2018 Mazda CX-9 Review

Pros & Cons

  • With 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 in competitors
  • Third-row seats aren't especially accommodating
List Price Range
$25,000 - $34,475

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Which CX-9 does Edmunds recommend?

With 20-inch wheels and upgraded interior trim, the Grand Touring model looks great and comes with several driver safety aids such as frontal collision warning and mitigation and lane departure intervention. We liked it so much that we bought one. But we chose the Grand Touring only to report on its variety of features. We actually think a CX-9 Touring model with the optional Touring Premium package will 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

Overall rating

7.9 / 10

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.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Mazda CX-9 as one of Edmunds' Best Family SUVs, Best Used SUVs and Best Midsize SUVs for 2018.

What's it like to live with?

To learn more about the Mazda CX-9 of this generation, read about our editors' experiences from a full year and 20,000 miles of driving a 2016 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. We cover everything from seat comfort to real-world fuel economy. We found the CX-9 to be one of the most fun and best-looking SUVs around, but its cargo space might not be enough for some shoppers.

2018 Mazda CX-9 models

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.

Trim tested

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.

Driving

8.5
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.

Acceleration

8.0
Plentiful power and sharp response off the line. The CX-9 has no trouble passing slower traffic, and it easily accelerates up to speed when merging onto a highway. Power tapers off as the engine nears redline, so our 0-60 mph run took 7.3 seconds — about average for this class.

Braking

8.5
The brakes feel firm, dependable and easy to modulate in everyday driving. And the CX-9 proved to be quite controllable in our simulated panic-stop test, during which it needed 115 feet to stop from 60 mph — an admirably short stop for a three-row crossover SUV.

Steering

9.0
The CX-9 has good straight-ahead stability on the highway and delivers crisp response when turning. It maintains a good sense of connection with the driver, and steering effort builds nicely as it bends into corners. Excellent among SUVs and better than some sedans.

Handling

8.0
The CX-9 feels eager and nimble on mountain roads. You might notice a bit of body roll in long corners because of the CX-9's relatively high SUV driving position, but it builds gradually and the chassis remains secure and settled throughout. The overall feel is one of confidence.

Drivability

9.0
The CX-9 moves out quickly when you press on the accelerator, yet the pedal is smooth and easy to regulate. The smart-shifting transmission executes smooth shifts that are made quickly when they need to be.

Comfort

8.0
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.

Seat comfort

8.0
We found the front seats to be well-shaped and supportive over many hours of touring. The sliding and reclining second-row seats proved just as accommodating. But the third row's low cushion and tight headroom limit its appeal.

Ride comfort

8.0
Previous Mazda SUVs have generally been tuned for stiff sportiness, but the CX-9 is more focused on comfort and luxury. It smooths out road imperfections exceptionally well, but we did encounter some residual rebounds after rolling over moderate-sized lumps and bumps.

Noise & vibration

9.0
This is one quiet highway cruiser. Wind and road noise is silenced to levels we're accustomed to (not) hearing in luxury vehicles. The level of quietness might have made a few minor creaks from the center console seem louder than they were. (Note: Our test car was a preproduction sample.)

Climate control

6.0
On hot days our CX-9's automatic climate control struggled to keep the cabin as cool as we would have liked. The lack of available ventilated seats was a particular problem because the leather didn't seem to breathe as much as we're used to.

Interior

8.0
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.

Ease of use

9.0
Most major controls are logically placed and easy to use. The infotainment system's main control knob is easily one of the best we've encountered. It is placed where your hand normally rests, the screen is right in your sight line, response is quick and the menus are intuitive.

Getting in/getting out

8.0
Access to the front and middle-row seats is easy thanks to tall openings and no obstructions. In tight spots, the relatively short doors can open wide so you don't have to squeeze in. Third-row access does require a short but inelegant crawl.

Driving position

8.5
Space and seat adjustments ensure that just about anyone can find a comfortable driving position. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has enough travel to please taller drivers, and armrests are right where they should be to provide appropriate support.

Roominess

7.0
The CX-9 feels larger inside than its exterior suggests, and its front and middle rows easily accommodate larger passengers. The third row has enough space to prevent claustrophobia, but a low cushion and tight headroom make it best suited for kids and smaller adults.

