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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
The 2010 Mazda CX-9 remains one of the fastest-accelerating and best-handling crossovers its size, and it’s about the choice for those who love to drive but need three rows of seating on occasion.
There’s a single engine offering on all Mazda CX-9 models: a 273-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that's almost unanimously lauded in reviews. Motor Trend reports, "While we still wouldn't mind a tad more low-end grunt, the 3.7 nonetheless behaves in a silky, refined manner." 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 that Motor Trend describes as "seamless as a rubber glove" is standard in the 2010 Mazda CX-9. Automobile Magazine says its normally cranky critics "have been moved to paroxysms of joy when discussing the CX-9. One called the V-6 engine charming, the six-speed manu-matic transmission silky." Road & Track agrees that the transmission "shifts quietly and smoothly."
Car and Driver reports a surprisingly short 7.2-second time to 60 mph, while Motor Trend clocks in just slightly slower, at 7.8 seconds to 60 mph. ConsumerGuide notes that "CX-9s with the 3.7-liter V-6 averaged 17.3-18.1 mpg with slightly more highway driving than city use." That about matches the government fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city, 22 highway (1 mpg lower with all-wheel drive).
Mazda’s established a strong reputation around handling, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the handling of this Mazda. Car and Driver asks, "How does Mazda get such lively steering in each of its vehicles? It feels like the CX-9 wants to be a sports car." Motor Trend describes steering as exemplary for a minivan or an SUV, citing "a solid, on-center feel with zero play off-center and superb, linear response throughout the turning range."
The CX-9 is "taut and agile," says Consumer Reports, "and the ride is firm and steady, yet comfortable," though "braking distances are a bit long." Road & Track describes the steering as "satisfyingly firm with zero float."
The base-model 2009 Mazda CX-9 comes with front-wheel drive and 18-inch all-weather tires. However, for about $1,300, one may upgrade to 20-inch tires and the advanced "Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system" glowingly described by Motor Trend.
In other extensive road tests of the Mazda CX-9, reviewers at Kelley Blue Book find it "acquits itself surprisingly well on curvy country roads." ConsumerGuide reports that "a tidy turning radius makes it easy to maneuver in tight spots, a surprise given this crossover's large overall size."
For agility, acceleration, and sheer spaciousness, the 2010 Mazda CX-9 strikes a balance that’s unrivaled.