2008 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Road Test

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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: 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: I'm Flippin' Stuck

June 12, 2008

Mazda features three different key designs and our CX-9 features the switchblade one (there's also the credit card and the 3's old school). I'm a big fan of the switchblade design, having had one with my old Jetta for seven years. While some people chew gum or twirl their fingers through their thick luxuriant hair, I would incessantly open and close the switchblade either in the open or stealthily in my pocket -- and I know I'm not alone in this. Plus, it was a compact key design that took up minimum real estate in my pocket...

Unfortunately, our CX-9's switchblade gets stuck, or more accurately delayed, 50-percent of the time. Sometimes it whips right up, other times there's a lag. There's nothing gumming it up, so I figure it's a minor design flaw considering the key to a Mazda 6 I rented was also stuck. That was much worse, though, and I couldn't open it without pulling at both ends. There was never a problem with my Jetta, and at 55,000-plus miles our Jetta TDI's fob is still flippin' strong.

Southpaw editor Bryn MacKinnon also commented that switchblades are annoying for lefties because they open into their hands when the button is pressed with a thumb. Of course, pressing the button with your index finger fixes that, but perhaps Ned Flanders' Leftorium has a solution.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2008 Mazda CX-9: It Never Happened

May 05, 2008

I got the keys to our Mazda for the weekend. Yes, a bachelor party weekend in Vegas. I was to rush out there to pick up my buddies at the airport. They were flying in from Seattle, New York and Denver... Well, one thing leads to another and I wasn't able to get out of LA easily. I got slammed in traffic all the way to the bright lights of the Strip and my friends had to share a van to the hotel.

What happened past my arrival to the bar where they were all waiting for me never happened. Especially if any of our girlfriends, fiancée's or wives ever ask.

But I can tell you there are a few hard and fast rules about Vegas: Everyone is on the take, never ask a cabbie or doorman for advice because the get kickbacks. Know when to hold them. Know when to run. Lastly always, ALWAYS, "forget" to bring a camera to the bachelor party because it never happened. You don't want that kind of evidence to come back and haunt you. It could be sofa city for the next month, buddy.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2008 Mazda CX-9: "Hey, is that the new Buick?"

March 31, 2008

Last week I was driving our long-term Buick Enclave when a friend asked if it was the new Mazda SUV he'd been hearing such good things about. He was referring to the CX-9. No big deal, I quickly corrected him and thought little of it.

But then yesterday I was in our long-term Mazda CX-9 and another friend asked me how I like the new Buick Enclave I was driving.

This is of course the first time in history a Buick has been mistaken for a Mazda and vice versa, but you know what, now that they mention it, the they do kind of look alike.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 10,566 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Wrong Way!

March 17, 2008

2008 Mazda CX-9 - Brent Romans

How's this for surreal? I was driving our Mazda CX-9 north on California's 5 freeway near the Grapevine, a local term for what is in fact the Tejon pass. I was one lane over from the fast lane. Traffic was light.

I was glancing at the radio, and when I looked back at the road, I saw a silver Honda Civic driving the wrong way in the fast lane.

I've seen people drive the wrong way down one-way streets before but never on a major interstate. I watched the Civic drive past. It was an elderly gentleman driving, and he apparently had no idea that he was going the wrong way. My meager and reflexive response? I honked my horn at him. (By the way, I took the above photo a few minutes after the event to give you idea of what I-5 is like at this point. When I first spotted it, the Civic was close to where that white SUV is.)

I have no idea how long this guy had been driving south – it must have been a while given the sparse exit ramps at this point of the 5 and that he had moved over to the "fast" lane. Nor do I know what ultimately happened to him. But I was a bit rattled. Afterwards, I tried a couple of mock emergency lane changes in our CX-9 just to simulate if I had been in the fast lane. It's not the most secure-feeling thing to do in a 4,500-pound vehicle, but our Mazda stayed pleasingly planted nonetheless.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @9,640 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Comparisons are Flattering

March 10, 2008

An occupational hazard of working for Edmunds.com is that you become an eternal car shopper. After only minutes behind the wheel of our 2008 CX-9 I began wondering what it cost and could I afford it. Being a savvy shopper I knew I needed to compare my theoretical purchase to other hypothetical purchases. A small part of me hoped the Mazda wouldn't compare well, I could rule it out and reclaim my peace of mind.

Wrong.

Using our "Compare Vehicles" tab, it said that the CX-9 competes against the 2008 Acura MDX, 2008 Buick Enclave, 2008 Saturn Outlook and the 2008 Volvo XC90. Of these vehicles the Mazda (base MSRP of $31,615) is also the cheapest (except for the Saturn at a base MSRP of $30,670 minus incentives). More importantly, the Mazda is probably the most driveable of the vehicles in the group.

Probing a little deeper though, there was some sobering news. In this group, the Mazda's depreciation wasn't as strong as I had hoped. Of the five vehicles, the resale value of the Acura was the strongest by far. Many would say that Acura has lost its edge and that Mazda is every bit as capable. But buyer's opinions about automotive brands change slowly and depreciation costs are real.

Moral of the story, before you buy, test drive the numbers too.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor @9,272 miles

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2008 Mazda CX-9: Truck of the Year?

January 23, 2008

Photo by James Riswick

It has been over a week since the 2008 Mazda CX-9 has been voted North American Truck of the Year by a group of some 46 automotive journalists from around the country, and I haven't heard a peep of controversy. Frankly, I'm surprised.

Not that I dislike the Mazda CX-9. I like it quite a bit. I agree it deserves some sort of "Of the Year" honor.

The North American part, I can see. Sure, it is built in Japan, but it is sold here. The NACOTY committee would miss out on a lot of good iron (and aluminum) if they ignored cars sold here but made elsewhere. Some of them would have GM badges on them, too. Besides, the CX-9 was designed expressly for Mazda's North American customers.

But, is it a Truck? The definition of that term, for me, has been stretched to the breaking point. If anything that is not car-shaped can be called a truck then is my cup of coffee a truck?

A truck can haul a lot of stuff, go off road and, properly equipped, tow a big trailer, right? A bed helps, but I'll accept traditional SUVs on the grounds that they can be said to have an enclosed bed or a permanently-installed and nicely trimmed shell. A Chevy Suburban can do these things, so it's a truck.

A truck is not front wheel drive at its core. Neither does it have a transverse engine. Its 4-wheel drive system is not simply a means to avoid installing tire chains when heading to the ski slopes. These are car traits.

This is why they're called crossovers, folks. Cars like the 2008 Mazda CX-9 and the Buick Enclave are not cars and they're not trucks. What they are closest to--and the marketing guys are going react as if someone just shouted that the emperor is wearing no clothes--is a minivan or station wagon.

The North American Car of the Year committee ought to have recognized by now that the auto world, like politics, could stand a third, centrist party. MPV of the Year, anyone?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,090 miles

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