2008 Mazda CX-9


$5,000 - $5,941

2008 Mazda CX-9 Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2008 Mazda CX-9 was new.


Interior: 7.8

According to the Detroit News, "A recent trip through the back roads near Chelsea showcased Mazda's evolution from zoom-zoom to more room-room." But mixed feelings concerning in-cabin stowage and third-row seating hurt the CX-9's interior score.


Reviewers are generally pleased with the CX-9's cabin, which features seating for seven in three rows. Autobytel notes the "refined and well-bolstered seats" as a favorite interior highlight. In the front seat, Consumer Guide notes occupants have "ample leg room" and "Chair-height seating provides [a] commanding view forward and to the side." Road and Track also says "The front seats are very comfortable and envelop the torso gingerly rather than too tightly." New Car Test Drive says "At 6 feet 4 inches, I could be comfortable in the driver's seat, then move back to the second row and find enough legroom."

Autobytel lavishes praise upon the second row, commenting "passengers are treated like royalty in the CX-9. The split bench is soft and comfortable, there are copious amounts of head and foot room, and the sills and armrests are padded. Three large, adjustable head restraints are provided, as are rear climate controls and two cup holders in the fold-down center armrest." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the second row is "nearly as good" as the front seats" in outboard positions, but "the center passenger gets a hard cushion."

Reviewers have mixed opinions on the CX-9's third row. Edmunds notes it "can hold actual adults," but AutoWeek comments that "legroom is tight in the third row, yet is sufficient enough for young children or passengers who don't mind being cramped." AutoWeek continues, "This ideally would be a vehicle for families that only occasionally carry seven, but not for those that do so often." Of the back seats themselves, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says they're "flat but adequate."

Getting to the third row is easy thanks to a wide door opening and a sliding second row that moves forward or backward almost five inches. New Car Test Drive explains "To get to the third row one grabs a handle built into the top of the second-row seats and pulls. That releases the seat and slides it forward. The opening is smallish, in part because the wheel arch intrudes. But with a wiggle and a twist an adult can reach the third row without a severe loss of dignity."

Interior Features

Reviewers are impressed with the CX-9's well-appointed cockpit. 4x4 Review says "the driver is greeted by a neatly organized combination of cylindrical shapes and blacked-out instruments on a T-shaped instrument panel." While Detroit News asserts that "the interior's long sweeping design flows seamlessly through the three rows of the vehicle," AutoWeek concludes, "The interior is comfortable and features higher-quality plastics than you'll find in an Edge."

However, interior noise is a major complaint for several reviewers. Autobytel states "From wind noise to tire and road noise, the CX-9 is far from the quietest offering in the growing large crossover segment. Part of our dissatisfaction was due to the concrete highways we suffer with in Southern California, but even on smooth pavement we found ourselves raising the decibels for normal conversation."

On the plus side, Edmunds notes the CX-9 Sport base model "is as basic as you can get in the CX-9 lineup yet comes with a full allotment of standard features." These features include air conditioning with automatic climate control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power windows and door locks, adjustable headrests for all positions, cloth front bucket seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, silver interior door handles, an AM/FM radio with CD and six speakers, and piano black interior trim.

The Touring adds Bluetooth hands-free operation, an 8-way adjustable power driver's seat with power lumbar support, heated front seats, a 4-way adjustable power front passenger seat, leather-trimmed seats in the first and second rows, and stitched vinyl door panels. The Grand Touring adds silver center console trim, a Smart Card key, an 8-way adjustable power driver's seat with power lumbar support and three position memory, and silver and wood pattern interior trim.

Both the Touring and Grand Touring trims offer a DVD-navigation system with voice command and a seven-inch touchscreen. While very few portable devices have screens larger than 4.5 inches, there are some great GPS units with comparable features to Mazda's in-dash option -- features like voice command, Bluetooth connectivity and even real-time traffic. Check out our GPS reviews to learn more about what's offered.


The 2008 CX-9 provides 17.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity with all three rows of seats in use. However, the 50/50-split third row folds completely flat to create 48.4 cubic feet of space, and the 60/40-split second row folds nearly flat to make 100.7 cubic feet. Reviewers like Motor Trend complain that, while the 17.5 cubic feet is "actually good relative to the competition," the available space is "tall and thin, like a trunk set on edge." New Car Test Drive notes that the cargo capacity "gives the CX-9 a significant advantage over competitors such as the Toyota Highlander, which has 10.5 cubic feet behind its third row and about two inches less legroom."

Though cargo space is adequate, reviewers aren't impressed with cabin storage. Edmunds says "When it comes to interior storage, the CX-9 isn't lacking, but it isn't exceptional. We wished the center console had the deep storage compartment that you get in the smaller CX-7." Autobytel similarly notes "Every hit has a miss or two, and for the CX-9 that'd be interior storage." Interior storage includes a large center armrest cubby with an outlet, a rubber-lined slot below the instrument panel, a small slot by the driver's knee, a decent-size glovebox, a map pocket on the back of the driver's seat, and four small cup holders for the third row -- but "that's not a lot of storage space in a seven-passenger rig," Autobytel concludes. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes "a noticeable paucity of cup holders" -- especially for seven people.

Another complaint is the relatively low tailgate, which made quite a negative impression on New Car Test Drive: "One thing the freakishly tall (6-foot 4-inch, in my case) will quickly learn is that the tailgate when open does not have a 6-foot 4-inch clearance," the review reads. "There is nothing like a good rap on the forehead to brighten the day."

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