2016~2023 Ultimate “Grand Tourer”

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2016 CX-9 GT
I’m not really sure if this is going to end up being a build thread or die out really quick or whatever but here goes.

Just yesterday, we did a 1k mile road trip in our CX-9. Total time on the road was 17 hours with 14.5 being actual drive time. No issues to report and it is the best touring vehicle we have owned so far. All the extra driver assistance tech made the drive very easy with the driver basically being required to steer and stop at rest areas. However, I am a tinkerer at heart and can’t leave things alone. I think there are always things to improve and ways to do better than OEM. This brings me to the list of potential “upgrades” and changes that I’ve been thinking about since I bought the CX-9.

1. Chrome delete both interior and exterior. This is going to start as soon as we get back home. I dislike exterior chrome because I think it’s cheapens the appearance. This differs from generation to generation. I know my parents like chrome because they grew up with black being a base model color. I grew up with manufacturers sticking chrome on every vehicle to make is seem more upscale. The interior chrome became a problem for the driver while the sun was out. It is perfect for reflecting the sun around the driver’s sunglasses and right into their eyes.

2. Comma.ai. I’ve seen a few people post about using this in their Mazdas. It looks like a cool enhancement to our existing safety features and would make long freeway drives that much easier.

3. Suspension. I have my eye on Ceika. The goal would be to improve upon the comfort that the OEM suspension has. To that end, I am not sure if air suspension or their comfort tuned coil overs would be best. I suspect that air suspension would ride the nicest but the coil overs would last longer.

4. Wheels and tires. I don’t recall who but I believe one of the forum members weighed the stock wheels in at 39 pounds. I would like to go lighter but am unsure if I want to go with 18” wheels or stick with 20”. Going any bigger is a non starter as we do long drives and road conditions are often poor.

5. Lighting. The OEM lows and highs are good. The OEM fogs are the worst I’ve ever owned. I have a plan to replace the OEM fogs with some Rigid SAE Fogs that I have already. Along with the chrome delete, that’s one of the first things I’m going to tackle when we get home. As for lows and highs, I have 4 individual Koito bi-LEDs from 2017 Toyota Corollas that I am toying around with turning into a low/high light bar. If I don’t go that route, I have two Rigid SAE Driving light pods I will be using to supplement the high beams. I also have a Rigid 10” flood light bar that will go in the front if I don’t use the Koitos, or be added as an auxiliary reverse light if I do use the Koitos.

If anyone has any experience with any of the items I have mentioned, please let me know whether it was good or bad. Any other input regarding the above plan would be appreciated too!
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Two things that I’ve already done that I would highly recommend are the leather wrapped steering wheel, and Canvasback for the cargo area.

The steering wheel is the place you interact with the most when driving, so having a nice feeling steering wheel is great. It didn’t get overly hot despite being in the sun, and it feels much softer than the OEM wheel.
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We have a husky and the Canvasback just collects all his fur. Picture was before it was vacuumed but it is much much easier to clean than the carpet. Plus, since it traps the fur, it doesn’t fly around the inside the cabin like it would with a rubber mat.
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2018 CX-9 GT
Good wish list! I like it. Let us know how they turn out.

Since you are tackling the fog lights firsts. Have you tried aiming them higher ? I have not done it yet, but they do have an adjustment screw to aim them vertically. I just posted how to do it. 2016~2021 - How to: Fog light adjustment
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Good wish list! I like it. Let us know how they turn out.

Since you are tackling the fog lights firsts. Have you tried aiming them higher ? I have not done it yet, but they do have an adjustment screw to aim them vertically. I just posted how to do it. 2016~2021 - How to: Fog light adjustment
Yep. I did an oil change and aimed the fog lights higher on Friday. Road trip on Saturday. I also covered them in amber film so it would be easier to see where the light was. We had plenty of night driving and there was still no real difference between having them on and having them off
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
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Canada
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'18 CX-9 Signature
Regarding suspension, I've only dealt with Ceika on the customer service side (was bugging them about air suspension options and a partial sponsorship pitch 😜), but they were a pleasure to speak with. Another option for coilovers/air suspension is Squeakycleanair in Toronto, Canada. Personally, I've found that coilovers on my other cars resulted in a more firm ride that is slightly more jarring. Totally manageable on my Accord and my IS250, but I could tell the difference for sure. This time around, I think I'd want to do air suspension just to see the difference in ride quality for myself.

