It is always nice to find a big car with the soul of a small one. Even though the Mazda CX-9 has everything to be your everyday school runner, it actually conserves enough style and punch under the hood. Not only that, Mazda went overboard in terms of comfort and luxury giving the CX-9 a fighting chance against an Infiniti or an Acura. You might find the difference between the Mazda and a QX60 a bit clearer once you are on the road but we are more than happy to give Mazda an A for accomplishment.

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At first sight the CX-9 is quite daunting. Its massive size suggests a sluggish ride but nothing could be farther away from the truth. The crossover is quick to respond and, despite its enormity, it can turn easily and in a tight radius. In terms of handling, the suspension is hard but comfortable and steering feels stable even in tight corners. The Mazda’s acceleration is more than enough, going from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds. The 2.-liter, turbocharged SKYACTIV-G engine can deliver 250 hp at 5,000 rpm and a torque of 420 Nm at 2,000 rpm. It takes some effort for the CX-9 to accelerate past the 120 km/h mark since its 4-cylinder engine is not built to race. However, it can certainly manage a comfortable ride once you manage to rev it up to reach the speed you want.

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The brakes are equally responsive, contributing to an overall sense of safety coupled with a sensitive blind spot monitoring system and braking assistance. Mazda also included its i-ACTIV AWD intelligent traction to give the CX-9 the whole package. This system has 27 sensors that monitor speed, acceleration, slope, temperature and several other factors to apply the proper torque in each wheel.

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As you can see, everything is fine behind the CX-9’s wheel. The real surprise is what you find before turning it on. The central console is elegant and well designed. The gearshift is placed close enough to the driver’s seat so you do not have to strain. Plus, every knob and button is only inches below. Just like with other Mazda models, the main knob controls the touchscreen’s varied menus. It certainly is easy to use but it can become tiring if you do not know what you are searching for or how.

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The seats are comfortable in the front and the back. The driver’s seat is fully adjustable and perfect for a long ride. The second row is equally inviting and even with three people the car would not be overcrowded. Sadly, to guarantee enough leg room in the second row, Mazda sacrificed much of the space in the third row. If there are six of you traveling, you do not need to worry as you will have the entire row for yourself. However, with just one more person you might want to take turns to crunch in the back. Luckily, if you are planning to drive with just your copilot and a whole lot of luggage then you are in for a treat. The trunk is spacious enough but you can fold the third and the second row to gain more space than anyone could ever use, provided that you do not need more than 2,017 liters of space.

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If you find yourself caught between your flaring sports car and the idea of an SUV, the Mazda CX-9 might be ideal for you. It has everything a new family might need but it keeps enough excitement for the petrolhead in you.

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