Mazda’s CX-9, the automaker’s largest crossover sport-utility vehicle, has a multitude of virtues and hardly any shortcomings.
No slab-sided SUV, its lines are at once bold, dynamic, understated and refined. Stellar design elements extend to the well-appointed interior, with its good-looking, functional controls. The cabin has a rich feel, approaching entry-level luxury status on the upper trim levels.
Mazda’s attention to detail verges on obsessive: Nickel-plated covers on the driver’s power-seat controls provide a satiny feel, while 53 pounds of extra under-carpet insulation, a dual-pane windshield and front windows reduce cabin noise. Backseat room is ample, though third-row seating and cargo and towing capacity lag behind the competition.
Just one engine is available, but it’s a winner: a 2.5-liter turbo four cylinder that produces 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque for plenty of low-end grunt. Fuel economy is decent, too. Low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard.
In the end, the CX-9 delivers precisely what SUV owners are after: good looks, plenty of power, drivability, commendable fuel economy and high value.
Base Price: $33,500
Crash Test: 5 stars
MPG: 22 city, 28 highway
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