New & Used Mazda CX-9: In Depth
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The Mazda CX-9 is one of just a few truly family-sized large crossovers that have both sportier driving dynamics and a usable third row. It's also been one that carries a design and style that's a little edgier than the crossover norm -- especially when it was originally introduced.
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.
Because of its relatively old powertrain, the CX-9 doesn't do that well when it comes to fuel economy. It's rated at just 17 mpg in the EPA's city test. The engine is at least up to the task of moving the crossover around, and that was even the case of 2007 models, which used a 263-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The CX-9 handles very well for something of its size, striking a nice balance between driver control and comfort.
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' in recent model years 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.