As a swing dancer, I know that large, even overweight folk can be light on their feet and rock solid in quick maneuvers.
That’s an apt description for the 2020 Mazda CX-9, the brand’s three-row seven passenger SUV, with features no swing dancer can claim.
My recent route between New York City and ski resorts a couple of hours north in the Catskills, was a combination of dry, wet and snowy roads.
Even in wintry crud, there was no need to activate the traction control, since the CX-9 was stable and confident no matter what was under the tires.
And it was a model of fuel efficiency, despite its size and full-time AWD. I clocked 21.9 MPG on a combination of city streets, highways and rural country roads, just a shade under the EPA estimate of 23 MPG combined.
Maxda CX-9 Features to Love
A high-tech feature I loved is the adaptive high beams.
Forget clicking your brights on and off.
On-board sensors, like the ones that notify you if you are getting too close to the car ahead, including in a parking lot, automatically dim the lights when there’s a vehicle approaching on a dark road.
Automatic also means when you enter an area with street lights or neon signs and don’t need brights.
Another safety and convenience two-fer easy to love is the automatic feature that tucks in the sideview mirrors automatically when you lock the car.
Even in more expensive vehicles, you have to do that manually on the sideview control panel before you turn off the vehicle.
A friend who was parking his late model Toyota Rav-4 next to my CX-9 one day, watched wide-eyed and called it “mirror envy”. Score one for Mazda!
I was also impressed with the heads-up display.
Unlike those from many other manufacturers, the Mazda version adds a box that shows the speed limit of the moment alongside your actual speed.
The two numbers are side-by-side in your field of vision, so there’s no need to look at road signs or the speedometer.
I also loved the lane departure warning in the heads-up.
Normally, there are just two parallel lines, but if you drift out of one, it starts blinking in the display, including if you change lanes deliberately without using your turn signal.
Yes, Daddy, my driving teacher so many years ago, I’ll be a good girl and always use my turn signal, so you or the electronics don’t yell at me.
The heads-up system also shows an icon, on the left or right of the lane markings, indicating an approaching vehicle in your blind spot.
That’s another two-fer, since the alert also shows in the side view mirrors.
Safety and Power
All reasons the 2020 Mazda CX-9 gets a top overall safety rating from IIHS – important to anybody considering a family hauler.
My test drive model, the top-of-the-line Signature, included such “creature features” as heated steering wheel and seats – leather, of course.
And its gutsy, turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine – standard in all trim levels – provided plenty of power when needed for entering a busy freeway, passing, or just muscling through crud.
The CX-9 offers more than 14 cubic feet of cargo space with all three rows upright. The second and third row seats fold easily for odd-size cargo like skis or golf clubs, to more than triple cargo space to nearly 72 cubic feet, roughly equivalent to the bed of an F-150.
Mazda CX-9 key competitors are Kia Telluride and sister Hyundai Pallisade, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse.
2020 Maxda CX-9 pricing starts at $33,790.
The top-of-the-line model I tested is $47,385.
Engine – 4-cylinder Turbo 2.5 Liter SKYACTIVE-G
Horsepower – 227hp
Transmission – SKYACTIV DRIVE 6-speed automatic
MPG – 23/City, 28 Highway
Towing capacity – 3,500 lbs
This is a great family hauler
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