For starters, the 5.8-inch screen is very small, making for even smaller buttons on the panel. The response time is also slow — some buttons required two or three pushes to register. The biggest problem is the number of steps for certain tasks. You have to make your way through three screens to input an address, for example, and figuring out how to cancel route guidance took a couple of minutes and lots of muttering. Although the Traverse's 6.5-inch screen isn't much bigger than this one, its navigation system is much more logical and reactive. Once you've finally gotten all the numbers and letters in the system (whew!), it's a great navigator, delivering extremely precise and detailed directions. It registered my driveway and told me even before I left it how many turns it would take to get out of my subdivision. Most navigation systems don't register private roads.
Passengers & Cargo
Although the CX-9 drives small, the interior feels pretty roomy. By the numbers, though, it doesn't look it. The other three crossovers offer slightly more head- and legroom up front (with the exception of the Explorer, which has slightly less legroom), though I had plenty of both and enjoyed the heavily bolstered seats. They're pretty firm but also snugly supportive — larger occupants might feel constrained and need wider seats. Cloth seats are standard on base Sport models, while leather comes on Touring and Grand Touring trims.
I found ample room in the second row, too, though two taller editors complained that they didn't. With 39 inches of headroom, the CX-9 again trails the Explorer (40.5), Pilot (39.8) and Traverse (39.4).
The second-row seat slides and reclines for comfort and folds fairly flat for cargo. To get to the third row, the seat can be easily moved with one hand. The resulting opening is pretty narrow, however, thanks to a protruding wheel hub, and has a high step-in height.
Once in the third row, space is pinched and the seat itself is pretty uncomfortable. The bench is set low to the ground, requiring an awkward knees-up seating position, and the cushion is much firmer and thinner than the other seats. Add small, high windows to the mix, and the third row feels like a cave.
Folding the third row, however, is another easy maneuver; it's a two-step process, up or down. When it's raised, the CX-9 has just 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space, well shy of the Explorer (21), Pilot (18) and Traverse (24.4). With both rows of seats down, the Traverse wins again with an impressive 116.3 cubic feet of space, compared with the CX-9's 100.7 cubic feet.
Small-item storage in the front row also isn't great: Both the center console and the glove compartment are small for this class. It gets better as you go back, however. In the second row, there are two door pockets for bottles, two cupholders and two seatback pockets. In the third row, there are two cupholders on each side. Behind the third row, there are two shallow under-floor storage areas — one that's pretty tiny and a larger one that extends nearly the width of the vehicle.