Mazda CX-9 – A Roadster with Flash and Style
By Kathy Chin Leong

Soul Red Metallic.  That is one of the upsell colors of the redesigned Mazda CX-9, well worth the $300 upgrade when you love the scarlet snag of this new three-row crossover. On a trip to Mendocino from the Bay Area, this red $40,000 gem was a jewel in the rough woods with precision handling, gentle turning, and quiet driving throughout.  

Other crossovers feel a bit tight in terms of real estate, but not this one. There’s plenty of headroom space here in the cabin and storage space. Even the front console between the driver seat and passenger is large and deep enough to fit a laptop.  Further, the tech controls are enough to send you to the moon. Rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, power moon roof, 8-way power seat for the lucky driver, power rear lift gate for opening and closing, and an auto-dim rear view mirror adds to the car’s mystique, among many other features. 

Just as the commercials depict this car as one that is crafted with care, the details on this Front Wheel Drive version stand out like a charm. The interior design shows ample attention to detail from the smooth leather steering wheel to the leather trimmed seats. There is automatic transmission, but you get a stick-shift like experience with this sports knob shift which is bound in leather, of course. Pretty impressive for a car that is not traditionally in the luxury category of a BMW and Cadillac.  This version and many Mazda models feature a standalone GPS and car info screen on the dash, and it sticks out in a perpendicular fashion. I first thought you could fold it down, but you cannot.  This is one design feature I am not particularly fond of.   

And other than style, safety for our readers at Bay Area Family is essential to protect those little guys we love.  This car is likened to being the family watchdog on the road. Its mission is to protect you at all costs.  For starters, you can buy a package with 24-hour roadside assistance. Bundled into the car is a tire pressure monitoring system, dynamic stability control to keep you balanced, roll stability control so you do not roll over. 

It features a Smart City Brake so that it will automatically brake when it senses a car in front of you that is too close.  A windshield-mounted laser does the sensing for you. It is crafted to reduce rear collisions and does so when you are driving at 20 mph or less. That is the speed where 60 percent of rear end collisions occur, according to Mazda officials. A Smart City Brake Support is also available at high speeds.   The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave this one a top pick for 2016.   The braking feature is one of the benefits of the overall iACTIVSENSE and SKYACTIVE safety technology.  The car issues a rear cross-traffic alert when another auto gets too close on the side.  It also comes with a lane departure warning system that activates when you drift.    

And let’s talk about passenger comfort. Seats in second row can recline all the way back, and the second row can scoot up to make for more legroom for Row Three riders.  Plus, for Row Two, the comfortable center armrest and lots of cup holders.  Third row is big enough to hold adults, and cup holders for the back seat are an asset.  The trunk space is generous as well.  When you have a big load to carry or bikes to haul, note you can flip all the rows down completely flat.  

The car is powerful enough to tow up to 3,500 pounds, so you can pull a trailer for camping if you need.  And it features a SKYACTIVE-G 2.5T engine releasing 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.  For wannabe racecar drivers, there is a sports mode that makes the car roar. It adjusts the transmission and engine to feel like a sports car driving experience.  This does result in more fuel consumption, though.  You access sports mode pressing the Sport Mode button, and an indicator light appears on the instrument panel.  

On this vehicle, you get an average of 25 miles per gallon, with 22 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.  That’s a tad more compared to the Honda Pilot Elite, GMC Acadia, and Dodge Duango. On a 19-gallon fuel tank, you can obtain a range of 507 miles.  

The CX-9 came through with flying colors after a week’s worth of test driving in the wind, rain, country roads, freeways, and city streets.  You will do okay on SUV fuel economy, you gain style points, roominess, and a sports car feel whenever you are in the mood.  
Mazda CX-93-Row Crossover
Price range:  $32,460 - $45,300 

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