Review: Mazda seems intent on covering the whole spectrum of
crossover vehicles. From the compact Mazda 3 5-door, it’s not called a
crossover, to the Mazda 5, it’s called a Multi-Activity Vehicle, to the
CX-7, and ending with the CX-9, the subject vehicle. Call them what you
will, wagons, vans, crossovers, the intent is the same, maximum interior
space in the minimal exterior space.
Mazda also is intent on
keeping the sportyness of its halo cars, like the RX-7, Miata and
MazdaSpeed, a part of its stable of family vehicles. There is no reason
you have to sacrifice the “zoom-zoom” part, just because the tykes are
strapped in the back seat, after all, they are strapped in.
There is a family
resemblance to every Mazda, although the Ford sourced Mazda Tribute and
Mazda B-Series trucks look more like distant cousins. This is good for
brand identification, especially in this “we are all one” world.
Personally I do not favor Mazda’s current styling but my opinion must be
in the minority as Mazda is doing okay, or at least no worse than many
others, in these dismal times.
The CX-7 (here we go
again with model designations that have no meaning to the average Joe or
me) is the largest offering from Mazda. It is just shy of 17 feet in
length, slightly over 6 feet in width, and a touch more than 5.5 feet in
height. In days gone by this would not have been considered big but
today it’s ……
Inside there is seating
for up to seven, and even with the second and third row of seats upright
there is 17.2 cubic feet of storage behind the third row. Fold the
third row and that increases to 48.4, and with both rows folded it ups
to an astonishing 100.7 cubic feet of storage.
To distance itself from
the dreaded mini-van, the CX-9 has four “normal” doors instead of the
sliding doors found on mini-vans. Both types have their pluses and
minuses; sliding doors are easier to use in tight quarters but they add
weight and complexity. Normally opening doors are much lighter but they
do restrict entry room if you park too close to something else.
There is only one
engine available in the CX-9, a 3.7-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, 273 hp V6.
The engine is lively but motivating 4,334 pounds (up to 4,550 if it is a
4WD) of weight takes its toll in both acceleration and fuel economy. I
do not put a stopwatch to any of the vehicles I drive, so it is all seat
of the pants observation. Thankfully the engine is not one of those full
of “sound and fury signifying nothing motors”, it may not be blindingly
fast but it never sounded strained while trying. Fuel economy is only
so-so at 16/22 for the front-wheel-drive and 15/21 with AWD.
The transmission is an
excellent 6-speed automatic with Sport Shift. It is strange to think
that not that many years ago a 4-speed automatic was out of the
ordinary. Now there are cars with 7 or 8 speeds, and a 6 speed seems
average. What is really amazing is how good, and how reliable these new
In keeping with Mazda’s
“zoom-zoom” heritage the three CX-9 trim levels are Sport, Touring, and
Grand Touring. It is strange to think that the bottom trim level is
Sport, which in days gone by would have been one of the top levels.
Regardless, all three are well appointed. I would probably opt for the
Sport with 2WD to shave weight. I am not one who thinks AWD is the end
all to be all. There are some of us who are still alive after have
driven in some of the most adverse weather conditions with nothing more
than snow tires (if we could afford them) and we did just fine, thank
you very much.
I was a little taken
aback by the CX-9’s heft while driving it. You cannot have all that
weight without it being noticed; there is something called inertia.
Inertia rears its ugly head when you accelerate, brake and turn corners,
which you do a lot in daily driving. Do not get me wrong, the CX-9 was
not unpleasant to drive; it is just that after driving a host of lighter
vehicles the weight is noticeable.
Okay, I have to admit
it, I do not have a family. I do not travel with a wife, two kids, a
dog, and all their stuff. So I do not need a big vehicle. I do
understand it though and if I did have a family, and we traveled, the
CX-9, at least in the Sport version, would be something I would
consider. I like vehicles that handle well, and the CX-9 is one that can
handle corners, emergency maneuvers or just hauling down the highway.
Hauling is something
that some families take into consideration when deciding what to
purchase. The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds, not astounding, but an
average ballpark weight of a good camping or utility trailer.
None of the trim levels
are bargain basement. I think that over the past decade or so we became
too used to $30,000 plus vehicles. We saw our houses skyrocket in value
so who cared? Now thirty grand makes many people stop and think. The
base CX-9 Sport is $29,820. All-Wheel-Drive adds $1,400. A CX-9 Grand
Touring with AWD is $35,205.
Don’t get me wrong,
these are well appointed vehicles and in a pre-recession world they were
priced to sell, but that was then, this is now. Only you can decide if
the price is right for your budget.
By Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San
Byline: Mazda Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Mazda Home Page
Column Name: The CX-9
is the largest offering from Mazda
Topic: The 2009 Mazda
Word Count: 1016
Photo Caption: The
2009 Mazda CX-9
Photo Credits: Mazda
CX-9 Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 26
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2009 Mazda CX-9
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2009 Mazda CX-9