2008 Mazda CX-9 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong performance and handling, stylish and roomy cabin, easy access to third row, solid build quality, high crash test scores.
  • Long rear doors can be hard to open in tight parking spaces, 20-inch wheels give a stiff ride on concrete freeways, stingy interior storage.
List Price Range
$3,595 - $9,950

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Now with more power, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 is an even more compelling choice in the ever-expanding seven-passenger crossover SUV field. Its ability to combine common practicality and real third-row space with unexpected amounts of style and performance is hard to beat.

Vehicle overview

Making a great thing even better is a wonderful thing indeed -- like adding Al Pacino to the Ocean's 11 cast or plugging Alex Rodriguez into the Yankees lineup. After only one year in production, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 can now be included on that "great things made better" list along with Al, A-Rod and Diet Coke with lemon.

Last year's CX-9 featured a 263-hp, 3.5-liter V6 that we described as having "strong pull through the midrange, as well as impressive smoothness and a sporty sound when the whip is cracked." It also brought the CX-9 from zero to 60 mph in a tidy 7.7 seconds, which was very quick for its class. In other words, this was an engine that didn't need to be replaced. Mazda did it anyway. The 2008 CX-9 features a bored-out version of the "old" engine shared with the Ford Edge and other Ford family products, resulting in a 3.7-liter displacement, 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The new engine, and its transmission, is also now built in Japan rather than in the United States.

Aside from its engine, the CX-9 remains the same. It still boasts a very spacious interior, including a third-row seat that is legitimately habitable for adults, with relatively easy ingress and egress made possible by a fold-and-slide second row. That interior is also elegantly tailored in any of the three trim levels, with an attractive dash design, high feature content and excellent materials. Best of all, the CX-9 sets itself apart with superb handling that makes this 4,500-pound sport-utility feel like a much smaller vehicle. Just because this is the largest vehicle Mazda has ever produced doesn't mean it lacks that zoom-zoom attitude.

The seven-passenger midsize crossover segment is expanding faster than Donald Trump's ego. An all-new Toyota Highlander and forthcoming all-new Honda Pilot should make things harder for the 2008 Mazda CX-9, which already has been greeted with three formidable opponents from GM's Buick, GMC and Saturn divisions. Yet this Mazda's ability to meld real utility, sharp good looks, excellent quality and a fun-to-drive personality make it a very tough package to beat.

2008 Mazda CX-9 models

The 2008 Mazda CX-9 is a seven-passenger large crossover SUV that's available in three trim levels. The entry-level Sport comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and a CD player with an auxiliary audio jack. The mid-line Touring version adds two-tone leather seating, heated/powered front seats, Bluetooth and heated sideview mirrors. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring adds 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition, memory driver seat presets, wood cabin accents and special blue cabin illumination.

Options include a power driver seat (Sport), an upgraded surround-sound Bose audio system, a sunroof, a rearview camera (with its display mounted in the rearview mirror), a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Assistance Package bundles a navigation system, a rearview camera (integrated into the nav screen) and a power rear hatch. In the Touring model, this package includes keyless ignition.

2008 Highlights

An all-new model last year, the Mazda CX-9 cruises into 2008 with a heavily revised engine that increases output by 10 horsepower and 21 pound-feet of torque. A blind-spot warning system also debuts on the Grand Touring trim level.

Performance & mpg

The 2008 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, while all trim levels can be equipped with either front- or all-wheel drive. When equipped with the optional towing package, the CX-9 can tow a modest 3,500 pounds. EPA fuel economy for the 2008 front-wheel-drive model is about average for this segment, with a 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway rating. The all-wheel-drive CX-9 gets 1 mpg less.

Safety

All 2008 CX-9 trim levels come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control with a rollover sensor, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A blind-spot warning system is standard on the Grand Touring. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the CX-9 did very well, scoring five out of five stars in all front and side crash tests. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CX-9 its top rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact crashworthiness.

Driving

We never had any complaints about the "old" V6's performance, so 10 additional horses should only increase our affection for the 2008 Mazda CX-9. Like other large crossovers, this big Mazda is at home on a long interstate cruise, but it betters its seven-passenger brethren by being able to tackle twisty roads as well. The CX-9 feels buttoned-down and lighter than it really is thanks to the sport-tuned suspension and low-profile tires. The steering is precise and direct, if a bit light on-center. Ride comfort is generally well-damped, though the 20-inch wheels on the Grand Touring trim transmit some chop when driven over the expansion joints of concrete highways. If Michigan's Interstate 69 or any freeway around Los Angeles is a part of your daily commute, you may want to consider one of the other trims or fitting smaller rims to your Grand Touring.

