Almost forgotten by car buyers, the Mazda CX-9 provides a pleasant three-row SUV alternative. Agile handling that masks its size is a nice surprise, as a run down a twisty back road will attest. The ride is firm and steady, proving comfortable on a variety of roads and the quiet cabin contributes to a calm cruise. The well-finished and functional interior accommodates seven, and even the third-row seat is hospitable compared to most other crossovers. Reliability is above average for this long-running design.
Having been introduced back in 2007, with only minor updates since, the CX-9 is showing its age. There's ample power from the smooth and refined 3.7-liter V6, but its thirsty 16 mpg overall only matches much-larger modern-day leviathans like the Chevrolet Suburban. Most midsized rivals get three to five mpg better. Newer designs also trump the CX-9 in the IIHS small-overlap crash test; the CX-9's Poor performance makes it ineligible for our formal recommendation.