2010 Mazda CX-9Posted on April 20th, 2010
Seven-passenger crossover vehicle gets refreshed styling
By Nina Russin
Let’s face it: in the real world, everyone has to carry stuff. Rich people can afford to own a family car for everyday use, and a sports car to use on the weekend. But in the current economy, most of us are happy to own one car in good working order.
Since a new car is typically the second biggest purchase an individual makes in his or her lifetime, it’s nice if that car makes its owner happy. That’s where the Mazda CX-9 comes in.
Mazda’s seven-passenger crossover vehicle is a stylish and fun to drive. With pricing starting under $30,000 for the base model, it’s also affordable.
This year, designers refreshed the CX-9 exterior with a new grille and front lamps, and new trim in back. The interior gets new chrome accents, different fabric, and a more versatile center console.
Power comes from a 3.7-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The Mazda CX-9 comes in three grades: sport, touring and grand touring. Buyers in four-season climates can add all-wheel drive, giving the CX-9 better traction as compared to the front-wheel drive model.
A big car that feels like a small car
This week, I had a chance to drive the touring model, priced from $30,555. Options on the test car include an upgraded audio system, power liftgate, moonroof and rearview camera.
The touring model comes well equipped with comfort and convenience features, including remote keyless entry, a heated driver’s seat with eight-way power adjustments, leather trim, three-zone climate control and Bluetooth interface.
Engineers gave the six-cylinder engine a long, flat torque curve, making the CX-9 perform like a much smaller car than it actually is. Merging into high-speed traffic is a non-issue. So is passing slower vehicles on two-lane roads or the highway.
A six-speed automatic transmission enhances fuel economy. The front-wheel drive model averages 18 miles-per-gallon according to EPA estimates: not bad for a car weighing 4330 pounds. My average fuel economy for the 150-mile test drive was 19.3 miles-per-gallon.
Eighteen-inch alloy wheels on the test car give the CX-9 an ample footprint, enhancing its high-speed stability. The rack-and-pinion steering system has softer response than Mazda’s sports cars, but keeps the driver well in control of the situation.
The same goes for the suspension. I noticed no roll driving the car around town, both on surface streets and the highway. The chassis felt quite stable going through cloverleaf entrance ramps, and maneuvering through traffic.
The chassis felt softer on the Bush Highway east of town. The two-lane road has some uneven surfaces, steep hills and sharp turns. I had no problem controlling the vehicle, but was aware of the weight transfer, due to the car’s high center of gravity.
Visibility is good around the car’s perimeter. The optional rearview camera eliminates blind spots to the rear of the vehicle. Over-the-shoulder visibility is better to the right than the left, but acceptable in both directions. The side mirrors do a good job of minimizing blind spots without interfering with the driver’s forward view.
The CX-9’s roomy interior is ideal for families with active lifestyles. I found the captain’s chairs for the driver and front passenger comfortable for trips lasting over two hours.
The second row can hold up to three adults, with a surprising amount of legroom in the center position. Separate temperature controls and vents behind the center console keep passengers seated in back comfortable.
The second-row seats slide forward all the way to the front seats, making for excellent access and egress for the third row. The rear seats are for children only: there is not enough head or legroom for adults. I would like to have seen some ceiling vents to circulate air through the back of the cabin.
A tilt steering wheel helps smaller drivers maintain a clear forward view. Audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. Red-on-black gauges are easy to read in daylight and at night.
Temperature and audio controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. A digital display on top of the stack includes time, temperature settings, distance to empty, average speed and fuel economy readings.
The rearview camera image is displayed on the audio information screen. I would highly recommend this option for parents with small children, who might wander into the driver’s blind spots behind the car.
All passengers have ample access to cupholders: in the center console, a fold-down armrest in the second row, and outboard of the third-row seats. Twelve-volt power points in the center console and cargo area recharge portable electronic devices.
Overhead reading lamps up front, and dome lamps over the second and third rows illuminate the cabin at night. A locking glovebox provides secure storage for the first row.
Second and third-row seats are easy to fold flat. It is not necessary to remove the headrests to fold the seats down, so the CX-9 meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
Cargo space is limited with the third-row seats in place. There is enough room for a few grocery bags, but larger cargo won’t fit. Unfortunately, roof rails are not standard equipment. An under-floor storage area keeps valuables out of sight.
The CX-9 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with antilock braking, traction, stability and roll-over control. Mazda’s standard three year/ 36,000 mile factory warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
Mazda builds the CX-9 at its Hiroshima, Japan assembly plant.
Likes: An affordably priced crossover vehicle with a high level of safety, comfort and convenience features, and seating for up to seven passengers.
Dislike: Roof rails are not standard equipment.
Model: CX-9 Touring FWD
Base price: $30,555
As tested: $34,327
Horsepower: 273 @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 4250 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 16/22 mpg city/highway
Comments: MSRP does not include a $750 delivery charge.
3 responses to “2010 Mazda CX-9”
it looks so great to have for big family.
Seven-passenger crossover vehicle is good for traveling. Versatile interior is also excellent.
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I love my CX-9. Contrary to the above critique the third row does fit an adult. Just not a tall one. My husband and I are both under 5″8 and have both had a turn sitting in the back. I wouldn’t recommend it for long trips, but in a pinch it works fine. Great vehicle can’t wait to drive in the New England snow.
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