A few weeks ago I drove my first Mazda and was excited about the brand - it's come a long way since I first experienced the brand (when it seemed to mostly be rebadged Fords). What I like about the brand is that they have a distinct style and while this care is CLEARLY a suburban people hauler it was fun to drive. However, the car was not without it's quirks - including one of the strangest "keyless" ignition systems that I've yet to experience.
Our first stop was to get tacos and test out some parallel parking as well as how maneuverable it was in situations where parking spots were tight.
For a large vehicle it performed great and was nimble with quick starts and stops though it was the most fun to drive on the highway.
Starting at $29,985 for the Sport and $35,035 for the Grand Touring that we tested, the Mazda CX-9 includes a 273-hp 3.7L V6 with 6-speed automatic transmission and optional FWD or AWD.
Safety features include Standard advanced front air bags, front side-impact air bags, side-impact air curtains‡, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC). Available Rearview backup camera, Rear parking sensors, Blind Spot Monitoring System and Rear Cross-traffic Alert.
Other available features include: Bi-Xenon High-Intensity-Discharge (HID) headlights with auto on/off, Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade, Power rear liftgate, Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry & Start System, Heated front seats, Power driver's seat, Driver's seat memory, Navigation system, Bose® Centerpoint® Surround Sound System with AudioPilot®, Pandora internet radio connectivity.
These all come come together to create a great car that was a lot of fun to drive.
The only weakness of the car however was that honestly it feels really dated inside and technology at least a generation behind what I experienced on the Mazda 3. Honestly though, the nits that I had were relatively minor compared to the things I liked. However, the interior of the Mazda 3 was so incredibly beautiful that I was simply hoping that this was in the same line. From talking with the rep, she said to look at the Mazda 3 as an example of where the brand is going and that as refreshes happen we should see some great improvements.
The two biggest things I had issues with the CX-9 were:
1) the keyless entry system still required me to physically put the key in the steering column and then press a button.
2) instead of a heads up display or a center LCD screen between the gauges, things like time and fuel economy etc. were squeezed into a very hard to read strip above the AC vents.
However, these things were balanced out by things that I loved:
1) Spit openings for the center console that allowed me to still keep my arm in place while the passenger opened his or her side to retrieve something.
2) Covered center cup holders in the center console that were big enough for pretty much any sized drink you could ever want.
3) INCREDIBLY comfortable seats with the head rest at exactly the right spot. This is more of a personal thing that is different from person to person but for me these just fit great.
4) Did I already mention the seats? Well these actually recline all the way flat (or pretty darn close). This makes them perfect for taking a nap on a long road trip.
Finally, this is a 3-row crossover and the rear seats were not just "bolt ons" to get a new feature. They were pretty real but folded down nicely (along with the second row) to open up TONS of space for moving things around.
Even if you aren't moving boxes, the addition of the cargo net was wonderful for keeping grocery bags upright on the way back from the store.
Overall, I was impressed with the CX-9, but am REALLY looking forward to the next generation to see what they are able to do with the interior and technology. The keyless ignition system really threw me off, but hopefully that won't bother you too much because the rest of the package is really great!