The Mazda CX-9 is a mid-size crossover that thinks it’s a sports sedan. What do you need to know before you buy a Mazda CX-9? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

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While current generation CX-9 has been around for a long time, it is certainly worth a look for buyers that need a family friendly vehicle and want something a little different than the default minivan avoidance crossovers. Like all the other offerings across Mazda’s lineup, the brand has attempted to infuse some fun into a segment that traditionally doesn’t cater to folks that care about driving.

Despite its size, the CX-9 doesn’t drive like a truck. Mazda applied some kind of witchcraft with suspension tuning and steering feel so you get a three-row crossover that has a bit of confidence in the turns. It’s not going to handle like a Miata, but is significantly more engaging than a Pilot or Highlander. The CX-9’s 273 horsepower V-6 has plenty of punch for everyday use and for folks that bemoan the takeover of CVTs, the Mazda’s motor is paired to very good 6-speed automatic.

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As a practical choice, CX-9 has plenty of cargo area that is on par with other crossovers in the segment, but also boasts surprising amount legroom for 3rd row passengers. Unfortunately, CX-9 is a crossover that gets lost in the crowd, but that means dealers are willing offer some nice discounts to move units. If you are at the point in your life where your Miata or Mazda3 is no longer practical, the CX-9 will give you the Mazda magic you love in a larger package.

What’s New About The 2015 Mazda CX-9

The current Mazda CX-9 is old. Really old. So old, in fact, that it’s received not one, but two facelifts since its debut all the way back at the 2006 New York Auto Show.

That 2007 car, equipped with a 263 horsepower 3.5-liter V6, sat on a completely unique platform that Mazda said “was designed from the outset to be a three-row vehicle, meaning there are no compromises in seating seven passengers,” and promised sporty handling, something largely lacking in the seven-passenger SUV category.

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The following year, Mazda upped the displacement of their V6 mill to 3.7-liters, which added 10 horsepower and 21 lb-ft of torque for a total of 273 and 270, respectively. In addition, the 2008 CX-9 got a blind spot monitoring system.

Offered in Sport, Touring or Grand Touring trims, the 2009 CX-9 made some tweaks to standard and optional content, with a trip computer and Bluetooth becoming standard on the base trim, and the addition of satellite radio, heated seats, heated outside mirrors and auto-dimming mirror to certain option packages.

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Mazda gave their family hauler a facelift for 2010, including a new grille and new headlights and taillights. The interior also go revamped, with new cloth and leather seats, unique interior trim, and center console.

The big crossover remained relatively unchanged until 2013, when it received yet another facelift, with a front and rear fascia design inspired by Mazda’s KODO design language which they say “exudes aggression and grace, energy and poise, strength and elegance.” The ‘13 CX-9 also got a new 5.8-inch display and infotainment features like HD Radio, Pandora and audio message receipt and delivery, which will read your text messages.

Mazda made few changes to the CX-9 after 2013, though in 2016 an all-new model is nearly ready for showrooms.

What’s New About The 2016 Mazda CX-9

Mazda debuted their new 2016 CX-9 at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, though we showed you a glimpse a little early. The new CX-9, which is an entirely new platform and is styled around Mazda’s “KODO—Soul of Motion” design language, gets an all new look that’s more in line with Mazda’s 6, CX-5 and the rest of the lineup.

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The big news, though, is the new engine, which is a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four making 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That engine comes bolted to a six-speed auto, and Mazda says it will be more responsive, more efficient (no fuel economy numbers available, yet) and offer better acceleration.

The engine moves a body that’s 198 pounds lighter than the first-gen car.. That, coupled with aerodynamic and driveline efficiency improvements mean that ““at 55 mph (88 km/h), a driver needs just 18 horsepower to maintain speed on flat roads—a four-horsepower reduction versus the outgoing model.”

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The overall size of the car is similar to the outgoing car, sitting about 1.2-inches shorter, but with a 2.2-inch longer wheelbase for better rear legroom.

The infotainment system got some tweaks and now comes with a standard seven-inch monitor and optional eight-incher.

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And then, of course, because driver’s assist features are all the rage these days, the CX-9 gets Radar Cruise Control, Lane-Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control, Smart City Brake Support, Distance Recognition Support System and Forward Obstruction Warning.

Which One We’d Buy

The current Mazda CX-9 comes in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, all of which get front-wheel drive, the same 273 horsepower 3.7-liter V6, six-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive ($1,590).

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Steering on all 2015 CX-9s is hydraulic, suspension is MacPherson Strut up front and Multi-Link out rear, and brakes are 12.6-inch rotors in the front clamped by two-piston calipers and 12.8-inchers in the back grabbed by single piston calipers.

The base $29,985 Sport model gets standard features like power mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, six-speaker audio system, 5.8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth and HD radio.

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For an extra $2,495, you step up to the Touring model, which ads heated front seats, heated mirrors, auto-off headlights, leather-trimmed seats, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, four-way power passenger seat, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rearview backup camera and rear backup sensors.

The Grand Touring tops out at $35,035 and adds bi-xenon HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, mirror memory function, bigger wheels, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror and unique interior accents.

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If we didn’t want to wait for next year’s new CX-9 and wanted to score a killer deal on the current generation, we’d probably grab the Touring model for $34,950 with destination. Not only is it well equipped, but it carries seven passengers and who knows how cheap it will be after incentives as dealers try to clear their lots for the next model.

[Build Your Own Mazda CX-9]

Important Facts At A Glance (2015):

MSRP: $29,985-35,035 [Sport-Grand Touring]

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Top Speed: 119 MPH

Acceleration: 8sd to 60 (estimated)

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MPG: 16-17 city / 22-24 hwy / 19-20 combined [AWD-FWD]

Engines: 3.7-liter V6

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Horsepower: 273 hp

Torque: 270 lb-ft

Max Advertised Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds

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Curb Weight: 4,323-4,559 [FWD-AWD]

IIHS Safety Rating: Not A Top Safety Pick

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Transmissions: six-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD/AWD

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Photo credit: Mazda