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MSRP: $32,280 - 45,365

2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

In addition to being one of the sportiest SUVs in its class, the 2019 Mazda CX-9 boasts one of the nicest interiors in this price range. Solid safety and predicted reliability ratings help solidify the CX-9's high spot in our rankings. 

Pros & Cons

  • Powertrain is lively, polished, and fuel-efficient
  • Splendidly agile and composed
  • First-class cabin styling and materials
  • Notable list of safety and technology features
  • Less rear cargo space than many competitors
  • Below-average tow rating

New for 2019

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now available
  • Improved suspension and ride quality
  • Added sound-deadening insulation

Is the Mazda CX-9 a Good SUV?

Yes, the Mazda CX-9 is a superb SUV. Among 3-row SUVs, the CX-9 stands out for delivering the zoom-zoom performance often associated with Mazda. This fun-to-drive crossover delivers exuberant acceleration from a stop, as well as athleticism on twisty roads, yet it’s still composed enough to be a comfortable everyday vehicle. The CX-9's cabin is also exceptional, with materials and styling that are more luxurious than the typical midsize SUV.

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-9?

The CX-9 is an alluring pick for families. It offers an ample supply of entertainment features (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all but the base model), while safety features such as automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring are standard in every CX-9. Uplevel trims boast high-tech systems that include adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and a 360-degree parking camera. If you frequently fill up the back with bulky sports gear or groceries from the local wholesale club, however, you may want to instead consider a Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, or Volkswagen Atlas – each has considerably more cargo space.

Compare the CX-9, Pilot, and Traverse »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mazda CX-9?

When it comes to building an SUV that tenders a luxury-like experience without the luxury price tag, Mazda has made leaps and bounds over the years with its upper trim levels. Many opulent amenities are offered in the new CX-9, such as ventilated seats, first-class Nappa leather, and cutting-edge technology. That hasn't always been the case. Models toward the beginning of this generation (which began with the 2016 model year), including the 2016 and 2017 CX-9, didn't come with the same level of features. A suite of advanced safety features became standard for 2018, and treats like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto weren't available until 2019. That said, if these enhancements aren't important to you, you can likely save money and still get a terrific SUV by shopping for an older model.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 CX-9 »

We Did the Research for You: 26 Reviews Analyzed

Our Mazda CX-9 review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than two dozen sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision. This 2019 Mazda CX-9 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which runs from 2016 to 2019.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Mazda CX-9 Cost?

Starting prices for the 2019 CX-9 are typical for its class and range from about $32,000 to $45,000. This crossover SUV comes in four trims, including the entry-level Mazda CX-9 Sport FWD ($32,280), the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD ($42,640), and the range-topping Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD ($45,365).

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

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-9 or Honda Pilot?

The Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 are both fantastic SUVs, though there are key differences between them. If you don't want to feel weighed down by driving a hulking SUV, go for the CX-9. Its animated turbocharged engine and athletic handling create a more engaging experience than the Pilot. The CX-9 boasts an above-average predicted reliability rating, while the Pilot is subpar in that measure. For households in need of a spacious third row, an expansive cargo area, or an SUV with a decent tow rating, the Pilot is the better choice.

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-9 or Mazda CX-5?

The CX-9's smaller sibling is the Mazda CX-5. This 2-row SUV can only carry five people and, not surprisingly, has less total cargo space. Beyond the space differences, performance between the two is a toss-up, and the winner will depend on your personal preferences. The CX-9 has more energy when pulling away from a stop, but the compact size of the CX-5 has sprightlier handling.

Compare the CX-9, Pilot, and CX-5 »

CX-9 Interior

How Many People Does the CX-9 Seat?

Travelers in every zone of the seven-seat Mazda CX-9 will be content. Like many 3-row SUVs, the best seats are in the first and second rows, which are roomy and comfortable. Even adults will find it pleasant to ride in the middle row, thanks in part to reclining and sliding seat adjustments. These seats also tilt and slide to give third-row passengers easy access to their seats. The third-row bench isn't as spacious as those in the Honda Pilot or Chevrolet Traverse, but it can still accommodate grownups for a brief jaunt.