Visibility

7.5
Generous forward and side visibility, but thickish front roof pillars can obstruct the view somewhat through tight turns. The rear view is compromised by broad rear pillars and a small rear window, but it's no worse than in a typical SUV in its class.

Quality

9.0
The Signature trim makes use of interior materials that are usually reserved for premium luxury vehicles. Every surface has a solid, quality feel, the gaps are uniform and tight, and the paint looks fantastic. This is as nice an SUV as you'll get in the class.

Utility

7.0
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.

Small-item storage

7.0
You'll find numerous interior storage cubbies for your personal items. The door pockets are good-sized and have indents that hold large water bottles.

Cargo space

7.5
We found the CX-9's cargo capacity to be sufficient at 14.4 cubic feet behind the third row and 71.2 cubic feet with all the seats folded, but others in the class offer more. On the plus side, it has a flat cargo floor that makes it easy to load bulky items.

Towing

Towing capacity maxes out at 3,500 pounds, which is on the low side of average among competing three-row SUVs. The Class II hitch and wiring harness are sold together as an after-purchase accessory.

Technology

8.0
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 prevent false alarms.

Audio & navigation

8.0
The Bose stereo (standard on Grand Touring trim and above) delivers clear and powerful audio. And the audio and navigation interface is one of the best in the industry thanks to its sharp and well-placed screen, thoughtful menu structure and a controller that's easy to learn and use.

Smartphone integration

8.0
Smartphones are easy to pair and quick to be recognized on startup. There are also plenty of USB ports to keep everyone's devices charged. Unfortunately Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.

Driver aids

8.5
Advanced safety features such as forward collision warning and lane keeping assist are well-tuned to areas with heavy traffic. False alarms are rare, and the systems function as expected when needed.

Voice control

8.0
Voice recognition is accurate, and on-screen prompts simplify use. Using voice commands to enter an address is as easy as with any other system.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.9 / 10
Driving8.5
Comfort8.0
Interior8.0
Utility7.0
Technology8.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Mazda CX-9.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

