Mazda does a great job of making a vehicle as big as the CX-9 feel smaller and more maneuverable. Some other automakers build SUVs and crossover that seem more cumbersome going down the road despite having a smaller footprint. Despite feeling nimble behind the wheel, the CX-9 offers pretty impressive cargo and passenger room inside. I put my Rottweiler in the cargo area with the third row of seats folded and he had plenty of room to move around. He wouldn’t have fit with the third row of seating upright, though.
Like Joe DeMatio, I was impressed by the power and refinement of the 3.7-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission. There’s strong enough acceleration at normal speeds, and typical of Mazda products, the engine is in its powerband at highway cruising speeds, so you don’t need a 6th-to-4th downshift to be able to pass slower traffic on the expressway. That gearing hurts the fuel economy a bit, as the 16/22 mpg ratings aren’t terribly impressive to me.
Inside the CX-9, the area surrounding the front seats is well organized and I easily found enough room to store my garage door opener, parking garage pass, checkbook, cell phone, and a coffee. The rectangular opening below the HVAC controls is particularly useful since it doesn’t extend too deep into the dashboard. Some cars have well-placed storage areas that are actually too big if you need to quickly grab something inside them without taking your eyes off the road.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor