoid CVTs now)..

This will keep Outback and Forrester owners from looking at other 3 rows CUVs
 

phxzoom

Member
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2016 CX-9 Signature Machine Gray / 2018 MX-5 GT Machine Gray
I’m sorry, but I don’t feel like paddle shifters are a MUST HAVE on an SUV. Not even close. You can easily use your manual shifter, when needed. I can see how they could be required on a sports car, or even a sporty coupe/sedan. But on an SUV??? Really??? You have got to be kidding me. I’d still pick my paddle shifter less 2016 CX-9 Sig over any similarly priced SUV any day of the week, and three times on Sundays. To me it’s not even close.

Honestly, the only things I wish my 2016 had was front parking assistance sensors (now available on 2018’s) and a larger moonroof. But I have no regrets. There will always be a compromise when buying a car.

Congrats on all of you getting your paddle shifters on your Ascent (or any other SUV). Go ahead and enjoy them once every 5 years. Sorry to say that I’m not jealous at all.
 
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Mazda CX-9 GT AWD
The hilarious thing about the comparison article is the writer demotes the CX-9 because it has no paddle shifters. So large, heavy vehicles are often driven at 8/10ths on winding roads at hyper-legal speeds? Uh, no, I would bet the percentage of CX-9 or any large SUV owners who use paddle shifters every day is so tiny, it'd be laughable.
My 3 weighs less than 3100 lbs and after 4 years, I've used the paddle shifters only twice.

I hate paddle shifters. My husband's outback has them and they drive me nuts.

One feature his car has that I love are the folding crossbars. I don't see why they weren't included on the ascent.

Then again, since my oil drinking forester had tranny problems starting at 10k and our '13 outback now has an extended warranty on it's transmission, I'll be staying far, far away!