The 2013 Mazda CX-9 SUV Crossover excites and disappoints, when it comes to performance. The only engine available is a 3.7-liter V6. This is a strong and reliable engine that marries to a six-speed automatic to deliver 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This is more than enough power for most people, and it can safety tow 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. Unlike many SUVs that are rear-wheel drive, CX-9 comes standard as a front-wheel drive vehicle, which most would see as a bonus. Plus, all-wheel drive is available. The biggest disappointment comes with acceleration speed and fuel economy. Although the front-wheel drive model does okay, taking 7.5 seconds to reach 60 mph; all-wheel drive trails a full second behind. Then, you look at gas mileage and see that CX-9 returns only 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, as an all-wheel drive vehicle; front-wheel drive numbers are not much better. Handling and ride quality do get rave reviews though. CX-9 offers precise, communicative steering, while a compliant suspension absorbs potholes and bumps in the road. Not to mention, this SUV has only a 37.4-foot turning circle, so it is extremely easy to maneuver and park in tight spaces.
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• Audio - The base audio system is nothing to get excited about. However there is a 10-speaker Bose® CenterPoint® surround sound available. It includes Pandora, sms text messaging audio delivery, HD radio, USB port, SiriusXM® satellite radio and a 5.8-inch touchscreen display.
• Navigation System - Get to where you need to go with the navigation system that is available on Touring and Grand Touring trims. Enjoy maps and turn-by-turn directions.
• Rear Seat Entertainment - Keep rear seat passengers entertained with a nine-inch screen and DVD player. It even includes a game port and 115V power outlet.
There are definitely mixed reviews when you explore safety. When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, CX-9 did receive top safety scores in front and side-impact protection, but scored only a “Marginal- rating in roof-strength. Braking capabilities are impressive though, taking a respectable 123 feet to stop from 60 mph. Safety features worth mentioning include:
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Blind spot monitoring
• Traction control
• Roll stability control
• Dynamic stability control
• Side-impact door beams
• Rear backup sensors
• E911 emergency notification
• Engine immobilizer
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Child seat anchors
• Triple H body construction
• Rear door safety locks
• Collapsible steering column
Although the CX-9 did receive an extensive refresh for 2013, one cannot help but think Mazda could have done more. It is a nice looking vehicle with clean lines and simple styling, but it really does not offer any “wow” moments. If it weren’t for its rear privacy glass, roof-mounted spoiler and dual exhaust outlets, it would border on boring. The 29-inch wheels are nice, but only available on Grand Touring.
Mazda CX-9 has a shining moment with the interior. This vehicle offers a spacious cabin with three rows of seating that are all adult friendly. Even the third row is roomy and easy accessed due to overly large door openings, and fold-and-slide second row seat. The styling is quite elegant and far more upscale than what you might expect from a vehicle in this segment. The dash and doors offer a graceful waterfall motif and there are an abundance of storage options throughout the cabin, starting with a center console bin that features a split monitoring lid that is quite unique.
There is a ton of cargo space in the CX-9. With all seats in place you get 17.2 cubic feet. This isn’t a lot but it will hold a load off groceries with a full house. If you need to haul cargo, fold the seats down to take advantage of 100.7 cubes.