August 11, 2008
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
May 21, 2008
Stupid plans, at some point near their inception, generally start with a small grain of a good idea. They quickly devolve to a point where you wish you hadn't done anything in the first place. Well, that realization of stupidity was where three of us were this past Friday. It started five months ago when we were losing weight after the holidays. Thinking the exercise trend would continue, doing the Mountain Warfare Challenge 10K race at the beginning of summer would be a nice exercise goal. Work and life meant we lost focus until three weeks to go when we were madly trying to get in shape. Yes, this is the part we realized we were way in over our head.
Friday before the race we piled our stuff into the CX-9's ample cargo room but had to double back to grab the forgotten running shoes of one of the editors. I won't point the finger at whom, but his name starts with a "J" ends with an "n" and has and "oh" in the middle. Due to our extra travel time we were swamped in traffic near Glendale. The CX-9's AC was pumping to keep up with the oven-like heat. Thankfully controls and vents in the back meant the lone back seat passenger wasn't melting away.
May 13, 2008
Having the Mazda CX-9 and Buick Enclave as long-term cars at the same time has provided plenty of opportunity for head-to-head comparisons. Both crossovers have proven to be mile-gobbling staff favorites, but for me, I'd buy the Mazda.
I do prefer the Buick in some respects. It has better interior materials and looks nicer than our CX-9 Touring's more somber approach (a Grand Touring may have been a different story). Also, the ride is less firm and a lot friendlier on crappy highway pavement.
However, the CX-9's nimble steering and slightly smaller size (specifically the three-inch difference in width) makes it feel less cumbersome when driving around town. Its transmission is also quicker to downshift and I appreciate the automanual override provided (with preferred - + arrangement). Lastly, the CX-9 fits me like a glove. The telescoping wheel goes way out and the front of the height-adjusted seat pushes up high, providing my long legs with ample support. It's not that I'm not comfortable in the Enclave (or any of the GM triplets), but the CX-9 fits me better than 95 percent of all other cars.
If the CX-9 didn't exist, I'd probably pick the Enclave (or rather the Acadia) as an easy favorite. But the CX-9 does exist.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 14,766 miles
April 06, 2008
This weekend my family made a quick blast up to Sacramento, California, in the 2008 Mazda CX-9. For this trip, my youngest daughter brought a friend along, so we got to try it out with five aboard. Since we're kind people, we didn't make anyone sit on "the hump" for the 1,000-mile round trip. The CX-9's split-fold third row got a real-world tryout.
Since this was to be a three-day, two-night trip, we could get by with condensed luggage. With the biggest suitcases alongside (two carry-on roller bags,) my eldest daughter volunteered to take the back seat. Frankly, I think she liked the idea of a private space to herself and easy access to her stuff.
March 26, 2008
In the last seven days, I've put about 900 miles onto our long-term Mazda CX-9. A lot of this mileage came from last weekend's trip to visit my in-laws, which is about 300 miles each way of mostly freeway driving.
The CX-9 has been a great vehicle to have. For the trip, the Mazda had plenty of room for my wife, eight-month-old daughter and our associated gear and luggage.
The driver seat is comfortable and supportive, and I've been able to dial in a perfect driving position. Visibility is pretty decent for large crossover, and road noise is within acceptable limits. If there's a complaint, it might be the ride is a tad bit too firm for lots of highway driving.
Oh, and fuel economy is what I'd describe as mediocre. I averaged 21 mpg for my driving. At least I was able to push past 350 miles between fill ups.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,375 miles