2008 Mazda CX-9 Review

Making a great thing even better is a wonderful thing indeed -- like adding Al Pacino to the Ocean's 11 cast or plugging Alex Rodriguez into the Yankees lineup. After only one year in production, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 can now be included on that "great things made better" list along with Al, A-Rod and Diet Coke with lemon.

2008 Mazda CX-9 -12008 Mazda CX-9 -2Last year's CX-9 featured a 263-hp, 3.5-liter V6 that we described as having "strong pull through the midrange, as well as impressive smoothness and a sporty sound when the whip is cracked." It also brought the CX-9 from zero to 60 mph in a tidy 7.7 seconds, which was very quick for its class. In other words, this was an engine that didn't need to be replaced. Mazda did it anyway. The 2008 CX-9 features a bored-out version of the "old" engine shared with the Ford Edge and other Ford family products, resulting in a 3.7-liter displacement, 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The new engine, and its transmission, is also now built in Japan rather than in the United States.

Aside from its engine, the CX-9 remains the same. It still boasts a very spacious interior, including a third-row seat that is legitimately habitable for adults, with relatively easy ingress and egress made possible by a fold-and-slide second row. That interior is also elegantly tailored in any of the three trim levels, with an attractive dash design, high feature content and excellent materials. Best of all, the CX-9 sets itself apart with superb handling that makes this 4,500-pound sport-utility feel like a much smaller vehicle. Just because this is the largest vehicle Mazda has ever produced doesn't mean it lacks that zoom-zoom attitude.

The seven-passenger midsize crossover segment is expanding faster than Donald Trump's ego. An all-new Toyota Highlander and forthcoming all-new Honda Pilot should make things harder for the 2008 Mazda CX-9, which already has been greeted with three formidable opponents from GM's Buick, GMC and Saturn divisions. Yet this Mazda's ability to meld real utility, sharp good looks, excellent quality and a fun-to-drive personality make it a very tough package to beat.

© Source: edmunds
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