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2009 Mazda CX-9 ReviewThe Good
The 2009 version of the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV features a winning combination of sporty styling, a roomy interior, a flexible cargo area, and numerous safety features, while the addition of standard Bluetooth for 2009 adds to the vehicle's overall functionality and value.
The CX-9's fuel economy remains a drawback for many drivers, while others would like to see better seat comfort and more interior storage spaces.
The CarGurus View
The 2009 CX-9 continues to demonstrate the fun and functionality of the crossover SUV, which has growing appeal to today's discerning consumers. Its lower center of gravity, when compared to a traditional SUV, helps ensure the safety of passengers, while the roomy interior makes it a viable family vehicle. However, the limited number of interior storage spaces and fuel economy ratings remain drawbacks for many owners, who otherwise see the CX-9 as a good value.
At a Glance
The Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV receives only minor updates for 2009. All '09 CX-9 trims, including the entry-level Sport, the midlevel Touring, and the top-of-the-line Grand Touring, now come equipped with a trip computer and Bluetooth phone compatibility as standard equipment. A Power Seat Package for the Sport trim now includes heated seats and heated outside mirrors, while the optional moonroof and Bose audio package comes with Sirius satellite radio for '09, as does the Rear Seat Entertainment System Package. Although the Touring trim remains unchanged for '09, the Grand Touring trim receives an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink.
Introduced in 2007 and now in its third year of production, the CX-9 crossover SUV features sport-oriented styling, with a smooth front end, an angled windshield, a tapered roofline, and chrome-accented sides that sweep back into a sleek tail. All trims seat seven passengers in three rows. The CX-9 rides on a car-based platform, making it the only SUV in its category to do so. The 2008 version of the CX-9, which carries over to 2009 largely unchanged, was voted the North American Truck of the Year by journalists and the Sport Utility of the Year by Motor Trend magazine, due in part to its attractive styling, capable handling, smooth ride, and roomy interior.
A 273-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine powers all CX-9 trims. Generating 270 lb-ft of torque, the V6 provides good acceleration and manages 16/22 city/highway mpg. The engine links to a six-speed Sport A/T automatic transmission, designed to provide optimal acceleration and passing performance as well as fuel efficiency. The V6 runs on regular fuel without power loss, according to Mazda.
As in previous years, all three CX-9 trims are available with either front-wheel drive or with Mazda's Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system. Under normal driving conditions, the system sends 100 percent of driving torque to the front wheels, but when sensors detect wheel slippage, the system rapidly makes adjustments, sending torque to the rear axle or to wheels with traction. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the CX-9 becomes slightly less fuel efficient, as mileage ratings dip to 15/21.
The CX-9 can tow up to 2,000 pounds in its base configuration. A towing package, which comes standard on AWD trims, increases towing capacity to 3,500 pounds. The towing package is available as an option on front-wheel-drive trims.
Ride & Handling
A CX-9's stiff unibody chassis with a low-friction strut-type suspension system ensures a smooth, solid ride, while engine-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering provides quick, sporty handling. The suspension also features anti-roll bars, which help keep occupants safe while improving control and agility. The Sport and Touring trims ride on 18-inch wheels, while the Grand Touring comes equipped with 20-inch wheels.
In corners, the CX-9 stays relatively straight up for an SUV, exhibiting minimal body lean. Some reviewers note the SUV can feel heavy at slower speeds. At highway speeds, however, the CX-9 cruises along smoothly and capably, thanks to its car-like platform.
The T-shaped instrument panel features easy-to-read gauges with metal trim, while entertainment and climate controls are clearly marked for easy operation.
The CX-9 provides plenty of legroom and headroom in the first two rows, and the seats are well-bolstered. Reclining second-row seats, designed for passenger comfort, come standard on all trims. However, some owners would like better seat comfort for long-distance traveling. Getting into and out of the rear seat can be tricky, due to a small opening between the rows, and third-row legroom can be tight for taller passengers.
Storage bins and cubbies include eight cupholders, four bottle holders, and storage pockets in all four doors, as well as bins in the center armrest. Some drivers and reviewers would like to see more interior storage spaces, especially for busy families. The CX-9 also has a storage area under the rear floor.
Cabin & Comfort
The CX-9 offers a well-organized and comfortable interior with high-quality materials, a sporty feel, and attention to detail throughout the cabin. Standard features for all three trims include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, anti-pinch power windows, three-zone air-conditioning, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for compatible cell phones. The midlevel Touring trim adds power-adjustable heated front seats, leather-trimmed seats in all rows, and a center armrest in the second row, as well as an optional power rear liftgate.
The high-end Grand Touring trim comes equipped with indirect blue lighting embedded in the ceiling and front and rear door trim, which provides a warm glow and an upscale atmosphere for occupants. Other standard features for the Grand Touring include silver-and-wood interior trim and a Smartcard advanced keyless entry system.
All trims come with a six-speaker AM/FM audio system with a connection for an MP3 player and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Drivers can add Sirius satellite radio as an option, or upgrade to a 10-speaker system with Bose speakers and a 6-CD changer or an 11-speaker system with a 9-inch DVD rear-seat entertainment system. Other options include a power sliding-glass moonroof, available on all three trims, and a DVD voice-activated navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen, available on the Touring and Grand Touring trims.
The CX-9 offers a respectable 17.9 cubic feet of storage space behind the third row of seats, which expands to 48.4 cubic feet with the third row folded down. That expands to a generous 100.7 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded down. The third-row seats have a 60/40 split to provide flexibility for carrying cargo.
The 2009 CX-9 received a five-star crash rating for front and side impacts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ensuring the safety of occupants. In addition, both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive trims receive four out of five stars for rollover protection.
All CX-9 trims come equipped with a wide range of safety features, including antilock brakes, traction control, and Dynamic Stability Control, which makes adjustments to engine power and brakes to help drivers maintain control of the vehicle during extreme cornering or slippery road conditions. A Roll Stability Control system makes similar adjustments to keep the SUV upright and on the road during emergency situations. Other standard safety features include electronic braking distribution, which distributes brake pressure evenly over all wheels, and a crushable brake pedal, which prevents injury to the driver's foot in the event of an accident.
The CX-9 also comes with a full range of airbags, including dual front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags with rollover protection for all three rows.
Optional safety features include a backup camera, which displays on the navigation system's screen, and a blind spot monitoring system, which uses radar sensors to detect objects on the side and behind the vehicle and alerts drivers via warning lights on the side mirror and instrument panel. The system also beeps to alert the driver.
What Owners Think
The CX-9's smooth ride draws positive comments from owners, as does its sporty styling, solid feel, and roomy interior. Owners also like the CX-9's sporty handling, smooth-shifting transmission, and safety features such as the backup camera and blind spot monitoring system. Some drivers wish their vehicles had more comfortable seats and a nicer steering wheel, and many find the CX-9's fuel economy a major drawback.
CarGurus owners find the CX-9 a good value, and some call it the best crossover in its class, thanks to its good performance, smooth-shifting transmission, and exterior styling. The CX-9 has good acceleration and stopping power, CarGurus owners note, and a good variety of optional features. On the flip side, CarGurus owners would like to see more interior storage spaces and better fuel efficiency.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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