I don't know if I really need a large SUV, but I feel I would like some of the luxury options that just aren't available in a smaller package, such as the power liftgate and blind spot monitoring system that are available in the Mazda CX-9. My questions are, 1) Is the Mazda CX-9 considered a gas-guzzler, or is it at the top of its segment? 2) I have had Hondas forever; is the Mazda CX-9 that much worse for reliability? I thought that the Pilot is too plain and square, so I am not thinking about that one, just like my current 2005 CR-V, which too is quite plain, but is very, very reliable.
The CX-9 does come with a power liftgate and a blind spot monitoring system. Those features are only available on higher-end CX-9 trim levels, however, with the blind spot monitoring system a $200 option on Grand Touring trims ($33,355). The power liftgate is part of a $2,500 package that also includes a DVD navigation system and rearview camera on Touring ($31,615) and Grand Touring trims. The 2009 Pilot only has a power liftgate on its Touring trim ($36,795), and there is no blind spot detection as of now.
In the land of large, three-row crossover SUVs, the CX-9 ranks a little less fuel-efficient — by about 1 mpg — than the rest of the crowd, with ratings of 16/22 mpg city/highway for front-wheel-drive models and 15/21 for all-wheel-drive models. See below for a rundown of competitors’ fuel economy.
We like the CX-9 because it’s still sporty for being a large family-hauler, and there’s lots of cargo room with all three rows folded. The CX-9 was voted our 2008 Family Car of the Year in our most recent Lifestyle awards, and the Mazda crossover outgunned the GMC Acadia and Hyundai Veracruz in a three-row crossover SUV Faceoff.
As far as reliability, we’ve seen mixed reports from consumer groups like J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports. The results are not comparable with each other because of testing differences, but J.D. Power gives the CX-9’s predicted reliability a 4.5 out of 5, while Consumer Reports ranks the SUV as Fair, which is the second-lowest rating out of five possible rankings.
Here’s what you need to consider with these reports: They are based on 2007 data, which was the CX-9’s first model year. The 2008 CX-9 has a different engine, which could affect reliability one way or another because the reports available are predicted reliability ratings based on 2007 data. Basically, if reliability is a large determining factor, look at the Honda because it’s been on its game for a long time and consistently scores well in automaker reliability rankings. The 2009 Pilot just recently hit the roads, though, so there isn’t any reliability information available on that specific model.
Fuel Economy (MPG, City/Highway): Front-Wheel Drive — All-Wheel Drive
2008 Mazda CX-9: 16/22 — 15/21
2009 Honda Pilot: 17/23 — 16/22
2008 GMC Acadia: 16/24 —16/22
2008 Ford Taurus X: 16/24 — 15/22
2008 Hyundai Veracruz:16/23 — 15/22
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