Before purchasing I tried a few other SUV's, none matched the handling characteristics of the Mazda. The vehicle feels planted on the highway during the worst weather conditions. At first the firm ride was a concern but it isn't meant to be a Town car. A firm ride is the trade off enabling the vehicle to perform more like a passenger car. No doubt you're aware of its size when behind the wheel but it drives like a smaller vehicle.
The CX-9 at first seemed to be a great car, very roomy and fairly comfortable. Fuel economy seems to be low for the size of car, averaging only 14-16 in-town, and 18 on the highway. The biggest challenge, and reason for the bad review is the Transfer Case. I have found several other reviews, matching this issue, and as far back as 2011. The transfer case failed at 12,500 miles, and filled the car with toxic oil fumes from the gear oil aspirating through the venting system. My wife and daughter got sick, and had respiratory issues through the evening and night. The technician informed me this was a known issue with the CX-9, and they have new T-Cases on hand due to how many they replace. The tech also informed me that this happens frequently at even a lower mile range, sometimes as early as 3,000 miles. Customer service was completely accepting of responsibility, and attempted to down play the "known" part of the issue. Even though it is easily found on several review sites, and the dealer had recent examples to discuss with me while I was turning it in for repair. The toxic fumes filled the car within a few seconds, and fully engulfed the interior with a stench that has not come out, similar to cigarette smoke. On a smaller, and a much less horrifying note, the Blue Tooth in this car takes up to five minutes to connect. Very poor blue tooth system.
There is so much great about this vehicle that I hate to nag about the few inadequacies and design flaws, but just to get it out there for discussion....For instance, I would like about 30 more horsepower on the acceleration. I like the extra interior width, but I miss the way the Mazda3 seats kind of hug you and make you feel secure. I don't like the way that the transmission downshifts to 4th gear when you are going over 60 and let your foot off the gas. It seems to assume you are entering an emergency slow-down mode..but I'm just trying to coast downhill for gas mileage...I'd be complaining a lot more if gas was still $4 a gallon. Even if I throw it in neutral at speed, it just doesn't seem to roll free as if there trans. is still engaged. It syncs with my Samsung G3 for music but fails to download texts...weird. Why does the stereo button for "seek Down" have the arrow on the RIGHT side of the button? Shouldn't it be on the LEFT edge? I can see why the $300+ storage area "cover" is not found on many of these, It just doesn't seem to fit and cover nearly as well as my friend's Tribute, which was what prompted me to order it...I am kind of disappointed with it. You can easily see behind the 2nd row even with the cover installed. I suppose they changed the way it covers due to the 3rd row of seats. The cargo cover is flimsy, not rigid like it was in the Mazda3. Also, it cannot be left in place when the 3rd row seats are up. I wish they had designed it so it could be parked behind the 3rd row of seats AS WELL AS the second row. Overall, it is so much fun to drive that I find myself always volunteering to drive when I go somewhere with my friends or family. It really amazes me how much it drives like a sports car...in the form of a bus...a little more HP and I could be convinced that it actually IS a sports car. The suspension is amazing! Paired with the AWD, I have applied modest effort trying to get it to lose traction with and without rain and have had no success...it just grips the road. Wish they had retractable running boards available for my mom to get in easier. My main reason from upgrading from the Mazda3, I sometimes travel weeks at a time for work (or pleasure), the storage space is fantastic! The storage flexibility of so many bi-fold seats is something I find incredibly useful. Thank you Mazda!