Stock 20s weigh 39.5 lbs each. If you go to 18s, the difference in ride quality is noticeable as the bigger sidewall soaks up the road imperfections better, but you'll also notice a bit of a mushier feel in the handling. At least, this is the difference I felt when I had a Sport model for a loaner for a day. I personally would stick with 20s and go to a lighter aftermarket wheel.
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Regarding suspension, I've only dealt with Ceika on the customer service side (was bugging them about air suspension options and a partial sponsorship pitch 😜), but they were a pleasure to speak with. Another option for coilovers/air suspension is Squeakycleanair in Toronto, Canada. Personally, I've found that coilovers on my other cars resulted in a more firm ride that is slightly more jarring. Totally manageable on my Accord and my IS250, but I could tell the difference for sure. This time around, I think I'd want to do air suspension just to see the difference in ride quality for myself.

Stock 20s weigh 39.5 lbs each. If you go to 18s, the difference in ride quality is noticeable as the bigger sidewall soaks up the road imperfections better, but you'll also notice a bit of a mushier feel in the handling. At least, this is the difference I felt when I had a Sport model for a loaner for a day. I personally would stick with 20s and go to a lighter aftermarket wheel.

This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve done lift kits which obviously meant different spring rates and shock size, dampening, etc but I haven’t ever changed suspension just to get a different feel than OEM. I was speccing out their air suspension and that is a lot of money. I can see why you were going for partial sponsorship 😂

One thing I am worried about with lighter wheels and tires is them not matching the stock suspension which may result in a worse ride. I also haven’t found any 18” or 20” wheels in bronze or gold that I like. But knowing that there is a noticeable difference between 18” and 20” on our cars helps to narrow it down from two sizes to one.

I’ll probably be focused on painting and lighting for at least a few weeks and will be looking for wheels in the meantime.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
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Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve done lift kits which obviously meant different spring rates and shock size, dampening, etc but I haven’t ever changed suspension just to get a different feel than OEM. I was speccing out their air suspension and that is a lot of money. I can see why you were going for partial sponsorship 😂

One thing I am worried about with lighter wheels and tires is them not matching the stock suspension which may result in a worse ride. I also haven’t found any 18” or 20” wheels in bronze or gold that I like. But knowing that there is a noticeable difference between 18” and 20” on our cars helps to narrow it down from two sizes to one.

I’ll probably be focused on painting and lighting for at least a few weeks and will be looking for wheels in the meantime.

I'll be watching this thread to see what you decide on for wheels.. I'm currently trying to decide whether I want to fix my 22s or go back to 20s, and I'm having a hard time finding 20s in a style that I like.
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
The tire selection in 18" is more limited than 20". If you have some favorite tires, check that they're available in the 18" size.
255/65/18 is the size I’d go with if I was to do 18” wheels. They’ve got 3 types of 3PMSF all season tires available from what I’ve found. I’d be fine with the Wildpeak Trails or the Assurance Weatherreadys. BUT, after @sm1ke sharing that there is a noticeable degradation in steering feel, I don’t think I’ll be going with 18”
 
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21 CX-9 GT
Two things that I’ve already done that I would highly recommend are the leather wrapped steering wheel, and Canvasback for the cargo area.

The steering wheel is the place you interact with the most when driving, so having a nice feeling steering wheel is great. It didn’t get overly hot despite being in the sun, and it feels much softer than the OEM wheel. View attachment 300463

We have a husky and the Canvasback just collects all his fur. Picture was before it was vacuumed but it is much much easier to clean than the carpet. Plus, since it traps the fur, it doesn’t fly around the inside the cabin like it would with a rubber mat.
View attachment 300464
Do you have a part number or a link to that steering wheel?
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
We got home at 1 AM last night after I got to drive for 10 hours almost straight. I was very pleasantly surprised to be getting close to the EPA estimated highway MPG of 28. We got 26.5 MPG at 69-74 MPH with the car fully loaded and almost 400 miles in between fill ups. I have a couple updates in my quest to build the best grand tourer.

1. Wheels - I have looked through all of the bronze/gold wheel options from Black Rhino, Vossen, Konig, TSW, Tirerack, CarID, American Racing, Volk, and Enkei (might be missing a few) and the only ones that are ok with both me and my wife are the Enkei TSR-X's and the TE37's. I won't be spending $4,000 on wheels so the TE37's are out. I am not in love with the TSR-X's so I will continue to look for something else, although I may just settle on those.

