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August 12, 2009 > Auto Review: Mazda CX-9

Auto Review: Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is Mazda's three-row SUV. As you may know, Ford owns part of Mazda and both the Ford Edge and the Mazda CX-9 share the platform of the previous Mazda6.

Our test CX-9 was the top of the line Grand Touring model. All three CX-9 models (Sport and Touring are the other two) share the same body shell and front wheel drive train except that an all-wheel-drive version is available as an option. The only differences between the models are trim and added optional features.

The CX-9 is powered by an all aluminum 3.7-liter, V-6 engine. It puts out 273 HP and 270 foot pounds of torque so it has plenty of power to blast around the countryside. The 6-speed automatic transmission delivers 16/22 mpg (on regular unleaded gas) in the front wheel-drive versions. The all-wheel-drive system produced 1 mpg less in both EPA test cycles.

The CX-9's interior has its plusses and minuses. The navigation system is very good and is easy to use even for a "non-computer" person. It is easy to set up and load in destinations. Following its directions was a snap.

The front seats were very comfortable and provided good support. On the negative side, the third-row seats were very tight for adults and had little head room. But this should not be a surprise for a vehicle the size of the CX-9 because it is smaller than many vehicles with three rows of seats.

The CX-9 handled well for an SUV. It had very little body roll and was stable in high winds. It did ride rougher that I expected, and the road noise was loud and annoying.

Our Grand Touring CX-9 had Mazda's Blind Spot Monitoring System that alerts the driver of vehicles that he/she may not be able to see in the mirrors. Small radar units on both side of the CX-9 send out beams to test to see if there are other vehicles in your blind spots to the sides and rear of your vehicle; when the radar system detects something, a red light flashes in your side mirrors to warn you not to change lanes. This is a great safety feature and can definitely help prevent accidents. This system is not available on the Sport and Touring models.

CX-9 Sport starts at an MSRP of $30,570. The Touring model starts at $32,465. Our Grand Touring CX-9 started at $34,555 and with a moonroof, satellite radio, better sound system, navigation system, and backup camera, the total cost was $39,260. If you want all-wheel-drive, the additional cost is about $1,400. You can also add a Mazda rear seat DVD entertainment system.

Mazda gives the CX-9 an impressive array of safety systems and equipment. The front seats get a full set of airbags. Curtain airbags cover all three rows of seats. Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, and Tire Pressure Monitoring systems are standard on all models.

There are a number of three row SUVs on the market today and CX-9 is a worthy competitor in the market and is recommended by Consumer Reports.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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