NEW FOR 2009:

– lower pricing
– GS adds trip computer, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirror, garage door opener and CD player with MP3 capability
– GT adds Intelligent Key System (keyless entry and start)
– Luxury Package adds Sirius satellite radio
– Navigation Option adds Bluetooth with Audio Profile
– Exterior colours: Aluminum Metallic added; Galaxy Grey Mica and Liquid Platinum Metallic discontinued

An all-new model in 2007, the CX-9 adds only some changes to its list of standard and optional items for 2009, along with base prices that drop from the 2008 levels. The new Bluetooth with Audio Profile provides the ability for a cell phone play list to be transferred to the vehicle’s stereo.

Although its styling resembles that of the CX-7, it is not a stretched version of it; the CX-9 uses a Mazda6-derived platform that it shares with the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. All CX-9 models have three rows of seats, including a 60/40 split-folding second row that slides 12 cm fore and aft and also reclines, and a 50/50 third row that is easily accessed. Both rows fold flat for cargo storage.

Offered as the GS and GT, the CX-9 uses a 3.7-litre V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Optional on the GS and standard on the GT is an active torque split all-wheel drive system, which runs in front-wheel drive under most circumstances but transfers power to the rear wheels when needed.

Features on the GS include 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone front and rear air conditioning, towing package, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, tilt and telescopic wheel with audio controls, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, heated mirrors, eight-way power driver’s seat, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, exterior temperature gauge, electroluminescent gauges, front and rear stabilizer bars, roof spoiler, privacy glass, heated seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, garage door opener and trip computer.

The GT adds 20-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlamps, fog lights, power sunroof, leather-trimmed upholstery, four-way power passenger seat, power driver lumbar support, driver’s side memory, second-row armrest with storage box, wood interior accents, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, blue indirect lighting and Intelligent Key System.

The GS can be optioned with a power sunroof, while packages on the GT include a Luxury Package of six-CD Bose stereo system, power tailgate, blind spot monitoring system and Sirius satellite radio; a Navigation System with touch-screen system, Bluetooth and rearview camera; and a Rear Entertainment System, which deletes the sunroof.

Nicely styled, the CX-9 is an excellent performer with its strong, smooth engine and razor-sharp handling. The ride is firm but comfortable, and while the third row is suitable for adults on short trips, the first and second rows are very roomy. Prices fall from the 2008 levels.

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