Review: Mazda CX-9 - Seven-passenger snowmobile

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Feb. 11, 2011
Mazda CX-9 - Contributed Photo

This winter has been so all-encompassing in terms of its impact on our daily lives that it has taken center stage in a lot of discussions about the purchase of a new car. Not only are the usual criterion being considered (size, practicality, performance, economy, etc.), but now the question of how a potential new vehicle does in the snow and ice figures prominently in the mix. The great thing is, the number of vehicles available with all-wheel drive is quite high, and includes this week’s auto (which is already a great all-around Crossover Utility Vehicle).  The Mazda CX-9 is the largest of their family-haulers, and this comfortable vehicle boasts seating for up to seven occupants. It also has an excellent optional AWD system that got quite a workout during our week with the vehicle.
The CX-9 rolls on a long 113-inch wheelbase, and is available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. All feature the same powertrain: a 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 273 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed sport automatic transmission. This is an excellent fit for the CX-9, for it is smooth, refined and strong enough to take our AWD Grand Touring tester to 60 mph in 7.21 seconds.
In addition to the long wheelbase providing great interior room, it also aides handling by keeping the chassis stable. Steering is reasonably quick, and agility was surprisingly good for this type of vehicle. Mazda’s Active Torque All-Wheel Drive performed admirably in the snow and ice, and a generous amount of ground clearance helped us from getting stuck in the deep stuff. Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control and Roll Stability Control are standard across the board, and our Grand Touring model also had a sophisticated Blind Spot Warning System that comes in handy in heavy traffic.
Inside, three-row seating is standard in all CX-9 models, and the center row is a 60/40 split bench. Leather seating is standard on the Grand Touring, and the driver and front passenger get heated perches (which were used extensively). Instruments and controls are logically arrayed, but some of the warning lights (such as door ajar) were a bit small.
What isn’t small is interior room, for both the second and third rows can accommodate adults (although the third row would be tight for long trips). The third row is great for kids, though, and when it’s time to haul more cargo than people, the third row slides into the floor with the greatest of ease. Behind the third row, you have 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold that row, and it grows to 48.3, and with the second row folded as well, this swells to 100 cubic feet.
Room, great performance and the ability to deal with snow makes the CX-9 a solid contender in the family CUV category and a very smart choice in these parts. The 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD is EPA-rated 16 MPG city/22 highway and has a base price of $34,535. With options including a navigation system, our sticker came to $39,800.

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