Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive


"Crossover utility vehicle" is 21st century newspeak for "station wagon." But behind the wheel of the Mazda CX-9 you may think you're driving a sports sedan - until you glance at the five people sitting behind you. This is a practical family car that is actually sort of fun to drive. Riding in the third-row seat - not so much.

CAR AND DRIVER SAYS: "The CX-9's external size means a spacious interior for the front five passengers, while third-row detainees will beg those in the second to please slide their seat forward. This is done easily enough; the second-row seats have over 5 inches of travel. The seat rails have three positions within those 5 inches. The rearmost allows even 99th percentile testers to fit comfortably in the second row, but leaves no room for anyone much over 5 feet tall in the third seat."

WHAT'S SPECIAL: Yes, the interior is built to haul seven people, but it is designed to fit the driver. The deep center console and dash create a driver-centric cocoon. Adding to the illusion you're in a sports sedan is the car's agility, a product of precise speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering.

WHAT WE LIKE: Even people older than 10 can easily get into the third-row seats.

YOU OUGHTA KNOW: The 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission combine to get this family rig up to freeway speeds quite smartly. For slowing down, there are four-wheel disc antilock brakes. There is electronic stability control with rollover control. The CX-9 is available with all-wheel drive.

AND ANOTHER THING: The side-curtain air bags, which cover all three rows, deploy in a rollover crash and stay inflated for six seconds to protect passengers.

About the vehicle

Body style: four-door crossover

Trim lines: Sport, Tour, Grand Touring

Price: Base $29,035-$33,875

Drive: front-wheel, all-wheel

Seating: two in front, three in second row, two in third row

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Miles per gallon: 16 city/22 highway