"As an enthusiast's three-row sport/ute," says Jurnecka, "the CX-9's combo of strong power and positive handling combine to betray its real size and weight." Jurnecka was also fond of the posh cabin and overall appeal. "The interior materials are beautiful and lend a true upscale feel to the CX-9 that puts it on par with the products of some of Europe's better automakers. I'm not convinced many people need a crossover this large, but this is the one to have if you do." Suggett agrees: "Driving the CX-9 and the Veracruz back to back along the same Los Angeles-Kingman, Arizona, route, the Mazda really outclasses the Hyundai: It accommodates more cargo, feels nimbler on the road, and features a far nicer interior. Overall build quality is definitely a notch above that of the Veracruz, only reaffirming our decision to name it 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year."


2008 Mazda CX-9
Months/miles in service 14/32,868
Avg econ/CO2 17.0 mpg/1.14 lb/mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $617.01 (4 oil change/inspection/rotate tires, replace air filter)
Normal-wear cost $490.92 (replace tires)