New & Used Mazda CX-9: In Depth
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The Mazda CX-9 is a family-friendly crossover that has sportier driving dynamics and a more attractive design than many of its competitors. It’s one of the few remaining crossovers that has sporty driving feel and a usable third row.
For more information on the current model, including pricing with options, see our full review of the 2014 Mazda CX-9.
The Mazda CX-9 was launched as a 2007 model, and received a substantial update for 2013 to make the big family utility vehicle's line's more similar to those of the compact CX-5 crossover. That significant 2013 refresh gave the CX-9 new front and rear styling, as well as new interior appointments, all influenced by the automaker's Kodo design language pioneered by the smaller CX-5. The 2013 CX-9 also includes significant upgrades to audio and navigation, as well as new active safety features (Forward Obstruction Warning System, Lane Departure Warning System, and High Beam Control System).
The CX-9 retains V-6 power and its size and capabilities now neatly complement the CX-5--which itself wins rave reviews for being both practical and fun to drive--for families who need more space but don't want to give up driving pleasure. The underpinnings of the CX-9 are related to those of the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, but Mazda has produced a very different look and a far sportier driving feel than either of those models.
In appearance, the Mazda CX-9 is curvier, with more aggressive sheetmetal and flared fenders, than its siblings under the skin. But it maintains an overall look that makes no allusions to off-roading. Its strong, 273-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 feels more powerful than most engines in its class, and it's paired with a six-speed automatic that does a great job on quick downshifts when needed. Buyers can opt for front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Rated towing capacity is up to 3,500 pounds.
Fuel economy is a low point for the CX-9; EPA city ratings are 17 mpg city, but drivers will routinely see worse. The first 2007 models of the CX-7 had a slightly less powerful 263-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, but it did the job nearly as well. Handling, while not on par with low German sport wagons, is crisper and more responsive, as well, compared to most vehicles of its size and weight (and height).
With three rows of seating and a third row that folds flat easily for cargo duty, the CX-9 has an especially handy layout for larger families, or for those who occasionally need some extra spots for the kids’ team members. The second and third rows can be folded flat together to open up 101 cubic feet. First and second rows have plenty of space for adults, even for long trips, while the CX-9’s interior appointments, overall, do not disappoint.
We have noted exceptionally good build quality in several test vehicles. While a list of standard safety features, and options such as a blind-spot monitoring system and rear backup camera are other compelling reasons for families to consider the CX-9, its IIHS roof-strength score of 'marginal' for 2011 and 2012 is one point of concern.
A loaded Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring will carry a sticker price north of $40,000, which brings it into competition with several other luxury-brand models, including entry-level German makes. But the Grand Touring comes with some tempting features, including HID headlamps, nice leather seating, and rain-sensing wipers. Top options include a DVD entertainment system, a nav system with real-time traffic, and a Bose Centerpoint surround-sound system.