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The Mazda CX-9 is a midsize crossover utility vehicle. It combines the cargo capacity of an SUV with the fuel economy, ride quality, and handling of a car. It's a swift and stylish alternative to a mid-size SUV or a minivan.
The 2010 Mazda CX-9 gets some significant updates, including minor styling revisions: Exterior updates include the corporate five-pointed grille, side mirrors redesigned to be larger and more aerodynamic, taillights that feature a texture inspired by the Nagare concept car, an additional chrome trim piece above the license plate that echoes the chrome trim floating in the front grille, and two new wheel designs. The CX-9 was introduced as a 2007 model, so these changes represent mid-cycle updates to a proven product.
Inside, Mazda aimed for a more upscale look for the 2010 CX-9 by adding piano black insets on the steering wheel and radio display and chrome trim to the door handles, door trim, instrument panel and many controls. A double-lid center console design is also new, as is a 4.3-inch display screen on models without the larger navigation screen.
The Mazda CX-9 is a great people hauler. It can carry seven six-foot passengers, thanks to a third-row seat designed with adults in mind. It's easy for a 5-foot, 6-inch woman to climb into the CX-9 because there's no need to climb up into it. Yet the seating position is high enough that the driver looks over at, not up to, drivers in big SUVs. We found the cabin surroundings handsome.
The CX-9 is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, providing a nice option for those who worry about snowy travel in hilly areas. Properly equipped, the CX-9 is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds.
What sets the CX-9 apart are its sporty looks and the road manners to back them up. The CX-9 responds quickly to driver input, feeling surprisingly enthusiastic about travel on a serpentine two-lane. Performance is provided by a 3.7-liter V6 engine delivering 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This refined, 24-valve power plant was designed by Ford and is built in Ohio before being shipped to Japan where the CX-9 is assembled. It works with an impressive six-speed, Japanese-made automatic transmission that can be shifted manually if the driver is interested in some frisky motoring.
Electronic stability control, which helps the driver maintain control on slippery surfaces, comes standard on all models, along with roll stability control, and air curtains, which provide head protection in a side-impact crash. The CX-9 has received the U.S. government's highest possible ratings (five stars) in frontal and side impact crashes, and four-star ratings for rollover resistance. All Mazda vehicles come with a roadside assistance program, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, throughout the United States and Canada.