2018 Mazda CX-9 Review
With three rows of seats and a loaded feature list to satisfy a growing family's needs, the 2018 Mazda CX-9 is one of the best, and best-looking, big crossovers out there. But it's more than just a pretty face; it's also a genuine pleasure to drive.
The CX-9 delivers what most SUV owners really want: a high level of comfort and refinement, a lot of room and modern connected technology. In its top Signature trim level, the CX-9 even flirts with a look and feel that you'd expect of an Audi or Volvo. It's the most luxurious example in its class. That the CX-9 actually drives really well — it's quick and alert when you stomp on the gas or bend it into a turn — is icing on the cake.
Taste being subjective, the CX-9 strikes one of the best poses among family SUVs. No safe, middle-of-the-road body design here. This is clean and windswept, with sharp edges and just-right proportions. It won't suit every buyer, but it's a standout look. Inside and around that striking shape, you'll find plenty of safety and connected tech and an interior highlighted by leather, aluminum and rosewood accents, depending on trim level.
The CX-9 makes some compromises, however. At about 72 cubic feet with second- and third-row seats folded, cargo capacity isn't as cavernous as others in the class, and its third row isn't especially accommodating either, at least not compared to the one in a competitor such as the Honda Pilot. These are the trade-offs for the impeccable style we lauded earlier. But overall, the CX-9 delivers an all-around package that makes it one of the best three-row SUVs on the market.
trim levels & features
The 2018 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row crossover SUV that seats seven passengers. It's available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature trim levels. All CX-9s are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (250 horsepower, 310 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
Standard features on the Sport include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seats, 50/50 split-folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Mazda's Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch display, and a six-speaker sound system. Also included is blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a low-speed automatic emergency braking system useful in urban and congested traffic.
The Touring trim adds to Sport features with automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, an 8-inch infotainment display and two USB ports in the second-row center armrest.
The Touring also adds more safety features that include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention, and enhanced automatic emergency braking.
The Grand Touring trim further dresses things up with 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, roof rails, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, driver-seat memory functions, retractable sunshades for the middle-row seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, 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, which adds exterior LED accent lighting, premium leather upholstery and rosewood interior trim. All-wheel drive is standard on the Signature.
Some of the features on higher trims are available on supporting models as options.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of a 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature (turbo 2.5L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the CX-9 has received some minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to this year's model, however.
Noise & vibration
Ease of use
Getting in/getting out
Audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.