2a. Lighting (Low beams) - I got to drive in the dark for about 4 hours with low beams on and auto high beams. The low beams are adequate, but mine need to be adjusted. They are currently lighting up the foreground too much and I was easily out driving them. I will probably abandon the auxiliary low beam idea and just use the OEM lows. It is also the safer option in regards to being potentially pulled over.

2b. Lighting (high beams) - The auto high beams are one of the most annoying features I have ever experienced. The longest they stayed on was 10 seconds before detecting some reflection on a sign and turning off. I am lazy and don't want to have to mess with light settings while driving so I will probably just leave the high beams off. The auxiliary driving lights I have are legal to use wherever you can use high beams so I might just wire those in to be switched by either the OEM stalk or an additional button on the panel to the left of the steering wheel.

2c. Lighting (fog lights) - I have some fog lights I was going to use and was planning on starting that project this weekend, BUT Diode Dynamics (probably my favorite automotive lighting company) released their SSC1's for preorder this morning. The fog lights I had are 3 inches square so they would have to be moved up to the black plastic insert that is just above the current fog lights. The new SSC1's are 2 inches square but look to have a 1 3/4 inch lens which I think would fit much better in the OEM location. They also come with a backlight so they could be run in conjuction with the OEM DRLs for a cooler looking daytime light profile. I may wait until September to do anything with fog lights but I do like to tinker so I may also end up making the ones I already own work and then swap to the SSC1's when they are released.

3. Tires - I knew that the tires that were on the vehicle would need to be replaced soon (I think they are the OEM tires), but they had pretty bad wet traction and will be replaced before any future trips in the CX-9
 
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Mazda CX-9 Signature
When looking for wheels, be sure to pay attention to the load ratings. I couldn't find the ratings on Enkei website.

Edit: fitment industry lists the 20s at 1500lb so the Enkei should be fine.
 
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2018 CX-9 GT
Interesting, my auto high beams work flawlessly but can be annoying in some situations (twisty roads are one where you don’t see incoming traffic coming until the last minute).

Regardless, you can turn the auto high beam function off. At which point they work like regular high beams. (turn them on and off manually with the stalk).
 
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2021 CX-9 Sig
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2021 CX-5 GT
Interesting, my auto high beams work flawlessly but can be annoying in some situations (twisty roads are one where you don’t see incoming traffic coming until the last minute is one).

Regardless, you can turn the auto high beam function off. At which point they work like regular high beams. (turn them on and off manually with the stalk).

Yeah, I like mine as well. The only bug, and this was also on my 2018 CX-9, is that if you have auto high beams and auto wipers on, if the wipers come on first, the auto high beam does not work. A little annoying but otherwise, I find them to be great.
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Chrome delete has begun. Starting with the interior for now. All door cards are off and stripped down as far as I can get them and the center shifter stack is removed and stripped down. I figured I would cover the horrible piano black at the same time as the chrome. I have heard that bleach will strip the chrome off of the plastic so I have some of the chrome sitting in a bucket overnight to see what happens. If that doesn’t work, I will probably just sand it a bit and then hit it with epoxy primer. I also still need to remove the chrome around the center HVAC vents and the push button start but I am unsure how to do that and was only willing to pry so hard.
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sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
Chrome delete has begun. Starting with the interior for now. All door cards are off and stripped down as far as I can get them and the center shifter stack is removed and stripped down. I figured I would cover the horrible piano black at the same time as the chrome. I have heard that bleach will strip the chrome off of the plastic so I have some of the chrome sitting in a bucket overnight to see what happens. If that doesn’t work, I will probably just sand it a bit and then hit it with epoxy primer. I also still need to remove the chrome around the center HVAC vents and the push button start but I am unsure how to do that and was only willing to pry so hard.

Nice! Any chance you'd be willing to do a quick how to on the door panel/shifter/steering wheel removal? I know I'd find it useful when I eventually replace the door speakers.
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Nice! Any chance you'd be willing to do a quick how to on the door panel/shifter/steering wheel removal? I know I'd find it useful when I eventually replace the door speakers.
Sure! I’ll see what I can put together while reassembling
 
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2016 CX-9 GT
Chrome is now satin black. Piano black is now brushed black aluminum. Not in love with the center stack and having to leave the shifter letters exposed. Everything else looks great IMO. I still have the center AC vent, start button, and the cup holder chrome to deal with

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