- Dynamic feel
- Anti-bread loaf styling
- Engaging, useful three-row interior
- High-quality feel
- Available all-wheel drive
- Not as large as the largest full-size crossovers
- Small center console
- May be too sporty for some
- Some tire/road noise
features & specs
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.
2008 Mazda CX-9
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 has a sophisticated style that doesn’t shout SUV or minivan.
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 may sport minivan-like interior room, but there’s nothing boxy about its shape, inside or out.
Consumer Reports likens the CX-9 to “a longer version of the CX-7 but…much nicer,” while Cars.com says, “the CX-9 manages to avoid the chunkiness of many SUVs, in part because of its angular nose and car-like honeycomb grille.” Motor Trend dissects the look and says that “from the steeply angled windshield and sharp fender flares to the slanted headlamps and the distinct trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips, the CX-9 puts a spin on the traditional two-box sport 'ute and punts it into orbit.” Car and Driver notes its “handsome styling,” while Automobile says for such a large vehicle, it’s “almost svelte, with a sleek windshield, a sinuous waistline, and buff haunches.”
Reviewers from across the Web found even more to like about the interior of the 2008 Mazda CX-9. Edmunds feels at Mazda, 2008’s CX-9 “offers one of, if not the best, interiors in its class in terms of styling, ergonomics, quality and space." Road & Track found the Mazda CX-9 to have an "equally appealing, if slightly less dynamic, interior design." Motor Trend reviewers are a bit more specific about what they enjoy in the 2008 Mazda CX-9, saying "metal-rimmed gauges and simple but elegant center stack, delights aesthetically and ergonomically." They note the effect on the Mazda; 2008’s CX-9 is brought together with "calming, indirect blue lighting and a pleasing mix of horizontal and vertical elements."
2008 Mazda CX-9
The Mazda CX-9 is a rare crossover, with truly carlike performance.
With a retooled engine for 2008, Mazda’s CX-9 adds horsepower to a vehicle already imbued with fine handling and, especially, direct steering.
The V-6 engine in the Mazda CX-9 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.
Car and Driver adds that torque “jumps 21 pound-feet to 270. The extra oomph is noticeable on the drag strip—a front-drive 2008 CX-9 we tested shaved 0.5 second off the 7.8-second time posted by a front-drive 2007 model.” Motor Trend clocks in just slightly slower, at 7.8 seconds to 60 mph. Automobile 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 notes that “observed mileage to date—18 mpg—has been just above the EPA combined estimate of 17 mpg.”
Car reviewers praise the handling of this Mazda; 2008’s CX-9 is “taut and agile,” Consumer Reports says, “and the ride is firm and steady, yet comfortable,” though it adds “braking distances are a bit long.” Road & Track describes the steering as "satisfyingly firm with zero float." When test driving the 2008 Mazda CX-9, they go on to note that it "turns in nicely and remains flat when cornering"; however, there is "a little thrashiness under heavy acceleration from a standstill or at low speed."
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." In other extensive road tests of the 2008 Mazda CX-9, reviewers at Kelley Blue Book found that it "acquits itself surprisingly well on curvy country roads." When traveling faster, the Mazda CX-9 "rides smoothly and quietly at freeway speeds." ConsumerGuide bucks those opinions, saying the Mazda CX-9 exhibits "some body lean in fast turns" and describing the steering as "slightly numb on-center," though they did add that it "is nicely weighted while cornering."
2008 Mazda CX-9
Comfort & Quality
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 has good room even in the third row, and high-quality interior trim.
Reviewers across the board found a lot to like in the comfort offered by the 2008 Mazda CX-9, though as with many crossovers, third-row passengers may find it cramped.
Road & Track describes the 2008 Mazda CX-9 as having "a touch of sportiness without intruding on driver/front passenger comfort." Thanks to special attention paid to driver and passenger comfort by Mazda, 2008 CX-9 models all employ "front seats [that] are very comfortable and envelop the torso gingerly."
Kelley Blue Book says seating is a high priority in this Mazda; 2008’s CX-9 blends "front bucket seats and two-tone trim [that says] 'sports car'" with the passenger comfort and cargo capacity of a minivan. Second-row seats can be folded down to afford extra legroom for adults in the third-row seats. Additionally, the second-row seat slides five inches and has "reclining backrests."
ConsumerGuide says the "2nd-row seat [that] slides and reclines, which is a comfort plus." They further describe the 2008 Mazda CX-9 trim as affording "ample legroom"--though particularly "tall occupants may wish for more headroom" in the first and second rows, due to the extreme angle of the Mazda CX-9 windshield. Motor Trend says, “Six-foot adults won't mind the third row for short to medium trips, while kids will love it back there.”
Cars.com points out that cargo room is decent in the Mazda; 2008’s CX-9 has “17.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the 50/50-split third-row seat, which can also fold flat.”
The build quality is as sturdy as you might expect from Mazda. Car and Driver notes the “top-notch interior,” and figures "the [Mazda 2008] CX-9 should enjoy an impressive resale value." Consumer Reports says, though, “first year reliability has been below average.”
2008 Mazda CX-9
Less top-heavy than most sport utilities, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 crossover is remarkably stable, sturdy, and laden with safety features, making it eminently suitable for a family vehicle.
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 performs well in crash testing, and has a complete range of standard and optional safety features. It scores five stars in crash testing at the NHTSA and earns the IIHS’s “good” rating.
Kelley Blue Book reviewers make note of the full blanket of safety that the 2008 Mazda CX-9 creates with "six sets of air bags" installed as "front, side and full-length side curtain" systems. Additional safety features in the standard Mazda CX-9 trim include "four-wheel, ventilated anti-lock disc brakes (ABS)."
The all-wheel-drive Mazda 2008 CX-9 models also come with the proprietary "Traction Control System (TCS) and [a] Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)" system that shifts power between all four wheels depending upon the weight carried by them at any given time. The base-model 2008 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. They and the reviewers at ConsumerGuide also note that "There's no noticeable difference between 2WD and AWD models."
Among the safety options available are a blind-spot warning system that Cars.com reviewers note is "designed to alert drivers of items in the rear blind spot of the vehicle." Additionally, Mazda offers a rearview camera that Jalopnik says alerts drivers to obstacles behind the vehicle via a "high-res 2.4[-inch] LCD display housed inside an automatic-dimming rear view mirror."
2008 Mazda CX-9
Even the base "sport" model is well equipped, but to fully experience the luxurious features offered in the 2008 Mazda CX-9, be prepared to add about $10,000 to the bill.
The 2008 Mazda CX-9 comes well-equipped in base trim. Mazda offers a long list of options, which can push the price of the CX-9 well past $40,000.
Cars.com says those “standard features include air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and cruise control.”
Options include a third-row entertainment system with DVD playback on a 9-inch seat-mounted LCD screen; a sunroof; a towing package; and a moonroof. Motor Trend says the rear-seat entertainment system “that features a nine-inch LCD and 5.1 surround sound with 11 speakers” is “not available with a moonroof.”
Other options include all-wheel drive, satellite radio, a navigation system, a power tailgate, and a Bose audio system. When equipped with those features, the price “can often touch the $40-grand level,” Motor Trend says.
Cars.com reports, “there's also an optional blind-spot warning system that will be available in the fall. It's designed to alert drivers of items in the rear blind spot of the vehicle.”