2008 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Road Test

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Fuel Economy Update

October 20, 2008

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I had the keys to the CX-9 for its last weekend in our LT fleet. So I took it to dinner, a walk on the beach and then we headed back to my place for a nightcap and a tearful farewell. And then I measured its lifetime fuel economy (I'm quite the romantic). Last month, I reported in the Big List of Fuel Economy that the CX-9's recorded lifetime fuel economy was 18.1 mpg. What I didn't mention then was that number was current as of February 2008. Seems we hadn't updated the fuel log in a good many months. When I plugged nearly 8 months of data into the spreadsheet today, I got a slightly different number.

With all the additional data, it was 18.2 mpg. (I did say it was a slight difference.) EPA estimates for the large crossover are 16 city/22 highway/18 combined, so we're pretty much on track.

Only once in all its time with us did anyone manage to squeeze more than 400 miles out of one tank: Dan Edmunds drove 444 miles (strrrrrrrrrrrretch!) on 19.331 gallons of gas and achieved 23 mpg. Karl Brauer pushed the limit of the 21.0 gallon tank with a fill-up of 20.683 gallons (squeak!) after 355 miles and returned fuel economy of 17.2 mpg.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 23,589 miles

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Mazda CX-9 is Well Traveled

September 29, 2008

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After a 480-mile weekend round-trip to the Central Coast, I was hoping to shed some new light on our Mazda CX-9. I discovered, however, my fellow bloggers had already made 40 posts on the well-traveled vehicle. Oldham has illuminated us on the dim bulbs which are indeed poor, MacKinnon logged our collective fuel economy, to which I can now add my 20 mpg average, Riswick documented the fritzy window switches that seem to have fixed themselves, and Riches, among others, posted a warning about the handy-yet-miniscule rear-view camera that I can attest is even harder to see with polarized sunglasses.

Despite my daughter's best efforts to adjust the rear HVAC knobs with her feet from the child's seat, they didn't fall off once, unlike Jacquot's experience. And only after reading Brauer's post about the counterintuitive audio controls did I learn that it wasn't necessary for me to push-push-push the toggling tune button to advance radio stations. (The multi-functioning tuning knob is directly below the button I used--duh.

About the only thing I can add is that Sirius satellite radio is very difficult to use in the absence of a more advanced display. The over taxed dot-matrix display (that also shows time of day, HVAC temp and mode) reads, "Loading" for about 5 seconds when you finally land on a station with a limited ability to display what and where you are on the dial. Happily, we've got a few key stations saved as presets which made jumping ahead a little less problematic.

I performed the initial testing back in January, and it still feels as sporty now as it did then. The CX-9 really does drive smaller than it really is, which is big. I wish I had more to share, but the highly competent CX-9 has seen a ton of use in its 9.5 months with us. At this rate, it'll likely rack up 30,000 miles before it leaves in January.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 22,736 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: The 3.7-Liter Cyclone Finds A Home

September 23, 2008

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Our long-term 2008 Mazda CX-9's 3.7-liter V6 also sees duty in the Mazda 6 s and the Lincoln MKS. Sure, sure -- Mazda's "MZI 3.7" isn't identical to Ford's "Duratec 37." The former is assembled in Japan, while the latter hails from the Midwest, and some mild tinkering with the MKS version has made it infinitesimally more powerful. But for all intents and purposes, it's the same engine.

Anyway, what a difference a bodystyle makes. When I sampled the MZI 3.7 in the Mazda 6 s, it sounded a bit too brawny for my tastes, as though it had been borrowed from a truck (which, of course, it had). In the MKS, the Duratec 37 sounded surprisingly grainy at higher rpm, in stark contrast to the numerous silky-smooth powerplants available at that price point (Toyota/Lexus V6, Hyundai V8, BMW inline-6, etc.).

But in the CX-9, the MZI 3.7 sounds just right. The engine note isn't as mellifluous as that of Toyota's 2GR-FE V6, yet it's muscular and refined -- precisely what I'd hope to hear in a sporty crossover SUV. It's another strong point of this arguably best-in-class vehicle.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 21,707 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Show Me the Light

September 16, 2008

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After five nights straight in our long term 2008 Mazda CX-9, I'm convinced it has the unusually weak headlamps. They don't seem to be on. I keep double and triple checking the switch and the reflection in the car I'm following just to make sure. And my wife, always the backseat driver, keeps asking me, "Are your lights on?"

