After The Zoom

By Paul Seredynski March 17, 2011

Zoom choice Mazda CX-9.jpg

Mazda recently loaned us a CX-9 to attend the introduction of the 2012 Mazda5 in nearby San Diego. The CX-9 is one of our favorite SUVs, and continues to impress with a nimbleness that belies its shadow footprint. You’d never suspect that the fluid and frisky CX-9 shares its seven-seat segment with Ford’s Flex, as its chassis actually speaks the language of driving enthusiasts. For those in need of the seats and space, there is still a Zoom-Zoom option.

We’re also fans of the Flex, a silly practical and cool looking box with a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 option that’s a boon for those who tow. The CX-9’s Ford sourced 3.7-liter V6 is no slouch however, and its snappy throttle response adds to the Mazda’s willing character. Thanks to its higher ride height and stylish roofline, the CX-9 gives up some space in the rear to the Flex, but that added ground clearance makes it a fearless player in the speed bump and driveway entrance wars.

Where the CX-9 lacks compared to the Ford is in technology, as in gadgets galore. The CX-9’s somewhat dated looking navigation system is functional enough, and its Bluetooth phone-pairing audio works fine. Compared to Ford’s Sync and class-leading nav and entertainment options however, the CX-9 and the remainder of Mazda’s lineup seems a bit behind the times.

The new Mazda5 left us with a similar impression. Though its swift moves have been somewhat tamed, overall ride quality is improved in a way that should better serve the fat middle of the U.S. market. But the 5 doesn’t offer a navigation option, never mind iPod control or even a USB port.

If an intentional swerve away from Zoom-Zoom was deemed prudent to garner more sales, where does that leave Mazda in a market filling with a generation that craves technology over dynamics?

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bc1960 says: 7:36 PM, 03.17.11

I'm pretty sure the CX-9 is built on the Mazda G/Ford CD3 platform, originally designed by Mazda and shared with the Mazda6/Fusion/Edge, and not the Volvo P2/Ford D3/D4, designed by Volvo and shared with the Flex/Taurus/Explorer/S80/XC90. Ford originally showed the Flex prototype on the CD3 but made the production version larger to be a better minivan alternative with more 3rd row room.

igozoomzoom says: 2:58 AM, 03.22.11

The Mazda CX-9 is built on the Ford CD3 platform as is the Ford Edge, Ford Fusion and Mercury MKZ.

I can't understand why the CX-9 doesn't sell better!?!? As of 2/28/11, YTD sales were just over the 4900 mark.

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