By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
When Mazda created the seven-passenger CX-9, it sought to build a family-friendly wagon that could also radiate the sporty, urban vibe created by its CX-7 crossover utility vehicle (CUV). Three years and a boatload of awards later, the 2011 CX-9 has successful accomplished Mazda's master plan, offering everything a growing family needs in a car and still looking cool while doing it. Sharing much of its architecture and drivetrain with the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKT (a product of the now defunct Ford/Mazda partnership), the CX-9 might be considered a bit of a world car, but regardless of its pedigree, its attitude is all Mazda. From its sleek good looks to its capable handling, stunning interior and standard safety features, the 2011 Mazda CX-9 truly is the coolest way for seven people to get around.
If you're youthful side craves the "Zoom-Zoom" attitude of a MAZDA3, but the responsible adult in you recognizes the needs of your growing family, the CX-9 may very well satisfy both.
Although the CX-9 is great for hauling kids and cargo, if you need to pull something heavier than 3,500 pounds, there is no substitute for a full-size, V8-powered SUV.
Other then improved fuel economy and some new wheels, there are no major changes for the 2011 Mazda CX-9.
Driving Impressions When not burden by too many passengers or toys, the CX-9 does a credible job fulfilling the marketing department's promise of a "Zoom-Zoom" driving experience. Despite its substantial size and...weight, the CX-9 acquits itself surprisingly well on curvy country roads and rides smoothly and quietly at freeway speeds. This combination of smooth ride and agile handling results from the CX-9's rigid unit-body 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. Add people and cargo to the mix, and the CX-9 becomes understandably less athletic.
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 is practically luxury car plush. From the driver's seat the first feature that comes into view is a quad chrome-ringed gauge cluster brilliantly illuminated by blue and red lighting. Controls for ventilation and the audio system are logically laid out, flanked by rich wood spears running from dash to floor mirroring similar pieces on the door panels. The well-contoured bucket seats and two-tone trim bespeak luxury trappings, but the thick-grip three-spoke steering wheel and six-speed automatic with manual shift gate scream performance machine. 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. Like many three-row crossovers, however, the CX-9's third row seat is best suited for children or diminutive adults. However, unlike many three-row CUVs, there is an ample 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row.Exterior
As the big brother to the Mazda CX-7, the CX-9 is well suited to its more mature role. Though longer and heavier than the CX-7, the CX-9 retains Mazda's sports-car inspired styling, touting the company's signature five-point grille stretched over a wide, aggressive bumper. The styling theme is completed by a set of wrap-around headlights and a broad-shouldered tail with curving tail lights and twin trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips. Although gaining access to the third-row seat is still a bit of squeeze if you're an adult, the CX-9's long rear doors allow the best possible access and are particularly helpful when it comes time to install a childe safety seat. The tall roof can be easily accessed by standing on the bottom of the door opening, another helpful feature for those not blessed with overwhelming height.
The 2011 Mazda CX-9 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The base Sport comes with three-row, seven-passenger seating, power windows, locks and mirrors, tilt wheel, cruise control, AM/FM/CD audio, front and rear air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and six sets of airbags (front, side and full-length side curtain). Additional safety features include four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes (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.
Major options available on the CX-9 include SIRIUS Satellite Radio, DVD-based touch-screen navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring System, Surround Sound Bose premium audio with a six-CD changer (single disc when combined with navigation), rear DVD entertainment system, keyless entry and start, 4.3-inch view screen with rear backup camera and a power rear liftgate. All-wheel drive is an important functional option.
The 2011 Mazda CX-9's 3.7-liter V6 is a variation of the 3.5-liter engine that powers its American cousins, the Ford Edge, however, the 3.7-liter version is specific to Mazda and Lincoln. It powers the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, or all four wheels with Mazda's available Active Torque-Split all-wheel-drive.