love the car except....
Milan,12/18/2017
Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Love the car. Much better than my 2010 Mazda6. I have only one issue so far - driver's seating position. I am 6,4 about 210 pounds. I am still to find a comfortable position. I think that comfort can be easily improved if the telescopic steering wheel could be pulled a bit more towards driver. Other than that, the car drives and looks great! We are making 24-26 mpg, combined - 70% highway, 30% city. We test drove Toyota Highlander, and although Toyota put more thought into practicality and space designed particularly for families, I simply didn't like the driving feel. Reminded me of the van we had. Mazda's storage, compared to Highlander, isn't great, but in my opinion is still plenty for a family of four. The car's style and drive feel won. update: 40,000 miles. Runs great. No issues to report. Just regular maintenance. Wonderful car.
Traded Pilot for CX-9
DC,11/02/2017
Grand Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I was looking for a replacement for my 2016 Honda Pilot Touring since it did not have blind spot monitoring, the adaptive cruise control was abrupt, lane departure intervention too aggressive, and I hated the AutoStop feature. I looked into and test drove the Acadia Denali, Toyota Highlander Platinum, Nissan Pathfinder Platinum, Volvo XC60, Lexus RX350, and the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. The CX-9 was the clear winner with better pricing, great standard features, comfortable wrap around seats, great power, smooth and quiet ride, and most importantly, the most fun to drive. The CX-9 heads up display is better than the Lexus or Volvo because the CX-9 displays the blind spot monitoring info on the screen as well as the speed, adaptive cruise speed, and navigation directions. And, the heads up display is STANDARD on the Grand Touring trim and up. I love the heated steering wheel and heated seats, and my passengers love the heated seats too. The sound system is great, and the infotainment system is the most ergonomic and easy to use system out there. I never though too much about the zoom zoom commercials till I drove the Mazda CX-9, but now that I have one, I totally understand.
Word's best SUV
Mazda Guy,12/04/2017
Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Just last week, we picked the Soul Crystal Red CX9 GT with black interior. I didn't have guts to go with a red. I have to thank my wife, as she persuaded me to go with the red. Now, I realize it is a gorgeous color and gives a great modern look. It emits different shades of red, depending upon the lighting condition. The chrome piece in the front and the one in the back are a masterpiece. There are chrome accents in the sides and this is one of the best looking vehicles on the road. Even the closing of the door gives a premium feeling. The black interior is phenomenal. No plastic, plush interior with piano black and aluminum like materials in the console. Another suv, that I test drove had hard plastics all around. Then you start the car and amazed by the driver-centric features like the heads-up display, control knob, radar cruise control, etc. Heads-up display alone is enough to justify a CX 9 over other mainstream three row suvs. Speed, blind sport monitoring info, speed limits, lane info, navigation info all come in the heads up display. Naturally I only drive looking at the HUD and my neck doesn't hurt, as I don't have to look down or to the sides that often. The Bose center-point surround system is good. I only stream from my phone. It sounds great with a good base. Tried aha radio and the quality is good too. Navigation system is OK but not that user friendly. Hope Mazda will bring android auto soon, so that I can just use the google maps instead. And now the driving. It accelerates very fast from traffic lights. Usually the car in the next lane will far behind, when you have reached the posted speed. Funtastic. If you are thinking of buying a 3 row, do not wait. Just go and buy one. Bet, you will be delighted like me.
CX-9 -Best 3row-
Mike,12/04/2017
Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
My wife and I recently got our CX-9 Touring AWD w/premium package, and I’ve gotta say I’m thoroughly impressed. I was sort of iffy about it at first, since we have always hated automatics, but after the first test drive, we were sold. This is by far the best feeling automatic transmission ever. No jerking, awkward and inconvenient downshifts (thanks mostly to that crazy amount of low RPM torque, I know), or that weird floaty feeling that’s very hard to describe that would always make me car sick in other automatics. The engine is fantastic too. I test drove the Highlander and Pilot before getting the CX-9, and those two felt sluggish during acceleration even though they had 6-cylinder engines. They were turds compared to the Skyactiv 4-cyl. I’ve played around with all the settings and features in it, the MZD Connect, moonroof, traction/stability, the butt toaster, climate control, etc, every button and switch in there, and I have 0 complaints. No need for Android Auto/Apple Car Play, the current HMI system is very user friendly and pretty much perfect. I also tried sitting in every seat and row. At 5’7”, average build, and setting every seat at a position I would set it at, I fit very comfortably in every seat in all 3 rows. So, as long as every person in your family isn’t like 6’5”, they should fit. The Pilot had great space as well, but the interior itself was bland as hell and not very user friendly. The Highlander, on the other hand, I busted my shin and shoulder trying to get into the 3rd row (and getting out of the 2nd row with the seat adjusted to accommodate a 3rd row passenger my size, might I add), and my head was also bumping the ceiling while sitting back there. Lastly, the CX-9 is the first “tank” we’ve ever gotten, and it definitely doesn’t drive like one, unlike the other two mentioned. It’s like a Mazda3, only higher off the ground, which you don’t even notice that until a sedan rolls up next to you lol. Anyways, it’s definitely worth every penny, and you should most definitely give it a go if you’re looking to get a SUV. Heck, even if you aren’t, give Mazda a try as a brand. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed no matter which model you try out. ;)

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
227 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
227 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
227 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
Seats 7
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
227 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 features & specs

Safety

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.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover15.9%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Mazda CX-9

Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 Overview

The Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 is offered in the following submodels: CX-9 SUV. Available styles include Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Grand Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Signature 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Sport 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Mazda CX-9?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 Touring is priced between $25,000 and$29,875 with odometer readings between 16982 and51716 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is priced between $27,800 and$31,500 with odometer readings between 25820 and45552 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature is priced between $30,000 and$34,475 with odometer readings between 23144 and38512 miles.

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Which used 2018 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) 2018 Mazda CX-9 for sale near. There are currently 23 used and CPO 2018 CX-9s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $25,000 and mileage as low as 16982 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 2018 Mazda CX-9.

Can't find a used 2018 Mazda CX-9s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda CX-9 for sale - 7 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $8,614.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $7,461.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda CX-9 for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $20,826.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $13,088.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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