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2010 Mazda CX-9 (photos)

The Mazda CX-9 epitomizes the crossover, that car segment mixing the SUV and sedan. It offers a pleasant driving experience, with plenty of room in the cabin. But its tech options are limited.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 16 Josh Miller/CNET
The CX-9, launched only three years ago, is Mazda's large crossover. It works well as an SUV replacement, given that it has ample cabin room yet drives more like a car.
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2 of 16 Josh Miller/CNET
The front-end of the CX-9 exhibits some of what Mazda calls its Nagare design language, with organically flowing lines around the grille. Down the sides, the CX-9 looks like a jumbo wagon.
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A 3.7-liter V-6 making 273 horsepower is the only engine available for the CX-9, but it provides adequate power to get the vehicle around.
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With its third row seating, the CX-9 can accommodate seven people.
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The suspension gives the CX-9 a comfortable ride, not too soft but not at all hard. Stabilizer bars in the front and rear help the car remain composed.
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With the third row seats down, there is ample cargo area, but it gets much greater with the middle row down, too.
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Access to the third row involves climbing over the middle row.
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The materials and fit of the cabin are very good, with brightwork and glossy black surfaces adding a bit of luxury.
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Despite its size, the CX-9 is a very maneuverable car. We found no problem navigating urban streets.
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Steering wheel controls handle the stereo and the standard Bluetooth audio system.
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The gauges are fairly basic, but more extensive trip information is displayed above the center stack.
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The six-speed-automatic transmission shifts quickly in response to accelerator input, downshifting as needed.
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Without any options, the CX-9 would have a standard radio display, but the addition of the sunroof/premium audio package also brings in this 4.3-inch LCD.
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Bluetooth streaming is one of the stereo's audio sources, but the Bluetooth specification offers minimal control through the car's interface.
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The premium Bose audio system uses a 277-watt amp and 10 speakers, producing decent sound.
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We like the hands-free Bluetooth phone system, and the LCD shows entries from the phonebook as well as this dialer.

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