Safety

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the CX-9 earned the top score, Good, in frontal and side-impact tests. It hasn't been tested for rear impacts or for roof strength, an indicator of rollover protection. The CX-9 isn't alone with its good scores; the IIHS Midsize SUV class into which it falls is packed with high-scoring models.

The CX-9 has two airbags in front, and front occupants get seat-mounted side-impact airbags and active head restraints. Side curtain airbags protect all three rows of seats in a side impact and are also designed to deploy in the event of a rollover. Also standard are antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. The CX-9's stability system is supplemented by Roll Stability Control, a feature developed by Volvo and later incorporated into then-parent-company Ford's family of SUVs. It's the only system that senses when a rollover has begun and employs the stability system in an attempt to forestall it. Similarly described features on other cars act only in conditions that can lead to a rollover.

A blind spot warning system is standard on the Grand Touring but not offered on lower trim levels. A backup camera comes with the navigation system that's optional on the Grand Touring. You can get a backup camera without navigation on both this model and the Touring trim, but unfortunately it's packaged with other features. To see all the CX-9's safety features, click here.

The cargo area is accommodating, but there are a few quirks. The liftgate should raise higher to ensure noggin clearance. Also, there's no provision to cover the gap between the folded second and third rows, as there is in some cars with sliding second rows. The greater shortcoming, though, is that the second row's upholstery wraps over the top of the backrest and extends a quarter of the way down the back. As a result, when you fold the seat down, a segment of your cargo floor is leather rather than carpet. It's easily damaged.

As equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 2,000 pounds. With the Towing Prep option package, the maximum increases to 3,500 pounds, which is average. When properly equipped, the Flex can tow 4,500 pounds, and the Traverse is good for 5,200 pounds.

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