2017 Jaguar F-Pace vs. 2016 Mazda CX-9: Compare Cars

November 8, 2016

Just what, you may be asking yourself, are we thinking by comparing the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace and the 2016 Mazda CX-9? The Mazda, after all, is a turbo-4 three-row crossover from a brand that emphasizes affordable performance, while the supercharged V-6-powered F-Pace wouldn't be out of place creeping up a gravel driveway toward a luxury home in the Cotswolds.

Actually, they have a little more in common than you might expect, which is why we're putting them up against one another. One caveat is that we haven't been able to rate the CX-9 using our new scoring system, so for now this isn't a totally fair comparison. The F-Pace, for its part, scores a solid 8.0. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

MORE: Read our latest reviews of the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace and 2016 Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9 vs. Jaguar F-Pace

Mazda CX-9 vs. Jaguar F-Pace

Here's where these two crossovers begin to seem comparable. In terms of seating capacity, they're effectively on par with one another. The CX-9 does come with a third row of seats, but space back there is decidedly compromised. If you want to haul around adults, or even teenagers, the CX-9 isn't the crossover for you.

And then there's the price tag: While you can certainly buy a CX-9 for around 37,000, that's a front-wheel drive model. Step up to the Grand Touring and Signature trim levels, and your CX-9 is priced the same as a more modestly-equipped F-Pace. Sure, the Mazdas will have a few more features, but the price disparity isn't nearly as great as you might expect. For those who are financing or leasing, that may work out to only a few bucks a month separating the two. 
 
For its part, the Jaguar comes with a 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that also covers all scheduled maintenance.
 
Suddenly the divide isn't as big as you thought, right?
 
2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

 
Let's first have a look at the CX-9. This latest model is the follow-up to Mazda's original three-row crossover, which shared its platform and powertrain with the Ford Edge. Today's CX-9, however, is all-new, and under its hood sits not a V-6 but a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine. It's rated at 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, and it sends power to the front or all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic. 
 
Though we know that Mazda builds some of the most pure sporting cars to ever hit the road, the CX-9 represents something of a conundrum to us. Its engine never feels as powerful as its rating implies, despite a relatively lithe curb weight, while the crossover's ride quality is decidedly stiff. And there's something missing in its steering; oddly, we liked the setup in its predecessor even more, dated as that vehicle had become. 
 
The CX-9 Touring serves as the entry-level model, but unlike its more obvious rivals like the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander, the term "base model" doesn't really apply here. The Touring includes leather upholstery, a proximity key, rear cross traffic alert, a blind spot monitor, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Grand Touring adds about $4,000 worth of Bose audio, automatic emergency braking, navigation, and LED adaptive headlamps. Topping the line is the decadent, all-wheel drive-only Signature, which features Nappa leather and French stitching throughout the cabin, as well as open pore wood-looking trim. 
 
The CX-9's interior is a stunner, but it loses some points for practicality—and that's yet another reason why we don't automatically lump it in with its workaday family-oriented siblings. Between the front seats sits a tall console not designed with small item storage in mind, but instead to envelope the passengers as you might see in a sports car. Row two is a little more accommodating, but even it feels narrower than some competitors intended specifically for human-hauling. And the aforementioned third row feels like an afterthought; while there is room back there for children, we expect most CX-9 drivers will simply fold the seats flat. After all, there's precious little space behind the third row with the seats upright, anyway.
 
Jaguar offers a choice of 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel or 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline V-6 engines. With 180 hp and 317 pound-feet of torque, the diesel isn't a rocket ship  but it delivers up to 33 mpg on the highway. Opt for the V-6 and performance is stellar. It's rated at 340 hp on most F-Paces or 380 hp on the F-Pace S. It's quick, and the exhaust sounds want you to know it, which can wear on passengers after a few hundred miles of driving. Ostensibly, the F-Pace goes up against the Porsche Macan in terms of its sporty positioning. It succeeds, delivering a driving experience that is genuinely thrilling. While the Mazda has some sporty cues to the behind-the-wheel experience, the Jaguar ultimately feels far more polished.
 
2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9

 
Its passengers aren't exactly treated to a traditional Jaguar interior, however. While Jaguar was once known for is cozy cabins that felt like smoking rooms on wheels, today the F-Pace delivers a more stark environment. It does offer decent space for five and their luggage, but any additional passengers will need to ride in a second car. he F-Pace has very firm and flat seats, with just a bit of lumbar adjustment, and a high driving position for the commanding view of the road that draws drivers to SUVs in the first place.
 
The F-Pace comes in a wide array of trim configurations, but for the purpose of this comparison we'll just look at the lower-spec models. You'll net standard Meridian-branded audio, a decent touchscreen infotainment system, and a panoramic roof for less than $45,000. Though you're sitting on synthetic leather upholstery, the base F-Pace otherwise feels fairly high-buck. It does take opting for the pricier Prestige trim level to sit on proper cow hide and to replace some of the basic black plastic interior trim with something a little classier, however.
 
So, what's the verdict here—is the CX-9 a value-oriented F-Pace alternative, or is the F-Pace worth the few extra bucks over the CX-9? 
 
Although we haven't rated the Mazda for 2017 yet, we think the F-Pace wins this one. It's simply more polished and more decidedly sporty, without relying on a firm ride and heavy steering to mask some of its chassis weaknesses like the Mazda does. 
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Summary

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace does an excellent job of putting just as much emphasis on sport as on utility.
7.8
Expert Rating
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 has sharp handling and sleek looks, but falls a bit shy in features and third-row space.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
Pretty, Mazda-like styling makes the F-Pace a standout, but its interior is more subdued.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Taut lines and its best interior yet give the Mazda CX-9 great presence and elegance.
Read More

Performance

8.0
Expert Rating
The F-Pace has the excellent road manners it needs to tackle rivals like the Porsche Macan.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The CX-9's enlightened body and powertrain give it great road manners.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
Spacious and subtly well-trimmed, the Jaguar F-Pace nails the utility part of the SUV equation.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The CX-9 needs more comfortable seats, but three-row space is par for the class, or better.
Read More

Safety

No crash-test data exists; the F-Pace can be fitted with sensors, cameras, even lasers that prevent accidents.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The new CX-9 adds a raft of cutting-edge safety features, but skips others and hasn't been crash-tested yet.
Read More

Features

9.0
Expert Rating
The F-Pace has lush trim, widescreen infotainment, and the best service and warranty in its niche.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Mazda fits some high-end gear to the CX-9, but top safety features only come on expensive models, and the infotainment system is lacking.
Read More

Fuel Economy

7.0
Expert Rating
Available as a gas or diesel, the F-Pace is fairly fuel efficient or very fuel efficient.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
Mazda meets a high standard for crossover-SUV gas mileage.
Read More

MSRP

from $41,990
from $31,520

Invoice

from $39,471
from $29,833

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

29
25

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Diesel I-4, 2.0 L
Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L

Drivetrain

All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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