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For 2013, the CX-9 receives a freshened exterior with a new design front and rear. Inside, a 5.8-inch color touchscreen is standard, as is a new infotainment system with HD Radio, Pandora Internet radio connectivity, text-to-speech capability, and a new microphone for better speech recognition. Blind-spot monitoring and a rear-view camera now come to the mid-level Touring models.
The 2014 CX-9 is Mazda's largest model, a 3-row, 7-passenger sport-utility vehicle. Despite its SUV status, it remains a Mazda, meaning it's actually fun to drive. Thanks to a powerful V6 engine and dynamic handling, the Mazda CX-9 stands out from competitors such as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder because it feels more like a nimble sports sedan than a pragmatic people-mover. Even the Mazda's swoopy styling conveys motion and stands in contrast to blockier or bloated designs. That styling does sacrifice some interior room, however, and though Mazda's invigorating powertrain still holds its own, the fresher setups in some of the CX-9's rivals are more fuel efficient.