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$33,960 - 46,605 MSRP

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Pros & Cons

  • Excellent gas mileage
  • Energetic, lively handling
  • Powerful engine
  • Opulent cabin
  • Small cargo hold
  • Cramped third row

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Mazda CX-9's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Mazda CX-9 has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 33 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 9.1
Interior: 7.2
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.6 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Mazda CX-9?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Mazda CX-9 a Good SUV?

Yes, the Mazda CX-9 is a great midsize SUV. It exhibits class-leading performance, with an energetic engine, stellar fuel economy ratings, and a well-balanced blend of ride comfort and sportiness. Inside, it features elegant cabin materials and intuitive infotainment controls. Other than having subpar passenger and cargo space, this crossover is a well-rounded vehicle.

Why You Can Trust Us: 33 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as cargo space dimensions, mpg ratings, and predicted reliability, as well as the opinions of the automotive press.

This 2021 CX-9 review incorporates applicable research for all vehicles in this generation, which launched for 2016.

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-9?

For a dynamic, fun-to-drive SUV, the Mazda CX-9 stands out. If you want something with more passenger and cargo room, consider the Honda Pilot or Kia Telluride. If you like the Mazda but don’t need a third row, then you might be interested in the smaller CX-5.

Find a 2021 Mazda CX-9 for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Mazda CX-9: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Mazda revamped the CX-9’s infotainment system. It now comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 10.3-inch touch screen. A Carbon Edition trim level debuts as well.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 CX-9 »

Here are the key changes for the CX-9 since Mazda redesigned it for the 2016 model year:

  • 2017: no major changes
  • 2018: gained standard blind spot monitoring and low-speed forward collision warning
  • 2019: added available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; retuned suspension
  • 2020: heated front seats and the iActivsense suite of driver assistance features became standard
  • 2021: infotainment system updated; new Carbon Edition trim joins lineup

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 CX-9, 2019 CX-9, and 2020 CX-9 reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mazda CX-9 Cost?

The Mazda CX-9 Sport has a starting MSRP of $33,960, which undercuts the retail prices of most vehicles in the class. Prices rise to $46,605 for the top-of-the-line Signature trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

Mazda CX-9 Versus the Competition

Mazda CX-9 vs. Toyota Highlander

If you want a midsize SUV that can carry eight people or has a bit more cargo room, then the Toyota Highlander is a better option than the Mazda. Otherwise, the CX-9 is the superior vehicle, thanks largely to its nicer cabin materials and more engaging handling.

Compare the CX-9 and Highlander »

Mazda CX-9 vs. Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade is another great vehicle in the class. It eclipses the Mazda in terms of space, providing adult-friendly third-row seating and more cargo room behind every row. Both vehicles have lavish cabins and capable handling, though the CX-9 gets the edge for sportiness. The Mazda gets better fuel economy too. However, the Hyundai costs around $1,450 less to buy. There’s no wrong choice between these two.

Compare the CX-9 and Palisade »

Compare the CX-9, Highlander, and Palisade »

CX-9 Interior: High-End, Low Space

CX-9 Cargo Space

Cargo space in this Mazda lags other three-row SUVs. It has 14.4 cubic feet of space with all the seats up, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and a total of 71.2 cubic feet with both rear rows folded down. Both the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander have around 82 to 84 cubic feet of maximum space. Both a power liftgate and a hands-free liftgate are available.

How Many People Does the CX-9 Seat?

The CX-9 is a three-row SUV that can seat six or seven people, depending on whether you get a model with a second-row bench seat or captain’s chairs. Getting the available sliding and reclining second-row seats makes it easier to access the third row, but the space back there is incredibly tight. The first and second rows are roomier, and the cabin is well-insulated from road and wind noise.

Cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat are standard. Upgrades include leather or premium leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.

CX-9 and Child Car Seats

This vehicle has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second-row outboard seats and a tether anchor for the third-row passenger-side seat.

CX-9 Interior Quality

So many nice materials fill the CX-9’s cabin that critics compare it favorably to a luxury vehicle from brands like Lexus or Audi. Higher trims have real wood inlays and aluminum accents.

CX-9 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Using the MazdaConnect infotainment system is easy. The touch screen is large and responsive, with clear graphics. It’s accompanied by well-placed physical controls.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 10.3-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: a navigation system, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, four more USB ports, satellite radio, and a 12-speaker Bose stereo
  • Additional standard features: push-button start and tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry and a moonroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

CX-9 Performance: Class Leader

CX-9 Engine

Every CX-9 has a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Horsepower and torque vary depending on which octane fuel you use. With regular gas, the turbo-four makes 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Premium gasoline ups those figures to 250 and 320, respectively.

