2016 Mazda CX-9 Review
Pros & Cons
- Inside and out, the CX-9 is attractively styled
- estimated fuel economy is better than the class average
- comfortable interior remains quiet on the highway
- top level Signature trim is on par with some luxury-brand competitors.
- Cargo capacity isn't as generous as rivals
- leather seats can be stifling in warm weather
- third row of seats isn't very accommodating for passengers.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 is attractive inside and out, but it's more than just a pretty face. It's a pleasure to drive and will satisfy all of your growing family's requirements thanks to its generous size and numerous features. It's one of our top-ranked three-row SUVs.
Notably, we picked the Mazda CX-9 as one of Edmunds' Best Used SUVs for 2016.
It's been nine years since Mazda brought the first CX-9 to market. In that time, SUVs have increased their domination of the market, so the pressure was on to follow it up with something impressive. By all accounts, the redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9 has succeeded thanks to its excellent drivability, attractive styling and an interior that exceeds expectations.
Unlike other Mazda vehicles, the new CX-9 doesn't distinguish itself as the fun-to-drive alternative in the class. Instead, it delivers what most SUV drivers actually want. The CX-9 is appropriately responsive and powerful while delivering high levels of comfort and refinement. In the range-topping Signature trim, it even flirts with the entry-level luxury segment. As further incentive, you get a lot of features for the money and with strong fuel economy figures, its cost of ownership will remain favorable.
On the downside, the 2016 Mazda CX-9 doesn't hold as much cargo as competitors, and the third row of seats is cramped. That said, we wouldn't call the interior restrictive. Second-row seats are spacious and comfortable and clever engineering makes the most of all available luggage space. It will certainly meet the needs of the typical growing family.
Sleek styling and bold accents make the 2016 Mazda CX-9 one of the prettiest SUVs in its class.
Of course, the 2016 Mazda CX-9 isn't the only choice. Other three-row SUVs worth considering include the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, all of which received Edmunds "A" ratings. We're confident the CX-9 will also earn a top grade. This new and improved CX-9 is definitely worth a spot on your short list.
2016 Mazda CX-9 models
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row midsize crossover SUV with seating for seven. It is offered in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature trim levels.
The Sport trim comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, cruise control, keyless entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seats, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, Mazda's Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio, auxiliary/USB input and Internet streaming radio apps.
The Touring adds heated mirrors, a power liftgate with adjustable height stops, keyless ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts, heated front seats, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar support (four-way front passenger seat), an 8-inch infotainment display and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.
The Grand Touring trim further dresses things up with 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors, frontal collision warnings and mitigation, a head-up display, driver seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle row seats, aluminum interior trim, additional interior lighting, a navigation system, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system and satellite radio.
At the top of the range is the Signature trim that adds exterior LED accent lighting, premium leather upholstery and rosewood interior trim.
Some of the features on higher trims are available on supporting models as options.
Performance & mpg
Under the long hood of the CX-9 is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on standard gasoline. Using premium fuel increases horsepower to 250 hp, but torque output remains the same. That means there really won't be an appreciable change in performance as far as the driver is concerned. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels, and all-wheel drive is available on all models. The Signature trim is only sold as AWD.
The EPA estimates for fuel economy are 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) for the front-wheel-drive model and 23 mpg combined (21/27) for the AWD. These estimates are better than average among other three-row SUVs. Properly equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Standard safety features for all 2016 Mazda CX-9 models include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and emergency telematics.
Touring trims and above also benefit from a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts, while Grand Touring and Signature trims also receive a lane-keep assist system, rear parking sensors and frontal collision mitigation up to 18 mph.
Mazda has carved out its niche as a maker of cars that are fun to drive, but the CX-9 takes a more conventional approach. The ride quality is soft and compliant for a smooth ride over imperfect pavement, but it may be a bit too soft, as we felt some extra movement after encountering bumps. When taking a corner, there's a decent amount of body roll, but the big SUV still feels manageable and confident.
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 delivers the right amount of responsiveness, refinement and comfort that SUV shoppers are seeking.
The 2.5-liter engine's power output specs may leave some unimpressed, but it's a different story behind the wheel. There's an abundance of power at low engine speeds, tapering off as the engine approaches its limits. Considering that few drivers ever floor the pedal like this, Mazda wisely chose responsiveness and drivability over power on paper. The CX-9 reaches highway speeds and passes slower traffic with ease, and gearchanges are quick and smooth. On the highway, the interior is well insulated from road and wind noise, too, making for a fatigue-free environment.
So despite being less sporty than we'd expect from Mazda, the 2016 CX-9 should appeal to those in the market for a three-row SUV.
The 2016 Mazda CX-9's interior easily exceeds expectations for the class. Its overall design is visually pleasing without being gimmicky, and all controls are thoughtfully placed. Mazda's Connect infotainment system is intuitive and the display is perfectly placed in the driver's line of sight. The Signature trim's cabin further enhances the luxury feel thanks to its rosewood and aluminum trim and deep red leather upholstery.
It'd be easy to mistake the 2016 Mazda CX-9's interior for that of a luxury brand. We think it's especially true of the top-of-the-line Signature trim.
Its front seats provide ample support and comfort for long-distance road trips, though the leather can be stifling in warm weather. The second-row seats are equally comfortable and feature a generous range of slide and recline travel adjustments. As is customary for SUVs in this class, the third row is intended for occasional use by smaller passengers. Children will be just fine back there, but the lack of headroom and the low-mounted seat cushion mean that adults will find it suitable for short trips only.
Behind the third row are 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space along with a shallow underfloor bin. With the rear seats folded, capacity expands to 38.2 cubic feet, and with both floors stowed, 71.2 cubic feet are available. That figure is smaller than average for three-row SUVs, but the CX-9 makes up for it with a flat load floor that makes loading of bulky items much easier.