Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring: A Sporty Seven-Passenger Crossover

Highlight: For consumers who opt for the navigation system, a real-time traffic system is also included, helping drivers navigate around traffic mishaps. The Mazda CX-9 is based-off of the Ford Edge, the brand's five-seater crossover. Up until recently, the two automakers shared a relationship.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $38,510 (Base price starts at $29,930)

Grand Touring Model Major Standard Features: 20-inch wheels; a roof spoiler; heated power mirrors; tilt/telescopic steering wheel; speed sensitive automatic door locks; three-position power driver’s seat; heated (front seats only) leather seats; automatic headlights; tinted rear glass; split fold-down rear seats (second and third rows); keyless entry system; a keyless starter system; and an electronic Blind Spot Monitoring system

Standard Audio System: a 6-speaker AM/FM radio with a CD player

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.7-liter, 6-cylinder/273-hp

Standard Fuel Mileage:17-city/24-hwy

What’s New: Mazda’s flagship front-wheel drive crossover receives redesigned wheels and improved fuel economy for the 2011 model year. The vehicle’s last major update occurred during the 2010 model year.

Pros: The CX-9 is available in three models: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. For those buyers residing in a snowy climate and are willing to pay more to step-up to the Touring and Grand Touring model, an all-wheel drive configuration will be available. Unfortunately, price-sensitive consumers who land on the Sport model will have to forego this low-end model if they opt for the all-wheel drive system.

Furthermore, Mazda has managed to add a number of must-have optional features to attract consumers looking for more than a sporty, responsive ride, especially when equipped with the 20-inch wheels. Buyers interested in such high-end options will have to step-up to the well-equipped Grand Touring model. With the Grand Touring model, one can opt for such features as a 10-speaker Bose audio system, a power moonroof, a 6-month subscription to Sirrus satellite, a navigation system, a rear view camera, a power liftgate and a DVD player entertainment system. Also this is the only vehicle in this segment to offer a radar-controlled Blind Spot monitoring system, which alerts the driver of objects in its blind-spot, before changing lanes.

Cons: Like most automakers attempting to squeeze-in a third-row of seats, the CX-9 third-seat isn’t really suitable for most adults. (Let’s just refer to this as kid friendly seats.) Also with so many automakers moving toward oversized panoramic roofs (skyroof)these days, Mazda’s engineers could only up the cache of the well-equipped Grand Touring model by adding this feature to the option list.

Furthermore, we found the seats to be a little too firm for us. Hopefully, Mazda will add a little cushion to the seats in the near future. Also unlike its competitors, the Mazda CX-9 doesn’t offer captain chairs for the second-row passengers. Besides these minor gripes, there wasn’t much too dislike about this well-equipped people mover.

The Verdict: With the Mazda CX-9, one doesn’t feel like that they’re driving, a run-of –the-mill seven-passenger crossover. While the base model is priced about $1,000 more than both the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot, it’s in line with the domestic makes (GM and Ford).

Overall the well-built, spacious, sporty crossover is capable of competing with the best. And with the Mazda CX-9 one won’t feel quite like they’re driving a soccer mom’s (dad’s) vehicle like many of its competitors.

So consumers who opt for a third row and couldn’t squeeze enough folks into the five-passenger CX-7 will find that the CX-9 will fit the bill.

Competition: Chevy Traverse, Ford Explorer, Ford Flex, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander

No comments: