Bulging fenders, a steeply raked windscreen and aggressive angular headlamps create a profile reminiscent of a sports car. The CX-9 looks much smaller from a distance than it actually is.
Straight on, the CX-9 carries Mazda's current corporate styling motif, with the same five point grille and swept back headlamps of the Mazda 5 and 3.
The CX-9 possesses a sports car profile with sweeping horizontal body lines that imply motion.
In Grand Touring trim, the CX-9 receives chrome surrounds on the tail lamps, a chrome accent bar on the liftgate, and chrome doorhandles.
With the addition of the Assist package, our CX-9 gains a power liftgate, which raises and lowers with the touch of a button.
With its folding third row seats, Mazda says the CX-9 can seat up to seven passengers. Behind the third row is a spacious 17.2 cubic foot storage area with plenty of space for groceries. With the second and third row seats folded flat, the cargo volume jumps to a downright cavernous 100.7 cubic feet.
Inside, the CX-9's leather seats and ambient lighting give the appearance of luxury, but the materials feel cheap compared to a true luxury vehicle.
Standard on Grand Touring models is a smart card keyless entry and start system that lets you lock, unlock, and start the vehicle without taking the keycard out of your pocket.
Electroluminescent gauges and ambient blue lighting help round out the CX-9's sporty image.
Its 3.7 liter V6 engine sends power through a six speed automatic transmission with a sport shift mode. This coupled with an all-wheel-drive system that shifts power around on demand means that it's pretty easy to end up going faster in the turns than a vehicle this size should.
The addition of the Assist package adds a DVD navigation system with voice command and touch screen.
Our CX-9 included a 296 watt Bose stereo system with a six disc in-dash changer and 11 speakers. The system really shined when a standard audio CD was inserted and the Bose system was allowed to work its full range.
Listening to MP3 CDs, we found the system to be more than adequate, but navigating file folders was sluggish.
Our vehicle was equipped with a back up camera, which saved us from a few bumps.
Behind the motorized touch screen is a six disc in-dash CD changer.
The POI database is rather limited and made difficult the finding of specific locations.
Sirius satellite radio is available as an option. Oddly enough, if the CX-9 is equipped with Sirius, such as ours was, the aux-in is disabled leaving confused owners with what amounts to a dead jack.
Speed sensitive volume and a centerpoint speaker complete the Bose audio package. though we found that for best sound it's best to leave the center speaker off unless watching a movie.
Once we'd gotten past Mazda's backwards destination selection system, the device performed beautifully, showing crisp maps and overlays detailing the next step.
Second and third row passengers are treated to a nine inch flip down DVD player with two sets of wireless headphones. DVD playback was crisp and clear and sound was good coming through the headphones and great when piped through the 5.1 surround Bose system.
Contrary to our experiences with points of interest, the address entry system is easy to use and intuitive.
273 horsepower from a 3.7 liter V6 does not make the CX-9 a quarter mile star, but there's more than enough torque for freeway merges.