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BIG AND CURVY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Nov 30, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

BIG AND CURVY Words by Tommy Grafman

No, we're not talking about the latest fitness center franchise. 'Big and curvy' is an appropriate description of Mazda's newly made-over 2010 CX-9. This crossover is a full 199.8 in length and 4334 in pounds. But unlike other large size SUVs and crossovers, the CX-9 is quite stylish. It incorporates plenty of curves, not straight angles, to give an exciting and strong look that is worthy of Mazda's zoom-zoom lineage. With the sweeping headlights and 18-inch wheels, the CX-9 has the look of both work and play for a larger vehicle. I was highly motivated to drive this car and to put it through some real life experiences between work commuting and family adventures.

One of the more prominent exterior design changes on this vehicle for 2010 is Mazda's signature happy grill. I'm not a big fan of cars with happy faces. It reminds me of the Chevron Gas animated commercials. While we are on the topic of design nits to pick, the extra thick front pillars and over-sized side mirrors do cost some visibility - particularly on the front left side. On the other hand, Mazda has added the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) system for this vehicle. BSM alerts you if another vehicle is in your blind spot. And speaking of safety, the CX-9 has been awarded a 5-Star crash safety rating by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Behind the wheel, the CX-9 has impressive and responsive acceleration for a large vehicle (this is no slug). There is nothing boring about driving the CX-9. With the six-speed Sport Automatic Transmission in sport mode, there is plenty of fun to be had. The 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and four-wheel independent suspension contribute to the CX-9's great handling. And yet the ride is smooth, and comfortable and remarkably quiet. Street driving in stop and go traffic, is a breeze. It has immediate pick-up at standing starts. And stopping seems easy for such a big vehicle. Highway driving with the CX-9 is just as much fun as driving it on the streets. You feel in complete control and stable. It handles on-ramp acceleration without any issues. Lane changing and accelerating at freeway speeds felt confident for the CX-9 as well. The test vehicle's Touring edition sports a 3.7-liter V6 DOHC 24-valve engine pumping out 273 horsepower with 270 pound-feet of torque.

  The interior is roomy, open and has seating for seven passengers with plenty of legroom. The CX-9 has a powerful rear set air-conditioning (not some rear seat fan dribble). The leather interior is soft and extremely comfortable. The seats feature 60/40 split fold-down second row and a 50/50 fold-down third row. A great asset of the CX-9 is the access to the third row seating. The second row seats effortlessly slide and fold forward to give easy access to third row. Very impressive. All I need is a concierge service. With the second and third row seats folded flat down you have up to an amazing 100.7 cubic feet of storage. Even with all the seats up, you still have 17.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row. And, even though it's not a new item, the remote and one touch open and close tailgate is one of those convinces that helps the family lifestyle. Being an audio aficionado, I am please to say that this car has every great music input today - from a multi-disc changer to a direct MP3 input. From terrestrial radio to satellite radio. From Bluetooth to a bangin' Bose 10-speaker system (with a sub woofer in the rear well storage area) that rocks. Playing music from Metallica to Tony Bennett, it all sounds great.

The dash has incorporated a 4.3-inch multi-information display, including a rear TV camera. Everything is easily accessibly and intuitive. With such a big car, and dash, the display should have been double the size, but if you want the 7-inch touch screen that is only available on the Grand Touring edition. The cockpit also has a big storage in the armrest (enough for CD's, comb, sub sandwich, etc.) with a Power and MP3 port. Adding to the luxury is the big moon roof, opening up the experience. Big and curvy may not be what one expects from Mazda, but it's executed with great style I the new 2010 Mazda CX-9. With EPA gas mileage of 16 city/22 highway MPG and room for seven, it's the perfect large-size crossover for the family-on-the-go.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Big and curvy done beautifully. For more information about Mazda products, go to www.mazdausa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Price tested: $34.327 EPA Mileage: 16 City · 22 highway Engine type: 3.7L DOHC 24-Valve Engine Horsepower: 273 Torque: 270 pound-feet Transmission: Six-speed Sport Automatic Transmission w/Sport Shift Drive configuration Front-engine, front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive optional) Suspension: Four-wheel independent Front - MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar Rear - Multilink and stabilizer bar. Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes. Dimensions: 199.8 length 76.2 width 4334 weight

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