Now, we have a CX-9 Touring, which is the middle of three trim levels and comes with the same halogen headlamps as the base Sport model. The top of the line Grand Touring trim comes standard with Xenon Hight Intensity Discharge lights or HIDs (shown in photo) and a set of foglights, which our Touring model does not have.

The illumination seems to be worth the money.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 21,626 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: One Truck, Nearly 3,000 American Flags

September 15, 2008

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Spent a few hundred very enjoyable miles in our long term Mazda CX-9 this weekend, including this trip to Pepperdine University in Malibu, California to check out its inspired tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Nearly 3,000 flags were placed on the school's front lawn (one for each American life lost in the attacks) that borders the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. It was quite a sight, and will remain in place until this Thursday. If you live within driving distance I highly recommend a visit.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 21,567 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Not So Auto Up/Down Window

September 05, 2008

Mazda CX-9 Auto Up/Down Window Switches

Our CX-9's auto up/down function for the driver's window is malfunctioning. It still goes up and down, but pushing through the usual auto detent does nothing. You have to hold it in order for the window to get all the way open or closed. Woe is me. How did we ever function without auto up/down? Luckily the passenger side auto/up is still working. Maybe we can move the steering wheel.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 21,089 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Showing Some Crack

August 14, 2008

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This will seem totally trivial and lame to some while a few others will get why I think this one feature is cool.

The CX-9 has the one-touch feature for both front windows - that's one touch down AND up. A nice feature for sure, but there's one other thing that I really like. If you tap the window switch, just tap it, the window will open with a pre-set gap. For those who occasionally like to "crack" the window a bit it's great. Excellent attention to detail Mazda - now make the ride a little softer so I can love the rest of the car.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Stick With The 18s

August 11, 2008

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As noted in Edmunds' recent crossover comparison drive, "the CX-9 is the seven-plus-passenger crossover all but one of us would take home." Confession: I was the one. The Veracruz got my vote instead. Why? Two reasons: (1) the Veracruz had a significantly more compliant ride than the CX-9 Grand Touring in our comparo while still offering decent handling, and (2) the Hyundai's interior materials quality was leaps and bounds ahead of the Mazda's.

There's not much that can be done about (2), but our long-term CX-9 Touring provides a simple solution for (1). Whereas the CX-9 Grand Touring has 20-inch wheels, our long-termer rolls on 18s. Result? Its ride is comparatively supple, with no discernable handling penalty at any sane cornering speeds. Translation: if you pushed these CX-9s to the point where you could tell a difference, you might not come back in one piece. It's just a shame that Mazda makes you roll on dubs if you want the Grand Touring's top-of-the-line luxuries.

I still like the Veracruz a lot, but our long-term CX-9 handles better while offering a satisfactorily cushioned ride. Slap some Hyundai-style soft-touch materials on the dash and I'd be sold.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,837 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Long Way Down to 1st Gear

July 28, 2008

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I prefer to use the manual-shift option if a car offers it, especially in stop-and-go traffic because it helps me stay off the gas and brake pedals. Just go back and forth from 1st to 2nd gear and I'm not always nudging the gas to move up 5 feet. I tried this with our 2008 Mazda CX-9 but the jump in gear from 2nd to 1st is so great that it causes an undue amount of engine braking and I fear that the motorist behind me will think that I'm stopping short for no apparent reason. No biggie though. I just made sure to slow way down before I downshifted so it wasn't as obvious. Took some getting used to.

But at least I'm not this guy. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic in this car must be torture!

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Crunchy Brakes

July 14, 2008

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No one else has mentioned this before but I noticed over the weekend that the brakes for our 2008 Mazda CX-9 feel crunchy or shudder a bit. The thing is, this wasn't a consistent thing and I couldn't duplicate it if I tried. I had just noticed it when I drove it first thing on Saturday morning. But then it never reappeared as badly as it did in that first hour.

But it happened when I slowed to a stop and then pushed the pedal further to actually stop the vehicle. The flutter was so noticeable that I wondered if there was something seriously wrong. "Uh oh, the CX-9 needs to be taken in!" But then, it never was that bad again. I could still feel that faint flutter but someone else would have to really be aware of it to notice it. Anyway, thought I'd mention it to our vehicle testing assistant and for the record.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 18,857 miles

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