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2010 Mazda CX-9

SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyers Guide


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Mazda CX-9 could easily get lost in the sea of large-size 3-row crossovers. So what makes this big guy stand out? First, the interior craftsmanship offered by what is essentially a simpler brand. Next, the CX-9 offers a highly responsive and fun V6 engine. Count in a revised audio system. And finally, a very decent base price of $28,805.

I drove a 2010 Mazda CX-9 with a 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine with 270 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. The CX-9 includes an Aisin-supplied 6-speed Sport AT or automatic transmission with manual-mode as standard equipment. The option AWD system monitors wheel slippage, steering angle and torque. Upon first interior and exterior glance I could have easily mistaken my mid-level Touring trim ($31,305) for the grander option due to the standard two-toned and heated leather seating and dual stainless-steel exhaust tips. A well-spent $2,255 went toward two packages to elevate my ride: a Moonroof & Bose Audio with SIRIUS Package and the Touring Power Liftgate Package. This includes a new 4.3-inch full-color LCD display screen (that also serves as a backup camera), a remote power liftgate and a lovely moonroof.

Improvements for the 2010 model are mainly aesthetic in order to elevate this crossover model. Changes include a redesigned front grille, larger side mirrors, leather seating and a new 4.3-inch audio and backup LCD display.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The two-toned leather extends throughout the interior to door panels, swaddling all passengers in a refinement perk usually rolled out for bigger brands and pocketbooks. For a large crossover, the CX-9 sure offers a secure and snug fit for the driver. There is a remote open-and-close rear liftgate with a one-touch closure button embedded in the door. The steering wheel audio controls were uncommonly stiff. Although the second row is set on a rail system and can be pushed forward, the third row is cramped and bets for kids; getting in-and-out can take some effort here.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Mazda CX-9 has received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highest possible ratings or five stars in frontal and side impact crashes Both the FWD and AWD versions of the CX-9 received four-star rollover resistance ratings. The vehicle has a way with safety words and makes a fine point about how the build itself – from the floor and roof pillars made of high-tensile steel to the laser welding in high-stress areas – effectively absorbs collision energy. The following safety features are standard on the CX-9: Advanced Airbag System; Anti-Lock Brakes with EBD; Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control; Roll Stability Control; LATCH; Blind Spot Monitoring System (Grand Touring only); Keyless Remote; and Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Cost Issues: The CX-9 is offered in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The base Sport price is 28,805 and a fully-loaded Grand Touring can reach $34,215. Considering the upscale interior, this makes the CX-9 and excellent deal for a large-size crossover vehicle.

Activity & Performance Ability: The CX-9 is one of the better V6’s behind my big crossover belt. The engine was incredibly zippy and silent with definitive acceleration. I found the steering both controlled and encouraging. Automatic transmission shifts intuitively. The turning radius had me jockeying for awkward parking spaces I usually refuse with such a big-boned CUV. Despite the size, I found nothing heavy about this ride. Never did I get the sense of tugging or tilting a lot of steel baggage – even during speedy highway lane passing and quick back road cornering. If you’re going to stick with the 17-to-18-mpg mind frame, this is the vehicle to do it in. And choose the AWD option, as there is only a 1-mpg savings without.

The Green Concern: The CX-9 gets typical V6 fuel results at 16-city/22-highway driving for FWD. There is a 1-mpg loss when equipped with AWD.

The two-toned leather interior and responsive V6 engine in the Mazda CX-9 delivers a sense of caravanning around in a more refined large crossover, but without the large price. Truthfully, I really haven’t met a Mazda I didn’t like because the carmaker always delivers excellent value and performance.

©2010 Katrina Ramser