2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 2012 Mazda CX-9

  • The 2012 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 2012

    The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is essentially unchanged.

Full 2012 Mazda CX-9 Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is essentially unchanged.


Many people imagine that unwieldy handling is an inescapable part of large-SUV ownership, but the 2012 Mazda CX-9 proves this assumption is a false one. The Mazda brand has long been known for offering vehicles that deliver relatively sporty handling, and the CX-9 upholds this tradition, despite its hefty size.

In addition to this pleasant perk, the CX-9 comes with all the features you'd expect from a competitive large crossover. Build quality is impressive and there's adult-size seating in all three rows; you also get a respectable 101 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. Cabin design is handsome and upscale, and the driver enjoys a comfortable, carlike seating position. The CX-9's only notable drawbacks are long rear doors that can be cumbersome in tight parking spots, and the ride stiffness that comes with the Grand Touring's 20-inch wheels.

If engaging handling isn't on your list of priorities, you'll want to look at some capable competitors. With its spacious third-row seat, the Ford Flex offers minivan-like capacity, along with distinctive styling and scores of high-tech features. GM's large crossovers, the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, bring a smoother ride and a bigger cargo area than the Mazda. And for something just a little bit smaller, the recently redesigned Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer are also worthy choices. However, if you want a three-row crossover that melds family-friendly functionality with a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience, you won't do better than the Mazda CX-9.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 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, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 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 the 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, wood interior accents, 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 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an in-dash audio display.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2012 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. Fuel economy is on par with that of 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 2012 Mazda CX-9 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control with a rollover sensor, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active head restraints.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CX-9 its highest rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact crashworthiness, but a second-lowest score of "Marginal" for roof-strength integrity. In Edmunds brake testing, an AWD Grand Touring model came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is impressive for this class.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Mazda CX-9 features a cabin that's stylish and elegant, with a look that's more high end than that of many others in this segment. A graceful waterfall motif on the dash and doors presents visual flair, and except for some low-rent plastics on the center stack, materials quality is respectable. The center console bin -- with its unique split-opening lid -- is quite capacious, but overall, there aren't a lot of storage opportunities inside the cabin.

Within the first two rows, there's ample room even for taller passengers, but headroom is tighter for those seated in the third row. 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 2012 Mazda CX-9 provides admirable road trip transportation, offering a comfortable ride on long journeys. It separates itself from the pack by driving like a smaller, more agile vehicle thanks to its precise, communicative steering and buttoned-down composure in corners. 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 Grand Touring trim, which tend to make the ride somewhat choppy over the rough stuff.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

Fun to drive, but not

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We have a 2012 CX 9 and have enjoyed it until it was slightly out of warranty. The car has a strong motor and for a third-row vehicle is pretty fun to drive. It also performs well in the snow. The brake booster failed last week at 42,000 miles, nearly causing a traffic accident for my wife. This is a recurrent problem with the 2010-2011 CX 9. My guess is you will have problems with 2013-14 models as they hit 30-50k mileage, since the brake system is unchanged. It is unfortunate Mazda chooses not to address safety concerns in a family vehicle. I would look at the Hyundai Santa Fe in this class.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Love love love it!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We bought this car new in 2012. I waited this long to review to make sure I just wasn't being reactive. This car has it all. As a 'soccer' mom, I'm constantly picking up and dropping of kids, swapping car seats, and running errand. The sliding 2nd row makes it easy getting car seats in and out, and fitting even adults in the 3rd row. The power liftgate is handy. There's plenty of room for fitting our 60lb dog and all our bags back there (though I would recommend buying a liner). This week was the first time really testing it on snow and it did great. Not only is it quick, agile, and fun to drive...It's just plain makes life easy. I recommend this car to everyone!

2012 mazda cx-9 grand touring

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

Pros: Driving feel, features Cons: Reliability. interior rattles, gas mileage The car handles very good for such a big auto. I find the driving experience to be enjoyable. The family (6 pax) just returned from a 1600 mile trip. We used a thule attachment on the roof and found the overall driving experience to be very enjoyable. Right before our trip, the front differential started to leak and had to be replaced. The car only had 10,000 miles on it. A fairly major job that almost derailed our vacation. Fortunately for us, the dealer had the part in stock. A little research online revealed this has been a habitual problem for this model.

51 of 120 people found this review helpful

Pretty good value & great

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We bought the vehicle after exhaustively comparing it to the Toyota Highlander and Acura MDX. In the end, we bought the Mazda because (a) the only area the Highlander was better was fuel economy, and (b) the MDX, while a better car in terms of luxury, features, and style, was considerably more expensive and given a feature-by-feature comparison, the Mazda was a much better value. Overall we are happy with the CX-9 and don't regret the decision. After having it for 2+ years, we are in a position to offer a long-term review of plusses and minuses which we hope the manufacturer reads and makes use of.

Very pleased with my cx-9

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We have owned our cx-9 for 9 months. I just hit 8500 miles.we have taken it on one 12 hour each way road trip and have been very impressed. The seats did great on the road trip, for adults & kiddos. I love the handling of the vehicle, feels like driving a car. I get compliments on how nice the interior looks and I have the sport model. Visibility is great. Only complaint is very rarely the sun hits just right on the chrome where the gear shift is and reflects off making it a Little hard to see, but again this has been rare. I love having the blue tooth & like that mazda stocked this vehicle pretty well for an entry level model. Mine has added power seats,heated seats/mirror.

Great car for the money

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mazda CX-9 Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

We've owned this car for 13 months and have put 30,000 miles on it with no mechanical problems or breakdowns. We bought this car because it was larger, better equipped, and lower in price than a Ford Edge. Great performance, comfortable, decent MPG. The only annoying thing is the keyless entry/ignition system. The remotes occasionally will not work. The local dealer replaced the remote batteries one time, but says there is no problem. Still have the problem every couple weeks. Love the car, but the dealer service department is condescending and blows off any mentions of a problem. Don't know if that is a Mazda thing or just this dealer.

Talk About The 2012 CX-9

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
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Identifix Reliability Ratings

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