Vacation to New Mexico with the wife and kids? In the long-term CX-9? "Sign me up," said technical editor Kim Reynolds, who took our award-winning Mazda to Cimarron and back, stopping along the way at Taos, the haunted St. James Hotel, the Petrified Forest, White Sands National Monument, Tombstone, and McDonald's. And what sort of transport did the CX-9 turn out to be for their 2500-mile excursion?

"Quiet, comfortable-riding, and the Sirius Satellite Radio and second-row DVD entertainment system were appreciated," opines Reynolds, "but this is obviously no minivan. Our suitcases were crammed so high in the back we could hardly see out, and every cubic inch below the kids' feet was jammed with DVDs, coloring books, sweaters, jackets, separated shoes, piles of crayons, geodes to be later cracked, etc." Any other quibbles? "The radio knobs are way too separated from each other, with the farther one requiring a totally unnecessary reach for the driver; the angling side windows make it difficult for the kids to see out; and I'm surprised to the point of disbelief that I never knocked myself out by walking into the open rear hatch door that doesn't rise nearly far enough."

After a week, Reynolds found more to praise in the CX-9 than just its satellite radio, DVD, and quiet ride. "The CX-9's AWD was reassuring on the few gravel roads we meandered onto, its side mirrors are big, it has plenty of power, the six-speed is a silky wonder, and the interior is relentlessly attractive. The dash's design reminds me of deco furniture-very handsome."

As a father of two, Reynolds is a full-on family man and thus appreciates that other kind of people hauler a bit more. "The CX-9 is a great around-town shuttle and probably a terrific ski-weekend getaway vehicle, but for giant family trips, er, no. When we revisit this part of the country again (somehow we missed the Lightning Field environmental sculpture, the Trinity A-bomb site, and the libertarian-populated, gun-toting Pie Town where everybody carries a gun and evidently eats lots of pie), I hope and pray it will be in one of those yucky, awful minivans."

As for the satellite radio, it has recently gone AWOL. We're hoping a dealer visit will remedy the lost connection. Stay tuned.


2008 Mazda CX-9
Months/miles in service 10/22,833
Avg econ/CO2 16.6 mpg/1.17 lb/mi
Unresolved problems Satellite radio out
Maintenance cost $225.90 (3 oil change/inspection/rotate tires)
Normal-wear cost $0