2023 Mazda CX-9
Story Families looking for a three-row mid-size SUV have plenty of choices. However, one cannot ignore the stylish Mazda CX-9. Its upmarket ambitions are fully on display in this handsome vehicle.
There are some changes to Mazda. Which makes us wonder whether the CX-9 is still a relevant for families looking for three-row comfort and utility?
The CX-9’s styling is the best execution of what Mazda’s KODO—Soul of Motion design language. The top edge of the grille form juts out more than the rest of the front clip, with an enlarged, chrome-encased grille flanked by small headlamp units. The lower fascia is integrated well with this front clip, creating a bold statement to anyone seeing it in their rearview mirror.
Our Signature AWD tester wore big 20-inch wheels with all-season tires. The chrome overall was tastefully done, giving the impression of upward mobility in a vehicle that is aimed at the heart of the mid-sized three-row market. The distinctive grille finishes up this luxurious SUV’s look.
In the Signature, you get perforated leather with quilted bolsters and contrast piping. All of this wrapped in some large chairs up front and two more rows of seating behind them. The front seats are very supportive with excellent power adjustments for rake, height, recline and lumbar support. The second-row seats are Captain’s Chairs with a center console similar to the one up front. They are adjustable for rake and recline with a single lever control to flip and move forward for third-row access. It also helps to have extra wide doors that open to almost 90 degrees for better overall third-row access.
As for cargo space, it starts with just 14.4 cubic feet behind the third row. Fold that row down, and you get 38.2 cubic feet of space. For larger items, the CX-9 can give up to 71.2 cubic feet of space to take it all on the road.
The instrument cluster’s screen includes the speedometer and information screen, flanked by two analog dials and two digital gauges for fuel economy data. The steering wheel offers better, more tactile switches for audio, cruise control and the information screen. On top of the center stack is a tablet-like 10.25-inch infotainment scree controlled by the Mazda Connect knob and associated buttons nearby. Every switch and control are within the driver’s reach.
Powering the CX-9 is a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This powerful and smooth engine puts down 310 pound-feet of torque. Sending power to the all-wheel drive system is the Skyactiv six-speed automatic transmission. In all, it’s a fine driveline for this vehicle. In terms of fuel economy, we averaged 22.8 MPG.
The ride quality in the new CX-9 is smooth for the family and for the driver up front. The suspension absorbs the cracks and bumps very well. Cornering is on the soft side, so expect some roll and lean, if pushed past the limit.
Steering is quite good with a softer feel on-center with a good turning radius and great response from the wheel. Expect a bit of numbness, which is expected in today’s SUVs. Brakes are very good, with great stopping power and response in normal and panic situations. Pedal feel is solid with great response to the wheels.
Pricing for the 2023 Mazda CX-9 starts at $38,750. There are five trim levels to choose from. Our top-of-the-line Signature AWD tester came with a sticker price of $50,130.
The measure of a competitor in this class is how well it fares with its rivals. The CX-9 competes in a class with the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Subaru Ascent, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas, and the new Mazda CX-90.
Some might say that one should skip the CX-9 and go with the CX-90. Since we have not driven a CX-90 yet, we still feel that the CX-9 offers plenty for those looking for a standout mid-size three-row SUV that puts down the power and offers a very smooth ride for any family adventure you give it.
Credits: CarSoup Editors