Read our 2008 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Interior

The 2008 CX-9 offers one of, if not the best, interiors in its class in terms of styling, ergonomics, quality and space. Fitted with two-tone leather, metal-look accents and either piano black or tasteful wood trim, the CX-9 is a very stylish take on a very user-friendly environment. Controls are easy to use and materials quality is top-notch. The highlight of the cabin, however, is the roomy two-passenger third-row seat, which is well-shaped and roomy enough for a 6-footer. Access to that third row is eased by large rear door openings (which can be troublesome in tight parking lots, though) and the fold-and-slide second row. If you're not prepared to go the minivan route, the CX-9 is one of the few crossovers that is legitimately a useful seven-passenger alternative.

With the third row in place, there are 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space available, which expands to 47.5 cubes with it folded flat. Maximum capacity is a massive 100.7 cubic feet. In its segment, these impressive numbers trail only the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook triplets.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Mazda CX-9.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great vehicle until the brake issues hit
jusride,05/13/2015
Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)
We bought our 2008 CX-9 Grand Touring new in 2009. It's been a great vehicle, although it does go through tires (not alignment caused). No issues to report until the brakes went out Saturday. No warning, driving down the road and no brakes. The only thing that saved us was light traffic on a early Saturday morning. If this would've been during the work week a severe accident would've happened. There is a factory "recall" on the brake booster even though the defective item is the brake master cylinder. This was defective from the factory and slowing leaks into the brake booster until they both fail.
2008 Mazda CX-9
Michael Reisig,05/07/2016
Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)
Probably the worst vehicle I've ever owned, no ZOOM ZOOM here! After the vehicle hit a 100K, it was all downhill from there. First, a wiring harness holding clip broke causing the harness to shift and rub against the frame. Eventually, the vibration wore the insulation on the wires away (within the harness) making them come in contact with one another. This created a short in the electrical system causing No. 6 coil and fuel injector to go out. Parts and labor repair cost: $1007. Next, at 104K, the master cylinder brake booster went out. Parts and labor repair cost: $585. Third, at 109K, the “internal” water pump went out causing coolant and water to mix with the oil. This resulted in the ruination of the engine. UNBELIEVABLE engineering design! Repair cost for a junkyard motor with installation: $3650. Water pumps go out on vehicles all the time without ruining the engines. It's appalling to think that Mazda would ever use such an inferior design that would cause such a thing. Finally, I called Mazda USA headquarters to see if I could get some financial assistance with the engine replacement cost but was told since I didn't take it to the dealership to perform the work that I was out of luck. (Mazda Registered Complaint No. 1-281511575)
Most reliable vehicle we have EVER owned.
krustuhfar,02/20/2013
We bought this car brand new in 2008. This has been the most reliable car we have EVER owned. It has not once left us stranded. We've hauled some huge loads too. and it just keeps going and going. We took this car ALL THE WAY FROM LOUISIANA TO MAYNE. THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF MILES. In a period of 5 days. and not once did we think it was going to give up. We loved our cx9. Sadly, at a wopping 179,000 miles, we hydroplaned into a ditch and totaled it. Such a shame. We never had to do any major repairs on it. THe only bad thing is it was constantly having tire/wheel issues. it would need a brake job about every 16 months. And tire pressure was always low. Other than that. it was amazing.
zoon zoom smart
momoffive1,05/13/2011
Just drove home in my new (to me) CX-9. Got an amazing deal from a craigslist ad. Unbelievable car! Not sure I have ever been in such a luxurious vehicle! My whole family fits, all 7 of us, including 3 carseats. I was a little surprised by the small cargo area, I think my husband's Corolla has more room, but you know what? I really don't care! I was going to have to get a roof box for trips, anyway. I can't believe this is a base model! Smooth drive, quiet, roomy 3rd row, nice storage compartments, and my mp3 player plugs right in...great Bose sound! I spent 18K and drove home feeling like a millionaire. You have to see it and drive it to believe it! Happy Mommy!!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 Mazda CX-9

Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 Overview

The Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 is offered in the following submodels: CX-9 SUV. Available styles include Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Grand Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A), and Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Mazda CX-9?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is priced between $3,595 and$8,493 with odometer readings between 133099 and172145 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 Touring is priced between $6,900 and$8,991 with odometer readings between 98544 and131504 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport is priced between $9,950 and$9,950 with odometer readings between 93626 and93626 miles.

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Which used 2008 Mazda CX-9s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Mazda CX-9 for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2008 CX-9s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,595 and mileage as low as 93626 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Mazda CX-9.

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Find a used Mazda CX-9 for sale - 6 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $8,720.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Mazda CX-9?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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