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2010 Mazda CX-9 ReviewThe Good
Mazda improves its CX-9 crossover SUV for 2010 by introducing a number of exterior and interior updates, including a revamped grille, upgraded seat upholstery, and new interior chrome accents.The Bad
Mazda fails to address areas of concern expressed by CX-9 owners in previous years, such as the SUV's fuel economy, third-row-seat legroom, and inadequate number of interior storage spaces.
The CarGurus View
Despite its few drawbacks, the Mazda CX-9 delivers a fun, functional, and well-rounded package for 2010, combining both sporty and luxury-oriented elements in a solid, well-designed body. The high-end Grand Touring trim in particular comes standard with such features as a Blind Spot Monitoring system, typically offered only as an option in similar vehicles. Owners seeking a safe, well-equipped SUV with seating for seven should give the CX-9 a look.
At a Glance
The Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV receives a wide range of updates for 2010, including exterior revisions and an upgraded interior. New exterior features include a restyled grille, headlights, and foglights, as well as larger, more aerodynamic side mirrors and a revamped rear end with new taillights, which mimic the look of the front headlights. In addition, Mazda offers the CX-9 in a new Dolphin Gray color for 2010.
Inside, updated features include a new center console, upgraded fabric seats, and chrome accents throughout the cabin. In addition, the leather seats, which come standard in upper-end trims, now have a more quality feel with subtle stitching.
Introduced in 2007, the Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV seats seven passengers in three rows. Available trims for 2010 include the entry-level Sport, the mid-level Touring, and the top-of-the-line Grand Touring. As in previous years, all CX-9 trims come equipped with either front-wheel drive or with Mazda's Active Torque Split all-wheel drive system.
The exterior updates for 2010 continue to refine the CX-9's exterior design, inspired by the futuristic Mazda Nagare concept car. The front end incorporates Mazda family-wide design elements, while the steeply angled windshield, swept-back roofline, and flowing design of the side windows create a sleek, sophisticated appearance. Trapezoid dual chrome exhaust pipes finish off the rear end. Other exterior features include a roof spoiler, LED taillights, and rear privacy glass.
A 3.7-liter V6 engine, which carries over from the previous year unchanged, powers all CX-9 trims. The V6 generates 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, providing good performance for accelerating and passing at highway speeds. In all trims, the engine links to a six-speed Sport AT electronically controlled automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode.
AWD trims feature Mazda's Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system, which sends 100 percent of torque to the front wheels during normal driving conditions, but sends torque to the rear axle or to wheels with traction when it detects slippage. The AWD CX-9 trims achieve fuel economy numbers of 15/21 mpg, according to EPA estimates, while fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive trims improves slightly to 16/22 mpg.
Front-wheel-drive CX-9 trims can tow up to 2,000 pounds, and up to 3,500 pounds when equipped with an optional Tow Prep Package. AWD trims, which include the Tow Prep Package as a standard feature, can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Ride & Handling
The 2010 CX-9 rides on a car-based platform, making it the only SUV in its class to do so. It features a four-wheel independent suspension with Macpherson struts in the front, a multilink configuration in the rear, and stabilizer bars in both the front and rear. The stiff unibody chassis helps ensure a tight, solid ride, while rack-and-pinion steering with engine-speed-sensitive variable power assist ensures good agility and control. The Sport and Touring trims ride on 18-inch wheels, while the Grand Touring comes equipped with 20-inch wheels.
The CX-9 performs well around town, delivering smooth acceleration, and stays flat in corners, with minimal body lean. However, it can feel heavy at times, given its rather hefty curb weight of 4,334 pounds (4,550 for AWD trims), and can feel oversized in some parking lots.
Drivers will find the CX-9's gauges easy to read and access on the T-shaped instrument panel. In addition, the entertainment and climate controls are clearly marked for easy operation. The first and second rows offer plenty of legroom, although taller adults will feel cramped in the third row. 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. Owners can also store gear in a cargo area under the rear floor.
Cabin & Comfort
The 2010 CX-9 features a comfortable and versatile cabin with a 60/40-split fold-down second-row seat, which slides forward and back, and a 50/50-split fold-down third-row seat. The Sport trim receives upgraded high-density seating fabric for 2010, while the Touring and Grand Touring trims both come standard with upgraded leather upholstery in the first and second rows, and vinyl seats in the third row. Manually adjustable front seats in the Sport trim upgrade to power-adjustable front seats in the Touring and Grand Touring trims.
Other new features for 2010 include interior chrome accents, piano-black insets on the steering wheel and around the audio display, and an upgraded leather-trimmed double-lid center console with storage for up to four DVDs and nine CDs. All trims come equipped with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, three-zone automatic climate control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, and remote keyless entry. The Touring trim adds heated front seats, while the Grand Touring also includes dark-silver and wood-tone trim, driver's seat memory, a second-row center armrest, and electroluminescent instrument gauges.
A six-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD player, an MP3 input jack, and steering-wheel-mounted controls comes standard on all CX-9 trims. Drivers can add Sirius satellite radio as an option, or upgrade to a 10-speaker audio system with Bose speakers and a 6-CD changer, or an 11-speaker system with a 9-inch rear-seat DVD player. Other options for the CX-9 include a power-sliding glass moonroof and a power-operated liftgate, both available on the Touring and Grand Touring trims, and a DVD-based navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen, available on the Grand Touring trim.
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 2010 CX-9 received a top rating of five stars for protecting passengers in front and side impacts from the NHTSA, and four out of five stars for rollover protection. Antilock brakes, traction control, Dynamic Stability Control, and a Roll Stability Control system are among the CX-9's standard safety features. The CX-9 also comes equipped with a full range of airbags, including dual front side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags with rollover protection for all three rows.
The Grand Touring trim comes standard with a Blind Spot Monitoring system, which monitors areas on both sides of the vehicle and alerts the driver via a warning light and audible signal when it detects vehicles entering those areas. In addition, owners can add an optional backup camera with a color display, available on the Touring and Grand Touring trims.
What Owners Think
The 2010 Mazda CX-9 handles and performs well, according to owners. Although it can feel heavy at times, it delivers respectable acceleration and good mid-range torque, with responsive steering. However, most owners would like to see better fuel economy from the CX-9. Owners give the CX-9 good marks for its solid feel and overall fit and finish, and find the interior roomy and comfortable, although some would like more room in the rear seat. Owners would also like more interior storage spaces. Such safety features as the Blind Spot Monitoring system and optional backup camera get good marks from owners. The exterior design receives mixed reviews, although most owners like the rear-end design. Overall, owners consider the CX-9 a good value and would recommend the vehicle.
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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