The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

MORE: Mazda Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Mazda Buyers Guide


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Although the CX-9 looks like so many others – the Chevy Traverse, Acura MDX, Lexus 400h – there is just something so proportionally accurate about this smaller version of the CX-7. It's really the perfect size for a 7-passenger crossover, inside and out.

I drove a 2009 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring with front-wheel drive, the 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine, and 6-speed sport automatic transmission with sport shift. Standards included: 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather-trimmed seats, heated 8-way driver power seating, heated power front passenger seating, leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, rain sensor wipers, 3-zone climate control. Extras were the Moonroof/Bose/Sirius Package ($1,960); Towing Package ($525); and the GT Assist Package with DVD navigation, voice recognizing and Bluetooth ($2,300). Total vehicle price came to $38,260.

A standout on the CX-9 is the Blind Spot Monitoring System that features radar sensors in each corner of the rear bumper. If a car is creeping up into your blind spot, all you have to do is cast a glance into your side mirrors. An electronic lighted image will come up in the shape of your car with your creeping neighbor. And if you have the blinker on, the blinker will emit a beeping warning sound that goes away when the car next to you passes.

Also, the key fob is in the shape of a credit card, so you can tuck it in your wallet.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The navigation screen has a very responsive touch screen (one tap does the trick). Side door panels have leather trim. Pleasing layout on dash, center cluster and console. I would have liked to see a bigger moonroof and better steering wheel control layout and materials. The second and third rows fold flat easily. I thought the cargo space was amble; I was able to help a friend move and the CX-9 packed in about 12 loads. Rear door pops up using key fob; believe it or not, this is still a hard feature to find on crossovers and it's a compete necessity for moms with groceries.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Mazda is cutting edge on solving the blind spot issue with their radar monitoring system – although many makers and models use backup cameras with screen monitors in the rear view mirror or navigation system, very few offer this particular feature using the side mirrors. The rear window visibility is better than the Nissan Murano, a main competitor. Mazdas, overall, are viewed by Consumer Reports with mixed reliability (but not the CX-9). Five-star crash ratings.

Cost Issues: The CX-9 price tag of $39,260. How does that compare with competitors? With the Chevy Traverse, $41,130 fits one more person and the navigation and Bose stereo is included in the price, but the second-row seating is hard to fold down. For $48,890, the Acura MDX's 3.7-liter engine has 300-horsepower and all-wheel drive with one the most complex yet completely user-friendly navigation systems I've experienced. A Nissan Murano with a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter engine having around the same features is $33,995 but seats just five.

Activity & Performance Ability: It's agile, quick and light, due to a well-constructed independent 4-wheel suspension. It had camber, as they say with horses. The CX-9 is a Consumer Reports recommended vehicle, noted for it's sporty handling, quietness, and the blind spot detection.

The Green Concern: This is where the CX-9 falls a bit short: 16-mpg highway and 22-mpg city driving. The V6 is just a little too big; there are other mid-size crossover competitors with a V6 that get slightly better mpg.

I get happier and happier with the Mazda lineup, as does Consumer Reports. It's the blind spot detection in the side mirrors and the overall size of the CX-9 that makes it one of my favorite mid-size crossovers.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
2008 Model Reviews

MORE: Mazda Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Mazda Buyers Guide

2008 Katrina Ramser