Drive a CX-9, we dare you!

If you listen to our OCN Drives Podcast, then you know we're not huge fans of crossover-type vehicles. Often times, they're not really as capable off-road as a traditional body-on-frame SUV nor are they as athletic or as efficient as a wagon. However, there is one exception to the rule—the Mazda CX-9.

The Mazda CX-9 is so good, you feel like you're driving a sports sedan, and I can't wrap my brain around it. 

It all starts with the seats. Comfortable, but bolstered on the sides, the CX-9 hugs you like a high-end driving machine. Then you start it up, shift it into drive, and nothing else matters. The CX-9's turbocharged 2.5L SKYACTIV engine produces 310 lb-ft of usable torque, making it feel downright quick off the line. Next, the steering. It's weighted like a sports sedan, and it receives driver inputs with grace. 

As for the handling? You'd never believe you're driving a 7-passenger, 3-row vehicle that weighs 4,383 lbs (AWD). In the two roundabouts I flung the CX-9 through, I noticed some body roll, but overall the Mazda held its composure like 007 in a high-stakes poker match.

In fact, I'd like to properly flog one on a track just to see what it's like at the limit. Now that's something I thought I'd never say about a crossover (short of a Porsche Cayenne GTS or Lamborghini Urus). 

In the end, the CX-9 only really comes up short in a few forgivable areas. First, the ride is a bit stiffer than the competition but it still definitely classifies as "luxurious". Next, the Mazda's good looks cost it a bit of interior room, but it's only noticeable if you actually measure or read spec sheets. And lastly, I didn't like the feel of the shifter or the infotainment control turn dial—but bury your right foot and you'll soon forget about it. 

Starting at $32,280, the IIHS Top Safety Pick Mazda CX-9 isn't just smart in terms of price and driver tech, but driving feel. I highly recommend you drive one, you'll never be the same. 

What are your thoughts? Do you have a CX-9? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!