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 dwo2000 on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliability. Comfort. Family friendly."
Cons: "Big vehicle so gas mileage not great. Duh."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Ultra reliable.Only had one major issues which was rear wheel bearings (rare problem) replaced under warranty at 50000 miles. Other than that, just tires and oil changes. Check brakes every year and still they are OK. Incredible. Drives great."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By hummer on Friday, March 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Oh where to start...... I love/hate this vehicle. It looks good, drives good and is very comfortable to sit in. The ride is a bit clunky and I'm very disappointed in the gas milage. No where near what I expected. I don't drive crazy nor do I haul heavy loads yet I get only about 12 miles to the gallon. Please keep this in mind when considering the Mazda cx9"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By SkipperJohn on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, versatility, comfortable seating"
Cons: "Quirky radio/climate controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased new in early 2012, we were drawn to the Mazda CX-9 by the roomy, comfortable interior with high quality materials and a 3rd row seat in a fairly compact package. Ease of opening and folding the 3rd row seat sold the wife on this car. She loves it. So do I. With 22000 miles, the CX-9 has had only two unscheduled visits to the dealer. 1. A power steering belt broke; and 2. I had to cut the seat belt in the right rear to extract my child who had been squirming around and got himself inextricably entwined in the seat belt which cinched up around him and could not be unfastened. Mazda was good enough to cover that repair even though I didn't expect them to. A bit disappointed with 16-17 MPG city and 22 hwy. but with adequate acceleration. Had hoped for 3-4 MPG more each. Braking very good with 80% pads left after 22,000 miles. Brakes squeak occasionally when cold but there is a kit Mazda installs to eliminate this. Excellent driving position and comfort on long hauls. No fatigue after a 3 1/2 hour drive and that's exceptional for me with my bad back. Love the Blind Spot Monitoring system. Works great. The gauges are a bit dated looking and are either too bright or too dim at night with limited adjustability. A very slight turn of the dimmer knob either direction maxes it out either way. The rear view camera provides a somewhat distorted view to the rear. Daylight glare on the screen washes out that view. Handling is exceptional for an SUV of this size. But ride can be a bit bouncy on certain surfaces with the 20" wheels on the Grand Touring. And the OEM Bridgestone tires became rather noisy with a loud humm after 20,000 miles. The radio/climate controls beep every time you make a selection. Wish I knew how to turn that off. It's a bit annoying. And the radio/climate display read out at the top center of the dash is not prominent enough. I prefer a clearer, larger display. Also, the keyless ignition on the 2012 model is a bit quirky. The keyless fob allows you to turn the "dummy" ignition switch on the steering column, as opposed to a "push start-push off" button. None of that is that big of a deal to us however. Overall, we're very happy, and glad we bought the 2012 model. We DO NOT LIKE the 2013-2014 exterior redesign."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Lovemycx9 on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, feel safe, love the sleek style"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I drive a lot of miles and really enjoy the luxury and comfort and handling of the CX-9. It has all the features I want in a sleek and sexy style. Handles well and I feel safe in this vehicle. Our daughter is learning to drive in this SUV and I feel comfortable knowing it has great safety features."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By drumdude on Saturday, January 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cargo room, relative comfort, reliability"
Cons: "Forward angled steering/dash, bulky/cheap feel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Bought this '11 GT FWD new coming out of an '08 Pathfinder... wanted something more car like in drivability, but still needed lots of cargo room. Almost didn't buy due to FWD torque steer and driver position/steering/dash reach. Mostly the reasons I'll likely be trading this tomorrow on a VW AWD Touareg. The Mazda is nice, it is very reliable, and drives pretty well, but does feel big, cause it is! It has a HUGE amount of cargo space, which I needed more than now at purchase time. Maybe I should have gotten the AWD, but wanted better gas mileage which is pretty lame as it is (17.5 avg). I hate the FWD torque steer. Almost dangerous in 'need to get out of the way' situations. It just spins the front tires. Worse for me (at 5'8") is the angle of the steering wheel (also too small IMO) and dash (all forward leaning) and the subsequent far reach for all. A '9/3' hand position on the wheel is almost impossible when pedal distance is correct. Nav screen not readable in sunlight due to this ridiculous angle as well. (Nav is also not very intuitive to use). Other gripes is lack of lit up controls like windows (besides drivers), locks, mirrors, etc, which I didn't catch til first night drive after purchase-have to open the dang door to see the lock/unlock button! ... cost cutting, but lame. Stereo is way boomy and too much low/low mids, not natural. Truck feels thin and cheap to me. Having said that, I got a great deal on it when buying, and it wasn't that expensive to begin with. So, you get what you pay for. Bluetooth does work well, and voice recognition is decent. As stated, it's a very nice truck/car, probably better suited to bigger folks with long arms! The above mentioned are deal breakers for me though, so after lots of research, going back to German solidness/engineering (had a few Beemers and Audis). More expensive, but again, you get what you pay for."
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By skingfool on Thursday, January 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "all around fun car yet great for the family"
Cons: "window and lock controls hard to reach"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is the first new car I have ever purchased. When comparing to the domestic counterparts, this car was a steal. Very functional, decent mileage, great for my large family, and fun to drive."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful