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2011 Mazda CX-9 Review and Road Test By Larry Nutson

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2011 Mazda CX-9

2011 Mazda CX-9 Review - Sophisticated, Elegant and Versatile

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Late last summer I spent some time with the 2010 version of Mazda’s CX-9 and it was good to recently get behind the wheel of the 2011 model. I’m attracted by the overall design philosophy of Mazda and the CX-9 does a nice job of standing-out-from-the-crowd in the 7-passenger crossover SUV arena.

Mazda offers two crossover SUV models for people and cargo hauling. The 5-passenger CX-7 is well suited for singles, young couples, small families or empty-nester active-lifestyle couples…and there are more and more of these folks every day. 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 comes equipped with a long list of standard luxury features and equipment at an MSRP of $34,535 and had a few options including Power Lift Gate, Navigation System, Power Moonroof and Bose Audio which brought the total to $39,800 with the delivery fee.

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CX-9 prices start at $29,135 for the Sport model with front wheel drive. The Touring is priced at $31,055 and the Grand Touring at $33,145. For all-wheel-drive versions the added cost is $1390. All models include air conditioning, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry, trip computer, cruise control, six air bags, Bluetooth® phone capability and a choice of black or beige interior hues.

The CX-9 Sport is equipped with 18-inch aluminum wheels and tires, halogen headlamps, Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability and cloth upholstery. Power front seat adjusters are optional. The Touring model adds leather seat trim and power front-seat adjusters. The Grand Touring adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, bright exterior door handles, rain-sensing wipers, an anti-theft alarm system, exterior mirrors with turn indicators, a three-position memory driver’s seat, Blind Spot Monitoring system, Homelink auto-dimming rearview mirror, the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System, wood-like instrument panel trim, wood-like door trim, indirect blue interior lighting and a silver finish for the side surfaces of the rear console.

One of the improvements for 2011 on the CX-9 is in the area of fuels economy. The EPA Fuel Economy Estimates are 16 City and 22 Highway when AWD equipped. The FWD variant is 17 City MPG and 24 Highway 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. The CX-9 uses 87 octane regular unleaded…many vehicles today recommend or require premium…and the 20.1 gallon fuel tank is large enough to cover a nearly 500 mile road trip without refueling.

Also new for 2011 are redesigned 18 inch and 20 inch wheels and a Speed Sensing Auto Door Lock system. Three features that I continue to like are the blind-spot indicators in the outside rear view mirrors, the back-up camera with the rear view displayed in the navigation system screen when in R-reverse and the power rear hatch. I’m becoming convinced that back-up cameras should be standard on all SUVs and CUVs and optional on larger sedan type cars.

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Navigation is available as a stand-alone option on Grand Touring models and includes a DVD navigation system, and back-up monitor, which is 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.

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With the third row occupied, the CX-9 provides 17.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which is a fair amount of space. 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. Also, the CX-9 can tow up to a 3500 lb. trailer when equipped with the Towing Prep Package.

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The CX-9 does a nice job with noise isolation and overall is very quiet. An excellent job is done at managing wind noise at highway speed with very little wind noise from the outside rear view mirrors and also near my ear close to the door opening. Tire noise was very minimal, which varies a lot depending on the pavement surface itself. Handling is very crisp with a nice feel to the steering and overall a fun vehicle to drive.

All 2011 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.

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In addition, a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, all 2011 models receive a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.

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

© Larry Nutson