2011 Mazda CX-9 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Mazda CX-9 SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda CX-9 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.7 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 273 hp @ 6250 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Mazda CX-9

  • The 2011 Mazda CX-9 offers everything the typical family-friendly crossover does, plus a dash of spice in the form of driving excitement.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sporty performance; stylish cabin; easy access to spacious third row; solid build quality.

  • Cons

    Long rear doors are an issue in tight parking spaces; 20-inch wheels produce a stiff ride.

  • What's New for 2011

    Other than a slight increase in fuel economy and the addition of speed-sensing automatic door locks, the 2011 Mazda CX-9 is unchanged.

Full 2011 Mazda CX-9 Review

What's New for 2011

Other than a slight increase in fuel economy and the addition of speed-sensing automatic door locks, the 2011 Mazda CX-9 is unchanged.


Fun-to-drive, engaging cars have been hallmarks of the Mazda brand for some time, but can a large SUV deliver this sort of behind-the-wheel entertainment? With the 2011 Mazda CX-9, the answer is resoundingly affirmative. Despite its larger dimensions, the CX-9 drives more like a midsize crossover. In an expanding field of choices that are getting harder to distinguish one from another, the CX-9 stands out thanks to not only its smiling grille, but also the enthusiastic grin it puts on its driver.

The added athleticism doesn't come at the expense of comfort or utility. The Mazda CX-9 provides adult-size seating in all three rows, solid build quality and a respectable 101 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. Easy access to the rearmost seats is an added bonus, as are a carlike driving position and attractive interior styling. The CX-9's only significant downsides include long rear doors that complicate entry and egress in tight parking spots and a ride quality that's just a little too stiff on Grand Touring models with the 20-inch wheels.

Overall, though, the 2011 Mazda CX-9 certainly presents more positives than negatives. But if an involved driving experience isn't a priority for your next family hauler, there are others to consider. The 2011 Ford Flex is one of our favorites thanks to its high-quality interior, roomy third-row seat and innovative electronic features. The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse (plus its Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia relatives) is also worth considering due to its more compliant suspension and roomier cargo area. But for a large three-row crossover that will provide plenty of grins per mile, it doesn't get any better than the CX-9.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Mazda CX-9 is a large seven-passenger crossover SUV that's available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.

The entry-level Sport model includes 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with buttons for audio and cruise control, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

Stepping up to the Touring version adds automatic headlights, heated mirrors, leather upholstery (for front- and second-row seats) and heated power front seats. The Grand Touring adds 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, keyless ignition/entry, driver-seat memory presets, a second-row armrest, interior accents of wood and metal, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a blind-spot warning system.

Available options are dependent on trim level and include a sunroof, a power tailgate, a navigation system with a rearview camera, a stand-alone rearview camera (with a display in the rearview mirror), remote ignition, roof rails and a rear-seat entertainment system. Also available is an upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an in-dash audio display.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2011 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 273 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only transmission available, but buyers can choose between front- and all-wheel drive. Properly equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive CX-9 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, while an AWD model required 8.5 seconds. Compared to competing models, these figures are just about average. With some slight gains this year, fuel economy is on par with other large crossovers at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg in combined driving for front-wheel-drive models. The all-wheel-drive CX-9 drops to 16/22/19 mpg.


Standard safety equipment for every 2011 Mazda CX-9 includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control with a rollover sensor, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active head restraints. An optional rearview camera is available on Touring and Grand Touring models, while a blind-spot warning system is standard on the Grand Touring.

The Mazda CX-9 has not been rated using the government's new, more demanding 2011 crash testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) resulted in a perfect five out of five stars for frontal and side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also awarded the CX-9 its highest rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact crashworthiness.

In Edmunds brake testing, an AWD Grand Touring model came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is short for SUVs in this class.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Mazda CX-9 features an elegant interior that is more carlike than other SUVs in this category — especially in regard to its seating position and dash design. Leather and cloth seating surfaces plus wood and chrome trim add distinction to the sporty interior, while two-tone leather treatments and red-and-blue lighting for the instruments deliver visual flair. There are some subpar plastics (particularly on the center stack), and a lack of useful storage bins also detract from an otherwise sharp execution.

