2012 Mazda CX-9 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty performance
  • stylish cabin
  • easy access to spacious third row
  • solid build quality.
  • Long rear doors are an issue in tight parking spaces
  • 20-inch wheels produce a stiff ride.
List Price Range
$6,900 - $12,208

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Mazda CX-9 offers everything the typical family-friendly crossover does, plus a dash of spice in the form of driving excitement.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Mazda CX-9 models

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.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is essentially unchanged.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Mazda CX-9.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Love Love Love it!
nicclements,01/23/2014
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!
Top Notch Choice
sawyer98,11/15/2012
Purchased a 2012 CX-9 GT. I'm fussy about build quality. I didn't find a single quality issue with my car. Every seam, all the paint, every fit was perfect, inside and out. An excellent value and definite upgrade from others in it's class...and I checked them all. The 20" tires are "firm", but I expected that. Mileage combined has been about 23.5. Also what I expected. I leave the 3rd row folded down to increase capacity. No problem. My local dealer provided the best buying experience I've ever had. Service dept is excellent and every employee has been friendly and helpful. Maybe I'm just lucky?
Brake Booster - Your car won't stop
Cookie,10/13/2015
Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)
Mazda is having an issue with brake boosters in the CX-9. Mine failed today at 52K miles. I couldn't stop the car pulling out of the garage and rolled it into my side yard. I took it into the Mazda dealership, and they know there's an issue. There's a service bulletin, and they replace the brake booster for free. I can't believe they haven't recalled the car - this could cause a serious accident. There is an issue with the diaphragm in the brake booster failing in hot climates. I live in Ohio. It can get hot here, but give me a "brake" - literally. The dealership cannot tell me if the new brake booster has the same issue. I'm assuming it does since I've read about these failures happening in the CX-9 since this design was released. The car is at the dealership every 5K miles for maintenance - they didn't catch it there either. You'd think they would check since it's a recurring issue. I'm beyond disappointed Mazda allows the car to be on the road with this type of failure possible. I wouldn't buy this car again.
Mazda saved our lives
Jasmine Franks,06/14/2018
Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A)
Hi mazda Last Monday June 11th I was involved in a car accident in my 2012 Mazda CX-9. I want to say THANK YOU! for building an great quality vehicle. This vehicle saved my 3 children's life and mine. The curtain airbags deployed right on time to prevent us from injuring our heads. My kids and I were able to walk out that wrench with not even a scratch. Thank you for protecting my family.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover15.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Marginal
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Mazda CX-9

Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 Overview

The Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 is offered in the following submodels: CX-9 SUV. Available styles include Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Grand Touring 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Sport 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A), and Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Mazda CX-9?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 Touring is priced between $6,900 and$12,208 with odometer readings between 68563 and140851 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Mazda CX-9 Sport is priced between $8,600 and$10,995 with odometer readings between 86593 and126681 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 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) 2012 Mazda CX-9 for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2012 CX-9s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,900 and mileage as low as 68563 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 2012 Mazda CX-9.

Can't find a used 2012 Mazda CX-9s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda CX-9 for sale - 5 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $13,174.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 6 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $19,251.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda CX-9 for sale - 12 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $10,411.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 2 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $9,553.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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.

Check out Mazda lease specials
Check out Mazda CX-9 lease specials