The car-based, three-row CX-9 looks like a longer version of the CX-7 but is much nicer.
Overall, it is a bit of a hidden gem.
Based on a stretched version of the platform of the Ford Edge, the Mazda is quieter, more agile, and has a nicer interior with attractive trim.
The third-row seat is small but relatively easy to access.
Handling is taut and agile, plus the ride is firm and steady, yet comfortable.
Braking distances are a bit long though.
The 60/40-split second-row seats slide fore and aft for greater second- or third-row legroom.
The CX-9 initially used Ford's punchy, 3.5-liter V6 engine, but it got a smoother, more refined 3.7-liter V6 in 2008.
Neither engine is particularly fuel-efficient.
The optional blind-spot warning system works well, but the CX-9 performed poorly when tested in the IIHS small-overlap crash test.
The CX-9 soldered on for many years without a redesign, making later model years feel comparatively dated next to the competition.