Mazda’s style is unique, there’s no denying it. With the company’s most recent design refresh, the Japanese carmaker went bold; with that large grille and huge Mazda emblem, every vehicle’s front end now looks like a beak.
Which brings us to the CX-9, Mazda’s three-row, seven-seater SUV. The Grand Touring I drove over a weekend dazzled in a bright flashy red, a shade called Soul Red Crystal Metallic that’s the only paint on the the list to cost an extra $595. Right off the bat, the CX-9 makes big look cool, with aggressive lines and smooth, sloping curves.
I wasn’t expecting the wave of torque the first time I stepped on the gas to merge onto the highway (which is definitely a blessing on Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway, with its short on-ramps). When I think huge crossover or SUV, I assume, hey, you put your foot to the floor, it considers accelerating for a while, then finally it goes. The CX-9 does not fit into this stereotype—the power is immediate.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the Mazda infotainment setup. It all looks very pretty, but once you dive into the settings, it doesn’t seem very intuitive. For example, it took a little too long just to figure out how to adjust the head-up display; it was hidden under Settings and then under AD Display, which is a term I never would think to look for, even when going through the physical manual.
The moonroof is itty-bitty. When dealing with a car of this physical magnitude, it really should be panoramic. Maybe I have a large moonroof problem, but who doesn’t like to see the sky?
As a single 20-something living in New York City, though, this three-row Mazda is far too large for my particular needs. The one-rung-down CX-5 is probably a better choice for someone in my shoes—if not the even-smaller CX-3. The CX-9 is 199 inches long, compared to the CX-5’s 179 and the CX-3’s 168; it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be hauling around an extra 30 inches, even if it’s part of a fun-to-drive SUV. And hey, don’t forget—no matter which Mazda crossover you chose, it’s going to be damn good-looking.