Taller, adult-size passengers in the first two seating rows will likely find the accommodations comfortable, but third-row occupants have a bit less headroom. The second-row seat reclines and slides fore and aft to deliver optimal comfort. Access to the third row comes easily thanks to large openings for the rear doors and the fold-and-slide second row; however, the larger doors can be troublesome in tight parking spaces. With the second and third rows folded flat, the CX-9 offers up 101 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Driving Impressions

Like many large crossovers, the 2011 Mazda CX-9 provides a comfortable ride for long road trips. Surprisingly, the CX-9 also performs admirably around corners. From behind the steering wheel, it drives like a smaller, more agile vehicle, especially in its precise, communicative steering. While the Mazda's driving dynamics are suited to winding roads, they also translate well to the confines of city travel. The compliant suspension soaks up bumps and potholes to provide a poised, comfortable ride, but we would steer buyers away from the 20-inch tires of the CX-9 Grand Touring, which tend to make the ride somewhat choppy over the rough stuff.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Nice, but....

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

Had since new, 28k miles now. I tested everything at the time, traded an 08 Pathfinder. First impression was good; comfy, good power, nice interior. I almost passed for two reasons that now have me shopping again; FWD, and steering position. I prefer RWD or AWD but wanted best fuel econ. Although torque steer is not an issue, it IS a heavy steering feel and quick acceleration out of a tight/emergency spot just spins the wheels.#2, I just can't get comfortable with steering position. The wheel is slanted too far forward, making the reach at 10/2 a stretch (I'm 5'8"). Not enough adj to make it right for me. No lighted window/door lock swtchs, boomy sound and no flat cargo area are other gripes

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

Transfer case go boom!!!

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

My wife took her our cx9 on a road trip with our 2 girls. On the way home she heard a clunk trying to back up. Then at low speeds she heard a grinding noise, pulled over and had it towed to a dealership. They said it had mice nesting near the bell housing. Today I was suppose to go get it back and the mechanic called and said he tried to back it up and CLUNK. Cracked transfer case. It will be another 2 - 3 weeks before its fixed. It looks like many other owners have had this problem. Ours only had 17k miles on it. Mazda should recall their cx9.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Very good vehicle!

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

I have had my CX-9 for 2 years and 36,000 trouble free miles. I have two small children and my wife and the kids have made several 1,000 mile road trips. Very comfortable and stable on the road. I also have a 550i BMW, and this car definitley is as much fun to drive. Relatively speaking. Best value out there!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Best value in a 7

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

I did a HUGE amount of driving and trying of many cars (Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Merc GL450, Hyundai veracruz) and found this to me the best mix of style and value. Not wanting to drive a outwardly expensive car and still wanting sport we picked this. I love it more now than when I test drove it. Great car for a good price.

Cx-9 a mixed bag

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We have had our CX-9 GT AWD now for six months and the best description I can give is a “mixed bag”. There is a lot of extras for the $ but.. After 6 months I’m wishing we would have spent a little more and made another choice. Issues include; poor mileage – I have a ’06 V-8 Yukon XL 4X4 that gets better mileage both in town and HWY. Poor Navigation. There is a lot of noise inside – wind noise, road noise, gas sloshing around in the fuel tank and after six months many new squeaks and rattles surfacing. The Bose sound is nice but too much noise to really enjoy it. Interior quality looks great but not quite refined yet. Interior leather looks great and appears to be holding up well.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Best 7 passenger suv i

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

After an exhaustive search we finally decided on the CX-9 GT AWD. We looked at EVERYTHING. From Kia to Audi and everything in-between. High on the list was the BMW X5 and the Audi Q7 TDI. The Q7 was the best SUV we tested, and if money wasn't an issue that's what we would have bought. However, after driving the Mazda and seeing all the standard equipment you get for under 40K I couldn't believe it. I thought we would have to give something up in either luxury items, interior material, or ride quality, but we didn't. I really feel like we got it all in this vehicle and saved 30K over the Audi. Hats off to Mazda for making such an affordable, enjoyable vehicle to drive.

Talk About The 2011 CX-9

2011 Mazda CX-9 Discussions See all Started By

Feds Probe 2010-'11 Mazda CX-9 After Complaints of Brake Booster Failure The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into an estimated 62,319 2010-'11 Mazda CX-9 cro...

Mazda dealer is offering me a discount on 2010 (touring model)...

Our 2011 CX 9 with 41k miles just had the transfer case replaced under warranty. Mazda is extending the warranty on the transfer cases for 7 years and 90,000 miles. The tech told me they overheat a?...

Read more about the 2011 Mazda CX-9

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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