Performance » 8
Shopping for a new Mazda CX-9?
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
it out-slaloms others matching its girth
Car and Driver
editors have been impressed with the CX-9's enhanced energy
Despite its substantial size and weight, it acquits itself surprisingly well on curvy country roads
Kelley Blue Book
This crossover rides more firmly than others in this class
There's just a single engine-transmission combo available with the 2011 Mazda CX-9, but it's a fine one, with strong acceleration and quick shifting.
The 273-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 outmuscles most of the engines in its rivals--and it doesn’t require premium fuel, unlike some of those vehicles. It's refined, almost butter-smooth at speed, and doesn't send vibration into the cabin. Could it use a little more low-end grunt? Sure, but the big six isn't slow off the line, by any means.
A smooth-shifting six-speed automatic is the only gearbox, though it can be coupled with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Shift quality is about the best you'll find--though the same engine in the Ford Flex comes with a turbocharging option and paddle shifters for a total of 360 hp.
The 2011 CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Mazda's reputation for sweet handling carries over to the CX-9, the largest vehicle it's ever built. Steering feel is crisp, with good weight and a good sense of on-center feel. The independent suspension delivers responsive handling for a vehicle of its size and weight; of course, it's not so nimble as the smaller CX-7, but it's considerably taller and heftier. If there's any complaint to be lodged, it's with the big wheel-and-tire package that comes on Grand Touring models; the treads can make the CX-9's ride seem overly firm for what's really a near-luxury vehicle.
The 2011 Mazda CX-9 reconciles its size and utility with good handling and acceleration.