273 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
270 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 16/22 (AWD)
By SteveiB (CT) on Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfort, style, leather interior, quiet, fun"
Cons: "Can't find any."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought new in 2008 after my 2004 6 sport(still own it) was paid off. LOVE this SUV. Normal maintenance and oil changes done. Never broken down, never left on the side of the road. Rear shock just failed today. After the repair I still smiled when I got back in and drove home. Normal repair and on other cars I have had that happen at 50,000 miles. This car rides like a sports sedan. My neighbor with his Explorer can't believe this is 6 years old. Thinking of trading and then keep saying WHY? Those that complain about mileage just realize it's an SUV (AWD) even though it feels like a smaller car. I press the peddle (big one on the right) and know I can beat most anything out there. Can Ford, GM or Chrysler say NO RECALLS. Between my 2004 and 2008 never a recall! Mazda, I will be back but it might be a while!"
By joeflausa (FL) on Monday, November 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price was good enough for me to buy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"All (almost) is great, but a few things I would change. Not enough compartments within arms reach of the driver. The steering wheel is a little small for me. And the last thing some of the dash light (mpg, miles left to go, etc. Just a little to small. But I'm thinking I'll get used to it. But now I'll give it very high 9 over 10."
By Bort (CA) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "drv. dynamics, qualily interior, spacious, stylish"
Cons: "gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After testing most 2013 SUV in this class, my finalists where the CX-9 and the Highlander. Hands down Mazda's interior quality and design beats anything else in its class that I have test driven (Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Ford, Chevy, etc.). The seats are race comfortable with good seat pan tilt and height adjustment. The telescopic steering wheel adjustment gave the most latitude out of all others. The driving dynamics on the CX-9 is above the rest. The car grips like glue on the road on long fast turns and maintains its stiff race like suspension where all others would compress and lurch out of line. I recommend the 20" wheels that come with the grand touring if you like a stiffer handling as I do. The car has plenty of pep. The style and drivability somewhat reminds me of the Audi. My wife likes the blind spot warning radar which few others have. Cargo space seems more spacious than competitors because of its wide gate that doesn't narrow towards the back like others. Both first and second row seating have generous space while the third row, like all others, is cramped and should be used by small children or in small doses. I don't recommend the AWD however. There is a history of transfer case overheating and failure problems on older models with AWD if the tires are not evenly worn. So all four tires must be replaced together on the AWD variant. This may have been fixed in newer models but AWD also lowers your 0 - 60 time and gives you less gas mileage on a car that already is poor in that department. Overall I am very happy with this car and enjoy driving it very much."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By tkalladan (GA) on Tuesday, October 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Strong SUV for good price."
Cons: "Gas mileage is less."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I looked in to most of the mid size SUV before I settle into buy Mazda CX-9, grand Turing with tech package. I paid $33000 to drive out including tax and all fees. I think I got good deal on price and bought one. Two month later I'm very happy about the driving and feel safe. Almost all the luxury SUV has similar futures and cost lot more money."
By Steve (WA) on Monday, September 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Safe Feel, Look, Functionality, Sexy"
Cons: "Gas Mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this vehicle in Jan of 2013. My initial impression was how substantual and crisp the drive and handling were. I feel like if I hit another car, I would be ok without a seatbelt and would quite frankly destroy the other car. I take it over to Eastern WA and over the mountain passes. It's the first vehicle that I feel entirely safe in... and can bully those 18 wheel semis on those hairpin turns!!! It's a bit thirsty around town, bummer to see 16 MPG. Highway is a true 23 MPG. Handling is crisp and nimble, ride is appointed, not stiff but you feel bumps at times. I have the Grand Touring. I love my Bose and the interior is super nice. It's the most comfortable vehicle I've ever owned. It is my favorite vehicle ever! I would test drive one asap if you're in the market for SUV or CUV."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By bb_nj (NJ) on Friday, July 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good overall drive experience"
Cons: "Lousy customer service and Parts availablity."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought spanking new CX9 AWD and was super excited. The drive is nice though the voice interface can be improved. Alas this was short lived and not to mention super frustating. So much so that I have decided to let go of the vehicle at a lose. Why... because Mazda sold me a car for which they do not have spare parts. My car is in workshop for more than a month for simple parts like bumber and grill. They do not even have eta on the back orders. The Customer service is no help and would not even consider a loner car. I am spending from my pocket. Even after the car is fixed I have lost complete faith in the brand. Please do share as this might be the most important and missing information you could pass to your friends. Great car lousy service failed brand. Bottomline if you do not care about service or certain it will never require repair a good buy. Stay away..."
13 people out of 19 found this review helpful