Zoom-Zoom And Room Too
I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time in the Mazda CX-9, but in the few days that I did drive it, it made a favorable impression. To start with, it is nicely styled inside and out. The exterior bodywork is sculpted in a way that minimizes its large dimensions. It does not look like a seven-passenger vehicle. The inside, looks impressively upscale. My top-of-the-line Grand Touring model came with pale gray leather seats, accented with charcoal gray strips that resembled snakeskin. That may not sound appealing to some, but I thought it looked great.
The CX-9 rides on a long 113.2-inch wheelbase and has more cargo space (100.7 cu-ft) than the Honda Pilot or the Toyota Highlander. Legroom for all rows is better than average, too. The second row seats slide forward, providing more toe room for those behind them, if needed.
Although it looks similar to the smaller CX-7, it is not a stretch version of that SUV. The CX-9 sits on a larger platform that it shares with the Ford Edge. It also uses a different engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 263 horsepower. But like the CX-7, it comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Power was more than adequate on steep hills, and the automatic shifted seamlessly. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered.
On the road, the most impressive quality I observed in the CX-9 was its quietness. Cruising the freeway, there was virtually no engine sound and very little wind noise. I found that it was easy to creep up to 80 without noticing it. On city streets, it absorbed bumps well, and did not relay a lot of racket when I hit a pothole.
In the handling department, I liked the crisp steering of the CX-9 and its stable feel taking corners. And just in case the unexpected happens, Mazda equips the CX-9 with both anti-roll and anti-skid programs.
Mazda offers the CX-9 in three levels of trim, Sport Touring and Grand Touring. Pricing starts at $29,630 and ranges up to $34,470 without options.
Loads of Room
Base Price: $29,630
Engine: 3.5-ltr, DOHC, V-6
Transmission: 6-sp auto
Brakes: disc, ABS
Gas Mileage: 16-22 mpg
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