On the Road

Even with its 20-inch wheels, our Grand Touring rode reasonably comfortably, but it's a bit firmer than some. With that firmness comes pretty entertaining handling, with precise steering and a good feel to the wheel. While I'd characterize the CX-9 as one of the sportier three-row crossovers out there, don't get the impression that it's a sport wagon. It's large, and opportunities to drive it in a spirited fashion seldom present themselves.

The CX-9's acceleration truly surprises, especially in a Grand Touring weighed down with all-wheel drive and lots of features. Teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, the 3.7-liter V-6 has plenty of power: 273 horsepower and, perhaps more important, 270 pounds-feet of torque, which gives it an urgent launch from a standing start.

On slick surfaces, I noticed some initial front-wheel slip before the traction control kicked in and the rear wheels played their part. Some all-wheel-drive systems are more seamless. In the practical sense, this quirk is of no consequence to most drivers.

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