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The three-row crossover is now the go to choice for families that need to haul around kids and groceries, but generally most of them drive more like a higher riding minivan, which makes them quite boring if you like to have a little fun behind the wheel. Luckily Mazda, the “Zoom-Zoom” brand offers the CX-9, which is one of the sportiest three-row crossovers you can buy. Not only is it more fun to drive than you’d expect, but it’s stylish exterior stands out in the crowded segment.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

Starting with the outside, the Mazda CX-9 is a beautiful crossover that tries to hide its family duties. The long hood and sculpted lines give it a more luxurious feel that looks classy and timeless. Inside the CX-9 feels like it could easily have a luxury badge on the steering wheel with its high quality materials, comfy seats and clean dashboard design.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

For the 2019 model year, the CX-9 received some small upgrades, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available ventilated seats, a 360-degree camera and real wood trim if you choose the Signature trim.

Under the hood, the Mazda CX-9 is only available with one engine, a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder that generates up to 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is optional. The front-wheel drive CX-9 is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel drive version is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

While many of its rivals have V6 engines under the hood, the CX-9 doesn’t need it. The turbocharged engine spools up quickly and packs a good punch. Even with every seat in the house filled, the CX-9 never feels underpowered. You can easily describe the CX-9 as an athletic family hauler for a driver that actually likes to drive. The suspension is also firmer than its other three-row rivals, which keeps body roll to a minimum, but at the same time it doesn’t punish you if the road gets a bit bumpy. The only thing we wished for was more feedback from the steering, which is a bit light.

2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

The CX-9’s interior is such a pleasant place to be. It’s quiet, the seats are comfortable and supportive and the real wood trim on our CX-9 Signature was a nice touch. There were a few small negatives though. For starters the CX-9’s interior space is a bit smaller than some of its rivals. The Honda Pilot offers more headroom in all three seats and more legroom in the third row. Behind the third row there isn’t much space for cargo either and we also wish second-row Captain’s Chairs were available. Lastly the updated infotainment system does offer more features than before, but it’s quite slow to power up and operating it via a dial takes a little to get used to.

The 2019 Mazda CX-9’s combination of style, luxury features and its athletic driving experience make it the easy choice for any buyer that needs three-rows of seats, but still wants to Enjoy the Drive.

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is offered in four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. The pricing starts at $32,280.