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Mazda CX-9 – Flagship from Hiroshima

Mazda CX-9 2007 F34.jpg

VehicleVoice staffers had been looking forward to the Mazda CX-9 to see how the new Mazda flagship stacks up against competition. One of a plethora of new Crossover SUVs, Mazda is venturing into uncharted, for them, territory.
Mid-Size or Large Crossover SUV… a Tweener?
The CX-9 is a “large” Crossover SUV – not the size of the Tahoe-sized GM Lambda Crossover SUVs like the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave, but still big enough to have a relatively comfortable 3rd row seat. AutoPacific carries CX-9 in our Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment (what a mouthful). It may actually deserve to be categorized in the Large Crossover Segment. We’re taking a look at it.
Styling is Modern, but Blends in With Other Contemporary Crossover SUVs
The styling of the CX-9 is modern without being overdone like its lower priced stablemate the CX-7. There are no wheel arch accents over the front wheel like the CX-7, RX-8 and Miata, but I don’t know if this is good. I was kinda getting into the more blatant Mazda front end look. The CX-9 doesn’t offend, it just blends. So from an overall styling standpoint, it seems to “blend” rather than turn heads. Some folks wondered if it was a new Lexus RX, so I guess being mistaken for an RX (like the Hyundai Veracruz is) ain’t too bad.

Same Old Bugaboo – Stylists Given Too Much Rein Damage Function
We found the CX-9 to be easy to live with once you got into the vehicle. Another victim of stylists’ tendency to slope the windshield too much, the CX-9 is a much of a challenge to get into as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is an exercise of ducking your head while lifting your feet to slither through the door opening… and I’m not tall.

Mazda CX-9 2007 Doors Open.jpg

The rear doors are large leading to a commodious rear seat and giving pretty fair access to the 3rd row. Cargo area behind the 3rd row is pretty good for a 7-pass Crossover SUV, but I’d always be driving it with the seats stowed. Anyone for a 5-passenger version with even more 2nd row seat room?
Exiting the vehicle is a snap. Not too high off the ground, the step-in and step-out height are almost perfect.
Very Straightforward Interior Theme – Almost Audi-esque in its Simplicity
A few staffers felt the $39,000 and change CX-9 skimped on interior finery like wood accented steering wheel and more “interest” around the center stack features. Others thought the Audi-like theme was very appropriate. The CX-9 is very easy to use with good ergonomics and easy to read gauges and easy to reach switches.
Mazda CX-9 2007 Cockpit.jpg

Mazda CX-9 2007 Drivers Seat.jpg

Ah, You Ask, How is the CX-9 to Drive?
The CX-9 has a 3.5L V6 engine – same as in the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX – with a little over 260HP. It has a smooth shifting 6-speed transmission with a tiptronic feature in the console – no paddle shifters here. The 3.5L gives adequate power, but it is not earth shattering by any means. We got out of the CX-9 and into a Lincoln MKX with the same engine and the Mazda setup seemed to be quieter and smoother. A larger 3.7L V6 is expected soon that will punch up the horsepower more and move the CX-9 away from the Edge/MKX.
The ride and handling of the CX-9 is appropriate for a Crossover SUV driven by Mom to soccer practice or to take the tots to school, but it doesn’t have the Zoom Zoom feeling that you get driving the CX-7. It feels heavy and very deliberate. I guess this is Zoom Zoom for the mature set.

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