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Mazda's 2014 CX-9 is a compelling entry in the midsize crossover market

The smooth lines of the CX-9 give it a pleasing, attractive appearance. Mazda, did, however, change the tailpipes from sexy rectangular to round ones.
The smooth lines of the CX-9 give it a pleasing, attractive appearance. Mazda, did, however, change the tailpipes from sexy rectangular to round ones. by Nick Hromiak

While Mazda’s CX-5 AWD crossover is a hot seller right now, if you need three row seating and gobs of cargo space, their CX-9 crossover is for you.

Slippery smooth flowing lines gives the CX-9 a sleek look
Slippery smooth flowing lines gives the CX-9 a sleek lookby Nick Hromiak

Although the CX-9 is considered a midsize, it offers seven-passenger seating whose interior is more full-size. It’s spacious and almost car-like with its 18.5-inch step-in. And Mazda designers did a superb job on the interior with a waterfall type dash design that melds nicely into door panels, vertical stack and console. They also maintained sensible, simple and straightforward HVAC controls without a gimmicky mouse or touch screen controls.

Offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models, we tested the latter that came loaded with desired safety, convenience and amenity items. In fact there was only two optional items of rear bumper guards ($150) and GT Package ($2,438) that included Bose audio, Sirius radio and sunroof.

When slipping into the cabin you’re treated to nicely supportive heated leather seats with sueded and perforated inserts that had contrasting red stitching for a sporty look. Suede also extends to the door panels for a classy, warm look and feel.

As said, HVAC controls are simple large rotary dials that can be operated with gloved hands. A 5.8-inch touchscreen display doubles for audio functions, GPS nav and rearview camera. Offered too is Pandora radio and USB ports for auxiliary attachments.

With the Grand Touring model, the CX-9 comes shod with 20-inch Bridgestone tires, power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, bi-xenon headlamps, LED running lights rain sensing wipers and more.

Rear seat ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide doors that open almost 90 degrees. The second row seats split and fold and slide well forward by pulling a large handle on the sides of the seat. This allows easy access to the third row seats that, like most third rower’s, are mainly for kids or petite adults.

With the third row up, the space behind the seats measures 18.5 inches deep, 46.5 wide and 31.5 high. Flip them and depth extends to 48 inches. And when folding the second row, depth stretches to 78 inches or 6.5 feet. Cargo load height too is an easy 30.5 inches.

The CX-9 gets its spirited spunk from a 3.7L, 273-hp V6 that generates 270 lb/ft of torque. It sends this grunt to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The combination has EPA mileage ratings of 16 city, 22-highway mpg and carries a tow rating of 3,500 pounds. The AWD version, incidentally, was 0-60 tested at 8.5 seconds. Not bad for a 4,585-pound crossover.

Ride and handling are impressive. This is the perfect vehicle for a trip to Orlando for a family of four or more. The ride is decent on the 20-inch tires but would probably be better on 18s. Despite this, it’s a quiet ride with good road feel. The compliant suspension feels planted and precise on city streets and interstates and it parks easily with a relatively tight turning radius.

With the aforementioned options, the top-line Grand Touring model bottom-lined at $40,995 with delivery, which included a 29x15.2-inch sunroof and rear entertainment system. This is, a lot of content for the money.

The only demerits given the CX-9 were for too tall rear seat headrests, and, lack of padding on the sides of the console box.

The headrest problem could be resolved by using the same lower profile center rest for the outboard ones. That, and the sides of the console could use padding since most drivers rest their legs against it while driving. It’s probably even more troublesome when wearing shorts.

The CX-9 received a “Good” rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a four star government overall rating, three stars for frontal crash, five for side crash (it comes with side impact door beams) and four for rollover.

To check out a compelling CX-9, stop by Lehigh Valley Mazda on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.