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Mazda CX-9 2010 Review

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  • very roomy
  • lots of power
  • three-row aircon
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  • thirsty engine
  • difficult bluetooth
  • still looks bulky

Somebody in Mazda's product department has a sense of humour, or at least an appreciation of the ridiculous.  How else do you explain a naming protocol that has an MX-5 as a two-seater, a CX-7 as a five seater and a CX-9 as you guessed it a seven-seater.

The numeric confusion aside, Mazda really does have its ducks in a row when it comes to getting the family around.  The CX-7, essentially a sports sedan on steroids, has long been a favourite (if you could forgive its lack of fuel economy something that has recently been addressed with a new engine). The bigger, roomier and more powerful CX-9 is just more of the same.

Styling and space

While the stylists have done their best to disguise the size of this big unit, using sweeping lines and upswept wedged glass there is no getting away from the CX-9's imposing dimensions.  At 5.1 metres and more than two tonnes it would be reasonable to expect that room within the cabin would be reasonable, something that is often not the case with vehicles boasting a third row for passengers.

One of the nice things about the CX-9 is that you are not going to be disappointed too often. Space is something the car has plenty of.  Leg, shoulder and head room for the driver and front seat passengers is class leading while those in the second row have little to complain about with the possible exception of the runt of the litter who will be settled on one of those half-seat affairs that suffice for the centre seat.

In the third row, while the long-legged may find knee space at a premium, the seats are generous to a fault with good bolstering and lots of width for those of a Rubenesque stature.  For a car first launched almost four years ago albeit fully refreshed with a classy interior makeover late last year the CX-9 still ticks most of the boxes, including one that is the focus of more angst for buyers of seven-seaters than any other issue: the lack of space behind the third row when the seats are deployed.

In the big Mazda you can fit a good-sized family shop, a couple of suitcases or a golf bag with ease. When the seats are laid flat the load capacity behind the electric-close rear hatch is truly impressive.

Engine and gearbox

To move a fully-loaded CX-9 is a considerable task, one Mazda has given to a quite refined 3.7-litre V6 with a handy 204kW and impressive 367Nm of torque. That sort of motive power, even coupled to a custard-smooth 6-speed automatic, is going to come at a cost.

Mazda claims a 12.2 litres per 100km combined economy. During our time with the car admittedly all in the suburban and city grind the average fuel use hasn't dropped below 16L/100km. It sounds a lot, but in the world of seven-seaters that is very competitive.

The fuel economy is not hurt by the AWD system concentrating on the front wheels until the slip sensors in the rear put out a call for a bit of action.  Overall, it works exceptionally well with the CX-9 giving the impression of shrinking around the driver, responding quickly and without fuss to steering input and acceleration.

Fit-out and equipment

The Grand Touring ($63,186) we are driving is the top of the CX-9 tree and has all the bells and whistles, including a very handy rear-view camera without which reverse parking would be a true test of nerves.  Safety is a given in the Mazda with eight airbags, including curtains for the rear seats, and a full dictionary of electronic aids starring the all-important dynamic stability program. 

Also included in the top-end package is satellite navigation, a good Bose sound system, keyless entry and start, and an air-conditioning system that is not only effective but feeds to all three rows without the need to have the fan on cyclonic.

The most annoying thing about the CX-9 (and a couple of other Mazdas of recent acquaintance) is the Bluetooth phone setup. For whatever reason it does not like my Nokia a phone which has had no problems making friends with any number of other Bluetooth environments.

Pairing is easy enough, it automatically connects when the car is turned on and then lies in wait until that first important phone call when the system disconnects. The really clever part of that strategy is that you can't reconnect while the car is moving, necessitating pulling over and then going through the connection a second time which seems to satisfy the beast.

I really like the CX-9, so maybe I will just change phones to one it approves of. 

Bottom line: One of the better non-anorexic seven-seaters on the market.

Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

Price: $63,186
Engine: 3.7L/V6, 204kW/367Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, on-demand AWD
Economy: 12.L/100km (combined, supplied), 16.1L/100km (on test)



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Range and Specs

Classic 3.7L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $13,990 – 15,990 2010 Mazda CX-9 2010 Classic Pricing and Specs
Grand Touring 3.7L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,888 – 19,999 2010 Mazda CX-9 2010 Grand Touring Pricing and Specs
Luxury 3.7L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,950 – 19,995 2010 Mazda CX-9 2010 Luxury Pricing and Specs