This turbocharged engine holds its own against the V6s that power most rivals. Whether you’re driving in the city or on the highway, it produces plenty of power. Some critics praise the transmission for its seamless shifts, but others note that they would prefer to see an eight-speed automatic instead of the CX-9’s six-speed.

CX-9 Gas Mileage

The 2021 CX-9 with front-wheel drive gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those are some of best ratings in the class. Adding all-wheel drive lowers both figures by 2 mpg.

CX-9 Ride and Handling

Few midsize SUVs are as fun to drive as this Mazda, thanks to composed cornering ability and well-weighted, accurate steering. The ride is generally comfortable too, although getting the larger alloy wheels can firm it up a bit. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

CX-9 Towing Capacity

The CX-9 has a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Most rivals can tow around 5,000 pounds.

Read more about performance »

CX-9 Reliability

Is the Mazda CX-9 Reliable?

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Mazda CX-9 Warranty

Mazda backs the CX-9 with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

CX-9 Safety

CX-9 Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Mazda CX-9 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not evaluated the 2021 CX-9 as of this writing.

CX-9 Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control

Available advanced safety features:

  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Driver attention monitor
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Adaptive headlights

Read more about safety »

CX-9 Dimensions and Weight

The CX-9 is 16.6 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,225 to 4,388 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Mazda CX-9 Built?

Mazda builds the 2021 CX-9 in Japan.

Which Mazda CX-9 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 comes in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature. The Sport is well-equipped with tech and safety features, but you can get more comfort add-ons by moving to the Touring trim.

Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive is available for $1,900 in every trim but the Signature, where it comes standard.

Mazda CX-9 Sport

The Mazda CX-9 Sport has a starting MSRP of $33,960. It comes standard with the Mazda Connect infotainment system, a 10.3-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and alloy wheels.

You’ll also get Mazda’s iActivsense suite of driver assistance features, which comes with lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Mazda CX-9 Touring

Retailing for $35,750, the CX-9 Touring adds two second-row USB ports, leather-trimmed seats, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, proximity keyless entry, and a power liftgate.

The Touring Premium package costs $2,060. It adds wireless device charging, a 12-speaker premium Bose stereo, satellite radio, two third-row USB ports, front and rear parking sensors, a moonroof, and the option to swap the second-row bench seat for captain’s chairs.

Mazda CX-9 Carbon Edition

All-new for 2021, the Carbon Edition has a retail price of $41,080. In addition to the contents of the Touring Premium package (including the captain’s chairs), the Carbon Edition gains ventilated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, reverse automatic emergency braking, a driver condition monitor, adaptive headlights, paddle shifters, and a hands-free liftgate.

Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

Grand Touring models have a starting MSRP of $41,940. This trim builds off the Touring and gains the Carbon Edition’s equipment, minus its styling tweaks and standard captain’s chairs. The Grand Touring also picks up navigation, traffic sign recognition, and a surround-view parking camera system.

Mazda CX-9 Signature

The range-topping Mazda CX-9 Signature starts at $46,605. It comes with just about everything you can get in this vehicle, including Nappa leather seats, aluminum accents, real wood trim, and distinctive stitching for the steering wheel.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

See 2021 Mazda CX-9 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Mazda CX-9 stands out from other midsize SUVs because of its lively performance. With a robust engine and sharp handling, this crossover is fun to drive, and it boasts great mpg ratings too. Straightforward infotainment controls and elegant cabin materials further boost its appeal. There are more practical options for passengers and cargo, but the CX-9 is still a great vehicle.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 Mazda CX-9 is a midsize 3-row crossover/SUV for people who would much rather buy a sport sedan. And they would have done as well if it wasn’t for those pesky kids. It’s a rare machine that can be family-friendly and driver-friendly at the same time, but the CX-9 has pulled it off. There are rivals with more powerful engines and more interior space, but nothing drives in quite the same fluid way as a Mazda, and that includes the CX-9." -- Autotrader
  • "Rivals such as the also-excellent Kia Telluride and its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, offer more passenger and cargo space, but the CX-9 remains one of our favorite SUVs to recommend to those who value athletic handling and driver engagement as much as we do." -- Car and Driver
  • "All in all, the CX-9 provides a welcome alternative from the herd of similar three-row family SUVs. Its upscale feel and satisfying road manners are pluses, even if the car falls short on some details. The CX-9 shines brighter on the road than it does in a spec-chart comparison." -- Consumer Reports (2020)
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