Story & Snaps: Amee Reehal©
Back in the day, the choice for the ultimate family vehicle was simple: minivan. And before then, it was the station wagon. But in today’s market, the choices and product lines catering the family market have become increasingly staggering—where minivans are no longer in vogue and wagons are more like sport sedans; where gas-guzzling SUVs have made way for the more acceptable Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV), and the Crossover is either full-size or compact. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with choices, and seeing as the auto manufacturers are simply keeping up with the ever-changing definition of the “family institution” in today’s society, you can’t really blame them. However, the choices remain daunting and today’s MiniVan/Full-Size CUV Dad is faced with some hard decisions…compared to his dad, anyhow.
At the end of the day, the common denominator for the people-mover is always the same: a comfortable vehicle with abundant cargo and cabin space, loads of standard convenience and safety features alongside affordable options, decent performance and handling with excellent fuel-efficiency, all offered with great styling and design. If you’re in this market, the 2010 Mazda CX-9 full-size CUV will certainly fit the bill.
Available in two models, the GS trim with either FWD or AWD, starting at $37,995 CDN MSRP and $39,995, respectively (before taxes/charges), or the more sportier GT with AWD only (as tested), starting at $47,450, standard features with both versions include front active head restraints, heated front seats with high & low function, a bright finish on the interior door handles, a rear A/C display, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Add to the entry-level GS, the active torque split All-Wheel drive system for $2,000, followed by the optional $2,395 Luxury Package offering power moonroof with one-touch open and close feature, leather trimmed upholstery, 4-way adjustable power front passenger’s seat, and power driver lumbar support. The GT trim finds additional standards including a 10-speaker premium BOSE audio system with 6 CD/MP3 changer and SIRIUS satellite radio, the very handy Blind Spot Monitoring system (indicates with sound and small LED on side mirrors when nearby vehicle is in your blind spot; especially useful when changing lanes), a rearview camera, an audio display screen, and Bluetooth with AudioProfile, to name a few.
Inside, the cabin is very spacious and the overall design from the driver’s seat is super simple yet functional with touches of high-quality wood trim. The centre console looks fairly basic and very straightforward with temperature controls placed below (dual control for driver/passenger) and the 7-inch navigation screen and controls up top (this GT version included the Navigation Package upgrade at $2,675; not including the Rear Entertainment System for an extra $1,520...coming in at $4200 total, your passengers better appreciate it!). In the cockpit, the leather wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel feels comfortable while the instrument panel looks smart and is easy to read. The centre armrest storage finds a unique dual-lid design, split down the middle north-to-south with each door hinged on the driver/passenger side, opening up like a book. At first, this seemed a bit awkward but later proved convenient providing driver with armrest while still allowing passenger access to storage with auxiliary input and 12 volt. Second-row seating provides ample room and the rear independent temperature control is a welcome feature. Access to the third-row is painless via the second-row folding seats and the space in the back row is remarkably generous, but probably best suited for children (the mini-sized cup holders would attest to this). Its worth noting that if you do plan on stuffing adults back there, legroom may be expectedly compromised, the headroom is not at all—the long, non-bulbous rear design of the CX-9 (opposed to many other CUVs on the market), allows for this extra space. The hefty 2,062kg AWD CUV also offers loads of cargo space with a respectable 487L with all seats upright and a vast 2,851L when the 50/50-split third-row and 60/40-split second-row seats are all folded down.