Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of SUV's. But I got one since every other car on the road is a truck of some sort and in the event of a crash I want my family to be safe. The CX-9 was the only SUV that received 5 stars for front and side crash and 4 star for rollover in ratings. Reliability has been superb so far with regular maintenance.
We drove the Pilot, Highlander, MDX as well and hands down the MDX was the best of the 4 but at $10K more than the CX-9 it was expensive. The gas mileage was lower as well. Pilot was too boxy and the highlander costed as much as the MDX (which is lame).
After a couple years and 20K miles it's still as solid as the first day! Recommended!
I drove my car for a long time and was quite pleased. It had it's minor issues but nothing major. The one thing I kept having problems with was the brakes. I took it into the mechanic 4 different times and they couldn't stop the squeaking. The Mazda dealership later told us that's just Mazda brakes and they all do that! That is not normal! It was only when I backed up, but then started when I stopped at a stop sign. I spent a lot of money trying to fix this problem, and I have yet to fix it. The final problem was the transfer case. The mechanic said it is designed very poorly because there is no way to do maintenance to it. You just have to replace it once it wears out, and if you don't replace it in time then it is linked to the transmission and then you need a new transmission. That is what happened to us. You know there is a problem when the mechanic can't even get the part because they don't have enough parts because there are so many cars having this issue. The final cost was $5,200, and the car is only worth $9,000. It hasn't even hit 100,000. I thought we bought a quality vehicle, and I really loved certain things about the CX 9, but I will never recommend this car to anyone.
You have to drive this vehicle to really appreciate how well it handles. With the AWD version, it feels like the car is driving on two rails it holds the road so well. The interior is luxury-car quiet. Very little road noise. The front driver seats seem a little narrow with the huge center console. It's about 10 inches longer than a Pilot or Highlander, but it doesn't look that way due to the excellent exterior design. Very sporty. The std. blue tooth is a nice touch. My wife LOVES this vehicle. So glad we didn't get a Pilot or Highlander. People complain about the gas mileage, but it's an SUV....they all consume too much gas. The CX-9 was very close in MPG to it's competitors.
Drove them all, including Lexus, Audi, Chevy and Buick, none had all the features and fun factor for the great price. Vehicle has been a pleasure to drive, city and highway, feels solid, no rattles, and interior quality is par with Lexus and Audi.
Just purchased, so it's only been one week. So far we love it, extremely fun to drive and a head-turner in the neighborhood. I recommend everyone try this if you are in the market for a large crossover.