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Old 04-28-2007, 01:00 PM
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Arrow Mazda CX9 offers conveniences with fun factor

Today's crossover utility vehicles may have had a previous life as a van, but now the roof is lower, the styling is great and the factory puts enough equipment in to put a five-year-old luxury car to shame.

Take the new Mazda CX9 for example. You can order this vehicle with either front- or all-wheel drive an in two different trim levels. The toughest part of the option list is deciding if you want a sunroof or a rear seat entertainment system. You want heated front seats? They are there. You want 20-inch wheels? Standard equipment with the GT package. Bluetooth and voice activated navigation system? Just check off the right space on the order sheet and it will be there.

Mazda has put a few things into the car that don't show up on either the option sheet or the specifications for the vehicle. The ads call it "ZOOM ZOOM", but whatever it is, it makes the CX9 very un-van-like to drive. Think of it as more like a tall car. The front fascia and hood are a bit larger than some other Mazda products, but the resemblance is there. Body design follows in the footsteps of the Mazda 3 hatchback, except a bit larger. Mazda has even retained the large and wide opening rear doors rather than getting into sliding doors that shake and rattle causing all sorts of concerns. At the back, the rear hatch, except for its size, could have come from any Mazda hatchback.

It is this rear hatchback that caused me some concern. I didn't know it at the time, but my test vehicle was an early production one and the hatch only lifted up to slightly over 180 centimetres (six feet) and on my sloped driveway, I managed to bump my head a couple of times. My initial thoughts were for vertically challenged designers, but I did go to the dealership and check this out. If you order a power rear lift gate, no worries mate, lots of head room. Later manual lifts also have more space. Ironically, if I had parked properly on the driveway, this issue would never have come up.

Inside the CX9, front seat occupants get bucket seats while the second row riders get a split bench seat that really can fit three average people in comfort. The third row seat is a bit more cramped and is best used for kids or teens who really don't want to walk home. I did get into the back just to try it out and I found that if you are reasonably agile, there's no problem. I didn't even find it that uncomfortable for a ride across town. I'm just not sure that I would want to go to Winnipeg.

Luggage is often another thorny issue with vehicles that have a third row seat. The CX9 handles this issue a bit differently than some others. The third row seat is split and can fold its individual sections flat in to the floor. Best of all, there is some space behind the third row seat large enough to hold a few carry-on suitcases, $100 worth of groceries and a bottle of my favourite white wine.

Source: [url=http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/driving/story.html?id=22eaf24c-5e37-4921-a264-1850dabe351b]StarPhoenix[/url]
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