Hot on the heels of winning Motor Trend's 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year title, not to mention a June 2007 comparison test in which it outgunned the Acura MDX and GMC Acadia, the Mazda CX-9 has joined our long-term fleet, poised to prove it can remain a staff favorite following a year of grueling service. So far, so good, as every staff member who's slid behind the wheel has opted for extended stays, evidenced by over 5400 miles on the odometer in less than two months of duty time.
Of course, there's little not to love with the CX-9, especially in topline Grand Touring AWD guise, as is our tester. Dressed in elegant Liquid Platinum paint, our GT AWD, with a base price of $35,250, boasts a slew of nifty and luxurious features, including leather-trimmed seats, a Smart Card keyless-entry system, an eight-way power driver seat, electroluminescent gauges, rain-sensing wipers, and Xenon headlamps. Options? Naturally. We added a $2560 rear entertainment/Bose audio option (DVD player, nine-inch LCD, 296-watt 11-speaker Bose surround sound, audio and video auxiliary inputs, and in-dash six-CD changer), and a $2500 assistance package (nav, rearview camera, and power hatch), a $525 towing package (receiver hitch, wiring harness, heavy-duty transmission cooler, and radiator fan), a $430 Sirius Satellite Radio, and a $275 auto-dimming mirror with compass and HomeLink. All said and done, our CX-9's sticker swelled to $41,540.
Last June, when the CX-9 beat the Acura MDX and GMC Acadia, it was motivated by a 3.5-liter V-6 pumping out 263 horses and 249 pound-feet. Refined and robust, the 3.5 was no slow-poke, delivering 0 to 60 in 8.1 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.3 at 85.3 mph. Just the same, for 2008, Mazda enlarged the CX-9's V-6 to 3.7 liters, boosting output to 273 horses and 270 pound-feet. The bump in power is manifested not only at the track-0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.0 at 87.5 mph-but also in the real world, where three tenths are more than welcome on a twisty road or when carrying seven passengers. Further, while editors have been impressed with the CX-9's enhanced energy, they continue to be smitten with its six-speed automatic. A carryover from the 2007 model, the Aisin automatic is one of the most refined, intuitive automatics we've sampled. It remains to be seen, though, whether the CX-9, as a package, will prove as endearing over the long haul.
| 2008 Mazda CX-9 |
| Base Price || $35,250 |
| Price as Tested || $41,540 |
| Vehicle Layout || Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine || 3.7L/273-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| Transmission || 6-speed automatic |
| Curb Weight || 4624 lb (55/45%) |
| Wheelbase || 113.2 in |
| Length x Width x Height || 199.8 x 76.2 x 68.0 in |
| 0-60 mph || 7.8 sec |
| Quarter Mile || 16.0 sec @ 87.5 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 125 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.78 g (avg) |
| MT Figure Eight || 28.0 sec @ 0.59 g (avg) |
| EPA City/Hwy Econ || 15/21 mpg |
| CO2 Emissions || 1.13 lb/mile |
| Total Mileage || 5492 mi |
| Average Test mpg || 16.2 mpg |
| Unresolved Problem Areas || None |