2017 Mazda CX-9 Review
Which CX-9 does Edmunds recommend?
We like the Grand Touring so much that we bought one. With 20-inch wheels and aluminum interior trim, it looks great, and it comes with several driver/safety aids such as collision warning and mitigation and lane departure intervention. But we chose the Grand Touring so we could report on multiple different features. We actually think a CX-9 Touring model with the optional Touring Premium package would satisfy most buyers. This configuration adds several of the Grand Touring's features — navigation, premium Bose audio, sunroof — and still costs less.
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Sharp modern style inside and out, the CX-9 feels richer than its cost
- Sporty handling makes it fun to drive
- 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 competitors
- Third-row seats aren't especially accommodating
|Overall||4.5 / 5|
The Mazda CX-9 is one of those vehicles that earns the "it drives like a smaller car" description. It feels more athletic than competitors on a winding road and is more maneuverable in trickier confines. The turbocharged engine has enough power to satisfy most drivers.
Whether you're just commuting or taking a long road trip, the CX-9 delivers an impressive degree of comfort thanks to a smooth ride, quiet cabin and well-sculpted seats. Our test car's air-conditioning was mediocre, but we're not yet certain if this early test sample is representative.
Pretty much everything about the CX-9's interior feels right and thoughtfully designed. This is a new benchmark for non-luxury SUVs, and other manufacturers should take notes on how Mazda makes the most of available space and how quality components all contribute to a favorable impression.
The CX-9 doesn't hold as much cargo as competing SUVs. But thoughtful design makes it easy to live with, and growing families should find adequate space for their stuff. Few people tow with SUVs in this class, so the fact that the CX-9 doesn't lead in this area might not be of concern.
Mazda took a page from the German luxury playbook by incorporating a dial-based infotainment interface, and it's one of the better systems at any price. Likewise, the active-safety driver aids it offers seem to be well-tuned to avoid an abundance of false alarms.
Most helpful consumer reviews
K M Rich,04/20/2017
Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I used to have a Volvo XC90 (for 10 years) but when it came time to replace, I needed to expand my horizons due to cost. A friend owns and loves the Mazda CX-9, so I took a test drive. My SO fell in love immediately. It took a little longer for me to come around, but for a turbo engine the car really moves. It has great styling (everyone around my office has complimented me) and the interior is beautifully crafted. The drivers seat is a little smaller than my previous SUV, and the actual cargo room is practically nil (without folding down the third row) but I love that the second row reclines and shifts in 2 pieces, making it very adaptable for my family. Gas mileage to date appears to be in range, although lower than I originally projected/anticipated. Overall I'm pleased with my purchase.
Signature 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I recently got to spend a week driving the new 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature Edition. Initially I didn't have high hopes. You see, I'm a sports car guy. The CX-9 is an SUV and we all know how well SUV's handle, right? However, I decided to approach it with an open mind and hoped some redeeming quality would pique my interest. The exterior was surprisingly attractive - not your typical slab-sided SUV or "look-at-my-cray-cray-design" crossover. Instead, it was an elegantly styled SUV body with very artistic details. Overall, I'd call it "wind-sculpted." Throughout the week, I found myself looking at other SUV drivers with pity, wondering how they could stand driving those bland boxes when something this smart looking was available. And as much as I liked the exterior, the interior was even MORE attractive: black carpeting, auburn red leather seats, piano black panels, chrome bits for accent, and rosewood switch bezels on the doors. It has to be the most beautiful and inviting interior I've ever been in. It's the kind of interior that makes you want to stay just a bit longer. When I was informed that it only had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, I immediately expected that it was going to be underpowered but Mazda's SkyActiv technology that they keep touting is evidently a real thing and not just a marketing ploy because the CX-9 never really felt underpowered to me. Sure, it wasn't going to win any drag races but it was quick to reach the speed limit and once at speed, it offered plenty of power for passing and overtaking. But what really amazed me and changed my mind about the CX-9 was the handling. After driving around for a few days, getting comfortable with it, I got a little bored and decided to push it a little down some backroads near my house that had a nice mix of curves and hills. Selecting "Sport" mode on the center console, I got kind of aggressive with it and drove it more like a sports car. And the CX-9 never batted an eye. It gracefully glided through the curves like no SUV I've ever driven. The engine and transmission were responsive to my driving style, helping me get the most out of the car, and when I needed to slow down fast, the anti-lock brakes did a superb job of controllably and confidently slowing it down. I've always known Mazda for the Miata, but it appears that even their more pedestrian people movers have that same sporting DNA that people who love to drive look for. On top of that, Mazda loaded the CX-9 with a raft of safety technology to keep you in your lane, warn you of blind spot drivers and cross traffic as you back up in parking lots, and many other things. When the week was up, I was thoroughly impressed with this vehicle and I know that if I ever need an SUV, Mazda will be the first (and probably ONLY) brand I look at. The only thing I could have wanted on the car would be paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It would have made it even more fun to drive and a little less SUV-ish. Still, overall, it's a winner. Very nicely done, Mazda. Very nicely done.
Signature 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
If you're after a quiet ride, this is it. As road surfaces continue to deteriorate, a quiet ride is difficult to achieve. With this vehicle Mazda has succeeded in achieving quiet. At 70mph on a lousy highway surface it's possible to have a normal conversation within the vehicle. That's what won me over. Six months later: on occasion the safety feature adaptive cruise control will "see" a hazard in the adjacent lane and go into an auto braking mode, which is totally unnecessary. Everything else is excellent, including achieving 28 MPG on the highway. This vehicle is infinitely superior to the Acura MDX it replaced.
Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Car and Driver is right - this 3-row SUV drives like a small car. Handles great, good acceleration, never feels like the engine is working too hard. Love the cargo space.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the CX-9 models:
- Smart City Brake Support
- Automatically applies emergency braking if a low-speed collision seems imminent. Designed for urban commutes, works at speeds below 20 mph.
- Smart Brake Support
- Automatically applies emergency braking if a collision seems imminent. Similar to Smart City Brake Support but activates at higher speeds.
- Lane Keep Assist
- Helps prevent unintentional drifting from the lane (due to driver inattention, etc.) by automatically steering car back to center of lane.