By KBB.com Editors
Car-based "crossover" utility vehicles (CUVs) try to marry the best attributes of passenger cars and SUVs, and these days they are leaving the woods and mountains behind. The goal is to offer a sporty, urban vibe, and none pulls this off better than the twin CUVs from Mazda, the CX-7 and CX-9. They offer the tough-to-achieve blend of a sport sedan and an SUV that can corner and carry equally well. Both are vehicles that are genuinely fun to drive yet still useful on a shopping trip or a family vacation. Of the two, the CX-7 may be a tad sportier, but its larger three-row, seven-passenger CX-9 stablemate, which shares its engine and much of its architecture with Ford's Edge and Lincoln MKX, delivers a similar feel while upping the utility quotient considerably.
If large three-row CUV practicality with a fair measure of Mazda "Zoom-Zoom" character might be your cup of tea, take a look at this new CX-9. Its combination of sporty looks, eager performance and people and cargo capacity should impress you.
If your needs include a greater level of off-road prowess or heavier cargo and towing capability, one of many less sporty but more powerful and capable SUVs on the market would be a better choice.
We were skeptical when Mazda claimed sportiness as a key attribute of its new crossover utilities, but they have surprised us by delivering on that promise. The CX-9, created specifically for North America, is the largest vehicle Mazda has ever brought to this market.
Driving Impressions A lightly-loaded CX-9 does a creditable job of living up to Mazda's "Zoom-Zoom" marketing promise with its rigid unibody chassis, low-friction MacPherson strut front and independent multi-link rear suspension, precise...engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering and stabilizer bars at both ends. Despite its substantial size and weight, it acquits itself surprisingly well on curvy country roads and rides smoothly and quietly at freeway speeds. With more people and cargo aboard, it is understandably less athletic and loses some performance, but it remains a satisfying ride. Unlike many three-row CUVs, there is ample adult-size room in all seating positions and 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row.
60/40-split, sliding, reclining second-row seat
This versatile center-row seat slides five inches to accommodate long-legged folks either on or behind it. The seat also has reclining backrests, offers easy access to the third row with a one-handed release and folds flat into the floor to optimize cargo room.
Active Torque-Split All-Wheel Drive
On available all-wheel-drive models, sensors signal control modules to send more torque to the axle with the best traction automatically. Up to half the engine's torque can be sent to the rear through a computer-controlled coupling connected to the rear differential.
The CX-9's interior upholds the exterior's sporting character but with more luxury touches than the less expensive CX-7. Its instrument panel has quad chrome-ringed gauges under a prominent hood and a logically laid-out audio and climate control area bounded by rich wood spears plunging from dash-top to floor and mirroring similar pieces in the door panels. The three-spoke steering wheel, contoured front bucket seats and two-tone trim say "sports car" more than "SUV," while blue indirect lighting adds an upscale glow at night. The 60/40 second-row seat reclines and slides forward to enhance third-row access, and both it and the 50/50 third seat fold flat into the floor.Exterior
The CX-9 is well dressed for its role as the bigger brother of Mazda's CX-7 sport CUV. Its look is Mazda sporty, with a signature five-point grille over a wide, aggressive bumper, wrap-around headlights and a broad-shouldered tail with curving tail lights and twin trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips. One nice touch is a full-width chrome strip across the top of the black-out grille opening, which flows across the top of the large, centered Mazda logo.
The CX-9 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The base Sport comes with three-row, seven-passenger seating, front and rear air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, tilt wheel, cruise control, AM/FM/CD audio and six sets of air bags (front, side and full-length side curtain). Additional safety features include four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS, Traction Control System (TCS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The mid-range Touring and top-line Grand Touring add leather trim, power front seats and more.
The Mazda CX-9 has an options list that mimics a premium-level sedan. Major options available on the CX-9 include SIRIUS(tm) satellite radio, DVD-based touch-screen navigation, Surround-Sound Bose(r) premium audio with a six-CD changer, rear DVD entertainment system and a power rear liftgate. All-wheel drive is an important functional option.
The CX-9's dual-overhead-cam, 24-valve, variable-valve-timing 3.5-liter V6 is essentially the same excellent new engine that powers its American cousins, the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX and other upper-level Ford products, but it is assembled, tuned and calibrated by Mazda. It powers the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission or all four with Mazda's available Active Torque-Split all-wheel drive.
263 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
249 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (front-wheel drive), 16/22 (all-wheel drive)
By Stanley on Saturday, September 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good driver for a big car"
Cons: "Getting in and out on all four seat not good"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I have two negative issues 1. The drivers seat goes back to fully recline each time you unlock the car. 2. The passenger seat is too high and the angle of the windshield is too short. A lot of power, pretty good mileage on the highway! Sound system great , good lines Blind side is a great feature"
10 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Mel on Thursday, September 04, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Constant Repairs
Pros: "Great Style and Interior"
Cons: "Mechanically not sound!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"So I owned the 2007 Mazda CX-9 I loved my car but it kept going into the shop. Once this vehicle hit's 100k you will begin having massive issues! In a 9 month spread we dumped $7,180.00 dollars into repairs. Finally had enough at what point does repairing not make since? This vehicle has a very stylish body and apart from changing the front Grill and headlight's Mazda has not changed the overall appearance. So it still looks like a new car 7 years latter. The fit and finish on the interior is done very well! The seating lay out easily fits not just little kids but full sized adults in every seat nicely. The cargo space with the third row up is ample enough for Football Moms. Put the third row down and you can start putting bikes in for the kids! The third row down cargo is the best design in it's class, throw a blow up bed in there and you can easily camp in your car! (we did that) Be careful buying one of these if it has 100k miles plus though because buyer be ware! We traded to a new Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD this vehicle is great. The CX-9 beats it in the back row but that's about it. Best luck on your buying decision and I hope this was helpful. Overall I loved my CX-9 but was heart broken when it became a money pit."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Kim on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sized car - tons of room."
Cons: "Wish it got better gas milage. Tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"A Mommy Car with attitude. Drives nice, lots of room for friends or stuff. I even carried a full size washer in the box, in the back of the car. Only complaint was had to put tires and brakes on the car at 25K. Seemed early to me to spend this kind of money. I would recommend this car."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By mixie on Thursday, July 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"never heard of the CX 9 before I got it . Went down to the dealership because of a flyer that came to the house . So far it has met and exceeded my expectations"
12 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By hydrin on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, fast,comfortable"
Cons: "gas mileage, console too large, no auto door locks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car as pre owned after losing my toyota camry in a flood. I wanted something large and reliable. I never even thought of buying a Mazda but the used car inventory was very limited in my area at the time because of the flood. I was fortunate to find this car which was just turned in from a lease and fell in love with it. I drove it and could not believe how fast and how easy it was to handle, very comfortable even on long trips . I get many compliments on the car. It looks just as good as the more expensive SUV's around. My only complaints are that it is not as roomy inside as I had hoped because of the very large center console in the front and the doors do not automatically lock ,you have to remember to lock the doors when you get in the car . I would buy one again."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By The Pief on Sunday, July 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 94,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fair price, drives/rides like a car. Trouble-free."
Cons: "no programmable garage door opener."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This auto has never been to any shop for any repairs...I should probably keep it until it dies. Excellent appearance that still draws favorable comments. Outstanding for golf trips...holds our luggage, clubs and plug-in cooler with ease. Ride is exceptional...exactly like a car. Lack of programmable remote garage opener is a negative....using a garage door opener is so 1970's."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful