What's New for 2007
The largest Mazda to date, the 2007 CX-9 is a large crossover SUV that features a not-just-for-kids third-row seat along with the sporty styling and enthusiast-oriented performance expected from this brand.
Most people still associate Mazda with sporty cars like the MX-5 Miata and RX-7. True, the company still focuses much of its attention on making its products enjoyable to drive. But this year many people might be surprised to learn that the automaker has released not one, but two all-new crossover SUVs. In addition to the new CX-7 five-passenger sport-ute, the company has created its largest passenger vehicle to date, the full seven-seater CX-9.
Although they look similar, the 2007 Mazda CX-9 is not simply a stretched version of its smaller brother. The two utes have different powertrains, chassis designs and body panels. Indeed, the CX-9 shares more components with the new Ford Edge crossover than it does with any Mazda product. In terms of size, the Mazda is bigger than the now-departed MPV minivan and even about 11 inches longer than a Honda Pilot.
As is typical for this class, the CX-9 provides owners with a high driving position, generous cargo capacity and the ability to take on slippery roads worry-free. Inside, the second row can slide fore and aft by about 5 inches and the third row has enough legroom to handle adults on a short-term basis.
The CX-9 is powered by a new V6 that makes a healthy 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. And it will happily run on 87 octane gas. Although the CX-9 is rather portly at more than 4,500 pounds (AWD model), the combination of the brawny V6 and an automatic transmission with six gears to work with provides performance that makes it feel much lighter. Mazda's senior family vehicle also offers sporty driving dynamics thanks to a performance-oriented suspension design. Emphasizing the latter point is the fact that 20-inch low-profile tires come standard on the upper "Grand Touring" trim level.
Thanks to its sporty DNA, rakish good looks and real-world versatility, the 2007 Mazda CX-9 will serve families quite well. Its fresh design should make it appealing for shoppers tired of older (but still capable) vehicles like the Pilot or Highlander. It also betters the Subaru B9 Tribeca in terms of price and interior room and outperforms the Chrysler Pacifica. Overall, we think Mazda's biggest vehicle is a strong choice this year for a midsize or large crossover.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Mazda CX-9 is a seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that's available in three trim levels. The entry-level Sport comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power features, keyless entry, cruise control and a CD player. The mid-line Touring version adds leather seating, heated/powered front seats, Bluetooth connectivity and heated side-view mirrors. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring adds 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, mirror-mounted turn signal repeaters, rain-sensing wipers, keyless start, wood cabin accents, memory driver seat presets and special blue cabin illumination.
Options include Bose audio, a sunroof, a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Assistant Package bundles a navigation system with rear park assist (with rearview camera) and a power rear hatch.
Powertrains and Performance
All Mazda CX-9s are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with a manual mode is the sole transmission. Buyers of all three trims have a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. The AWD system operates in front-drive mode until slippage is detected, at which point up to 50 percent of the power can be sent to the rear wheels. No low range is offered, as the performance-oriented CX-9 is geared more for tackling slippery pavement than rock-strewn trails. Well-matched gear ratios in the quick-thinking automatic make the most of the V6's available power, giving the over 2-tons-plus CX-9 a "light on its feet" feel whether battling downtown traffic or blending onto a fast-moving freeway. Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control (including roll stability control), a tire-pressure monitor, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags come standard on all trim levels of the 2007 Mazda CX-9.
Interior Design and Special Features
Mazda's design heritage shows up via the dash and steering wheel designs, which echo those of the Miata and RX-8 sports cars. The tall center console reinforces the sporty feel, enveloping the driver in the cockpit. Two-tone upholstery as well as wood and metallic accents give the Grand Touring model a luxurious feel, while features such as rear park assist and a power liftgate make parking and shopping less stressful. The highlight of the cabin is the roomy two-passenger third-row seat, which is well-shaped and roomy enough for a 6-footer. Access to that third row is eased by large rear door openings and the fold-and-slide second row. Cargo capacity stands at 17.2 cubic feet with all seats up, 47.5 cubes with the third seat folded and a massive 100.7 cubes with the second and third rows down.
The V6 has strong pull through the midrange, as well as impressive smoothness and a sporty sound when the whip is cracked. Despite the power on tap, the front-drive version is free of annoying torque steer. The six-speed gearbox is well sorted, as it snaps off timely shifts without hesitation. When pressed through a twisty section of blacktop, the 2007 Mazda CX-9 feels buttoned down and lighter than it really is, thanks to the sport-tuned suspension and low-profile tires. The steering is precise and direct, if a bit light on-center. Ride comfort is generally well-damped, though the 20-inch wheels on the CX-9 Grand Touring model transmit some chop when driven over the expansion joints of concrete freeways.