An attractive alternative to a boxy minivan.
The Mazda CX-9 crossover is a great alternative to a minivan, because although it offers three rows of seats inside, the Mazda has much more interesting sheetmetal and better driving dynamics. The long wheelbase leaves lots of room for passengers inside, and with twenty-inch wheels pushed far to the corners, the CX-9 has the handling to match its sporty looks. Best of all, the CX-9 is blessed with what is likely the best steering of any crossover, making this a good choice for driving enthusiasts who need a larger vehicle. The only engine choice is a silky-smooth 3.7-liter V-6 that produces a more than adequate 273 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive and can send power to the front or all four wheels, depending on configuration. A lengthy list of luxury goodies is available, including a touchscreen navigation system with real-time traffic information and a rearview camera, heated seats, Bluetooth hands-free integration, blind-spot monitoring, and a Bose high-end audio system. The third row of seats and the cargo area aren’t as commodious as in the best minivans, but the CX-9 is still considerably more stylish than traditional boxy vans and SUVs.
new for 2013
Mazda has not yet announced any changes for the 2013 CX-9.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and rollover stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Blind-spot monitoring is optional.
Fuel economy isn’t great
Not as roomy as a minivan
Base Price Range: $31,500–$36,500 (est.)
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 7-passenger
ENGINE: 3.7L V-6, 273 hp, 249 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 210.0 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 2000–3500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 17.2/48.4/100.7 cu ft