The Mazda CX-9 comes with a very robust engine--a Ford-supplied 3.7-liter V6, making 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The engine has plenty of torque to bring spirited acceleration, even with a full load, and it runs on regular fuel without power loss. Fuel economy ratings range up to 16 mpg city, 22 highway according to the EPA.
The engine is mated to a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission that includes a manual mode, and the Mazda CX-9 is offered with either standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. The so-called Active Torque Split all-wheel drive system monitors a range of variables including steering angle and lateral acceleration to supply the best division of torque between the front and rear wheels; under ordinary driving conditions it sends 100 percent of torque to the front wheels but can send up to 50 percent to the back. The system is primarily designed for good performance and traction on-road, rather than off-road.
Handling is one of the distinguishing factors that Mazda emphasizes, compared to other crossover SUVs, and there's plenty of attention to suspension tuning in the Mazda CX-9. The 4-wheel independent setup uses low-friction struts in front and a multi-link rear configuration. Anti-roll bars are used front and rear to help minimize lean and engine-speed-sensitive power steering gives more feedback than is customary for vehicles of its type.
Even though performance is a priority, the Mazda CX-9 is a large vehicle with three rows of seating and a very well designed interior. Full-size adults will fit comfortably in the first two rows of seating, and the split-folding second row slides fore and aft about five inches. The 50/50-split third row folds flat to maximize cargo space at the back, and the second row folds easily to gain access. Even when the third row is up, Mazda says that there are 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
All the expected safety features are included on the Mazda CX-9 as well. They include electronic stability control with Roll Stability Control and anti-lock brakes with big vented discs all around, plus front side airbags, and side-curtain bags that cover all three rows.
Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims are offered for the Mazda CX-9. Even the base Sport comes with air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, a trip computer and a Bluetooth hands-free interface. The Touring model brings leather upholstery and power front seats, as well as an optional power liftgate, backup monitor, and upgraded Bose audio system, while the Grand Touring brings many more features, including rain-sensing wipers, an alarm system, a memory driver's seat, and Blind Spot Monitoring. Grand Touring models also get dressed up a bit more with bright door handles, wood instrument panel trim, and blue interior lighting, plus bright-finish 20-inch alloy wheels.
A towing package is optional on the front-wheel drive Grand Touring model and standard on the all-wheel drive version, featuring a heavy-duty transmission cooler and a revised engine control module, which allows the Mazda CX-9 to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Other options include SIRIUS satellite radio, a dockable rear seat entertainment system with Game Boy Advance, and remote engine start.
Sportier Driving Feel Than Other Vehicles Its Size
Emphasis On On-road Performance
Very Roomy Interior
The Mazda CX-9 carries into 2010 with only a few feature changes, the most notable of which being Mazda's new trademark five-point grille and new more boldly designed fog lamp housings. Out back, the taillights have been slightly changed, and new wheels have been added. Inside features a new steering wheel, and the speedometer and tachometer receive new blue halo outlines while the dash has been given additional chrome accents. Dolphin Grey joins the list of exterior colors, and Real Time Traffic (RTT) is now available.
Mazda's CX-9 is a full size larger than Mazda's performance utility vehicle, the Mazda CX-7, and closely related to the Ford Edge; but compared to the Edge and most other crossover SUVs, it has a sportier character, and some might find the Mazda CX-9's overall package a bit more attractive. Even though the Mazda CX-9 is among the sleekest, more aggressively styled SUVs its size, it's also very roomy inside, with three real rows of seating and cargo space behind that.
Towing prep pkg -inc: 3500# towing capacity, reprogrammed ECU, heavy duty transmission cooler & radiator fan *Requires TTH Towing Receiver Hitch to complete towing pkg*
3.7L DOHC 24-valve V6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission w/OD & sport shift
Active torque split all-wheel drive
Independent front MacPherson strut suspension
Independent rear multi-link suspension
Front/rear stabilizer bars
Engine speed sensing pwr rack & pinion steering
Pwr ventilated front/rear disc brakes w/twin piston front calipers
Dual bright finish exhaust tips
18" x 7.5" aluminum wheels
P245/60R18 all-season tires
T155/90R18 temporary spare
Body-color roof spoiler
Body-color front bumper
Body-color pwr mirrors
Rear privacy glass
Variable intermittent windshield wipers
Variable intermittent rear wiper w/washer
Body-color door handles
AM/FM audio system w/CD/MP3 player, (6) speakers, aux input jack
Element type rear window antenna
Cloth seat trim
Front reclining bucket seats w/6-way manually adjustable driver seat