Mazda CX-9 Signature. Photo courtesy of Mazda

This week I'm driving the 2019 Mazda CX-9, the largest vehicle in Mazda's lineup.

The big picture: I've always been a Mazda fan. Their cars are stylish, fun to drive and generally offer great gas mileage.

Details: The CX-9 Signature, which is their $45,365 top-of-the-line model, feels like a luxury car, with heated and cooled Nappa leather upholstery, rosewood trim and LED accent lighting.

  • It features a 250-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that gets 23 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
  • As with other Mazdas, the CX-9's ride and handling set it apart from the competition, hugging the road on tight curves instead of that tippy feeling you get in most 3-row SUVs.
  • The CX-9 has a superb head-up display and offers a full suite of active safety features, including blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist as well as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability in traffic.

The downside: If you've got a big family, the CX-9 isn't as roomy as other 3-row crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas or Kia Telluride.

  • And while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, you still have to use Mazda's center console knob to control the screen while driving. It's a safety decision, I know — touchscreens are incredibly distracting while driving — but it's still annoying.

The bottom line: The Mazda CX-9, starting at $32,280, is a family car you'll enjoy driving.

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