- Dynamic feel
- Anti-bread loaf styling
- Engaging, useful three-row interior
- Not as large as the largest full-size crossovers
- Small center console
- May be too sporty for some
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 may be the best-driving full-size seven-passenger crossover out there. It is certainly one of the best looking and appointed.
The term "crossover" is misleading. In the strictest automotive sense, crossover vehicles like the 2008 Mazda CX-9 are supposed to be car-based vehicles that look and perform something like SUVs. However, when you begin to look for the "car" hiding under many of today's crossovers, they're nowhere to be seen. If you look far enough back in the CX-9/Mazda family tree, you will find roots in the sporty Mazda6 sedan. And those roots tap fertile soil.
This seven-passenger crossover was introduced in 2007, and today offers an alternative to "the minivan" that totally avoids the dull and boring stigma associated with mommy mobiles. Simultaneously, the 2008 CX-9's styling avoids going in the false "I'm tough" direction of many SUVs. For the Mazda CX-9, 2008 brings only minor changes such as more power thanks to the enlarged V-6 engine that has grown in displacement from 3.5 liters to 3.7 liters. Horsepower is up to 273, helping the CX-9 maintain its sporty edge. Unlike many high-horsepower V-6 engines out there, the Mazda's does not require premium fuel to hit its claimed power. A six-speed automatic is standard.
The front seats are comfortable, and the back is too, but the 2008 Mazda CX-9 is not the biggest of the big crossovers--it's a touch smaller than a Buick Enclave, for example. But it is one of the prettiest, and its deft steering and handling give it a carlike feel.