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2010 Mazda CX-9 Review

2010 Mazda CX-9 (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Mazda CX-9

SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyers Guide

2010 Mazda CX-9. Room enough for the kids and their friends.

Review by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I had been interested to get behind the wheel of Mazda’s crossover SUVs, the 5-passenger CX-7 and the 7–passenger CX-9, for some time and the opportunity to drive a 2010 CX-9 came at the perfect time. I was about to embark on a day trip of about 330 miles from Chicago to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and back that would provide a good amount of seat time.

Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach, Mazda offers two crossover SUV models for people and cargo hauling. The CX-7 fits well for singles, young couples, small families or an empty-nester couple. The CX-9 steps up if you are in the car-pool mode or need more cargo space. My CX-9 for a week was a Grand Touring All Wheel Drive model that is equipped with a long list of standard luxury features and equipment at an MSRP of $34,215 and had a few options including Power Rear Hatch, Navigation System, Power Moonroof and Bose Audio which brought the total to $39,435. CX-9 prices start at $28,805 for the Sport model with front wheel drive.

I drove a Ford Edge for 2 years and previously a number of Explorers, one Chevy Blazer and a Ford Expedition, so I was looking forward to the comparison with Mazda’s CX-9. My trip to Oshkosh is via Interstate with a brief 15 minute crosstown drive. I like to listen to the whole vehicle when I first start off and save the audio system for later. My immediate impression was how quiet the CX-9 is. An excellent job of managing wind noise at highway speed; very little wind noise from the outside rear view mirrors and near my ear close to the door opening. Tire noise was very minimal, which varies a lot depending on the pavement surface itself.

2010 Mazda CX-9 (select to view enlarged photo)

The CX-9 was virtually brand new with a little over 300 miles on the odometer so I didn’t have high expectations on fuel consumption. However, I was pleasantly surprised to achieve 23.8 mpg overall on my 330 mile day trip, which exceeded the 21 Highway MPG EPA Fuel Economy Estimate. The EPA City Fuel Economy Estimate is 15 mpg. The 273HP, 3.7Liter V6 and the 6-speed Sport Shift Automatic Transmission were matched well and gave the CX-9 excellent acceleration, sharp shifts and quiet operation at highway speeds.

This brand new CX-9 had plenty of “new-car smell” especially from the luxurious leather interior. The interior fit and finish is outstanding and I felt like I was driving a much higher priced vehicle. Three features that I really liked where the blind-spot indicators in the outside rear view mirrors, the back-up camera which displayed the view in the navigation system screen behind the vehicle when in R-reverse and the power rear hatch.

The Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system supports the driver when changing lanes on roads and highways. At speeds of 20 mph or more, the system monitors areas on both sides of the vehicle to the rear. When a vehicle enters the detection area on either side, the BSM notifies the driver by illuminating a warning light located in the door mirror in the same side. I liked the “confirmation” this system gave that it is clear to change lanes, especially while driving defensively.

2010 Mazda CX-9(select to view enlarged photo)

Navigation is available as a stand-alone option on Grand Touring models and includes a DVD navigation system, and back-up monitor. New for 2010, the back-up monitor system is equipped with a wide-angle camera, which improves the field of vision, allowing for a wider view of objects or people that may be behind the vehicle. Great for tight maneuvering and on-street parking in a crowded city.

The Power Open and Close Rear Hatch is a huge convenience especially with your arms loaded with groceries or a heavy carton. With only a push of the button in the key fob as you approach the vehicle the hatch opens eliminating that fumbling to put down whatever you are carrying to raise the hatch.

Extra thought is invested in small details, such as how the CX-9's seat releases are configured. For example, releasing the second row seat in order to enter the third row requires only one simple hand motion to unlatch the seat and move it forward. Likewise, a clever strap attached behind the third row seat's backrest serves as both a release for folding the seat and a means of pulling it back erect again.

2010 Mazda CX-9(select to view enlarged photo)

2010 Mazda CX-9 (select to view enlarged photo)

With the third row occupied, the CX-9 provides 17.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, eclipsing many large sedan trunks. Both second and third-row seats fold flat to provide 100.7 cubic feet of storage all the way up to the back of the front seats. In the 5-person mode with only the third row folded there is 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Versatility to meet everyone’s needs.

All 2010 Mazdas come with a roadside assistance program. With a call to a toll-free number, owners can access roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, all 2010 models receive a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.

With more than 700 Mazda dealers across the United States, a convenient ownership and service experience should be the norm with any Mazda vehicle.

Last thought: In 2008, the Mazda CX-9 was voted the North American Truck of the Year. Yes, more car-like crossovers have appeared on the market and the bar continues to be raised. But, the Mazda CX-9 is still among the best.

Larry Nutson