CX-9 and Car Seats

The CX-9 has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors on its second-row outboard seats. The second-row middle seat and the third-row passenger-side seat each have a tether-only connection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 CX-9's LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use, citing lower anchors that are too deep in the seats and a middle-seat tether anchor that's hard to find.

CX-9 Interior Quality

The Mazda CX-9 offers one of the nicest interiors in the class when it comes to quality and design. Reviewers frequently praise the luxury-like top trim levels, as illustrated by the high-quality leather seats, genuine rosewood inlays, aluminum trim, and surround-sound stereo. The lower editions are also well-constructed and richly furnished.

CX-9 Cargo Space

The CX-9 doesn't have as much cargo space as many other 3-row SUVs, even when you fold the rear seats flat. Its 14.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats is still enough room for all passengers to bring a large backpack or small suitcase. Plus, the cargo area is wide and flat, all but the base trim have a power liftgate, and several small-item cubbies are present throughout.

CX-9 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Mazda Connect infotainment interface – which comes in every CX-9 – is clear-cut and easy to use. The menus are organized in a simple layout, and a nice array of buttons and knobs make quick adjustments a breeze. Two USB ports, a 7-inch touch screen, and apps such as Pandora and Stitcher are standard. While the base CX-9 is attractively equipped, we recommend upgrading to higher trim levels, as these all come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (a first for the CX-9).

Read more about interior »

CX-9 Performance

CX-9 Engine: Sure to Put a Smile on Your Face

There's a reason the CX-9 is frequently recommended for drivers looking to spice up their daily commute. Its turbocharged four-cylinder engine is satisfyingly brisk, and whether you are getting up to speed or overtaking a slower vehicle, you get the impression that a V6 is powering the SUV. The CX-9 comes with a polished six-speed automatic transmission, and depending on which octane gasoline you use, cranks out either 227 or 250 horsepower.

CX-9 Gas Mileage: Pass More Gas Stations

Fuel economy is one advantage the CX-9's four-cylinder engine has over rival V6 engines. Front-wheel-drive models earn 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which are some of the highest ratings in the class. Ratings drop to 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway with AWD models.

CX-9 Ride and Handling: Fun to Drive

On the road, the CX-9 handles as if it were a much smaller vehicle, with taut steering, controlled body movements, and grin-inducing nimbleness. The standard G-Vectoring Control – a rapidly adjusting system that increases stability when cornering – is partly to thank. Additionally, Mazda retuned the CX-9's suspension for 2019, preserving the SUV's sporty dynamics while improving ride comfort.

CX-9 Dimensions and Weight

Unloaded, the CX-9 weighs between 4,217 and 4,383 pounds. It stretches about 16.6 feet in length.

CX-9 Towing Capacity

The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. That's not as much as some midsize SUVs can pull. For example, the Ford Explorer has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow trailers as heavy as 7,400 pounds.

Read more about performance »

CX-9 Reliability

Is the Mazda CX-9 Reliable?

The 2019 CX-9 has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mazda CX-9 Warranty

Mazda covers 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 2019 CX-9 has an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CX-9 the highest score of Good in all six crash tests. The SUV recieved the highest rating for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention features, and the second-highest score of Acceptable for how well the headlights illuminate the road. Those qualifications helped the CX-9 to be named a 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick, the institute's second-highest honor.

CX-9 Safety Features

Standard safety features in the CX-9 include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and Smart City Brake Support (low-speed automatic emergency braking). Mazda offers a wealth of safety upgrades, such as automatic high beams, adaptive headlights, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Smart Brake Support (forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking), Advanced Smart City Brake Support (a combination of forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection), front and rear parking sensors, a traffic sign recognition system, and a surround-view monitor.

Read more about safety »

Which Mazda CX-9 Model Is Right for Me?

Mazda presents the 2019 CX-9 in four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. Every model comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard in all but the top-of-the-line Signature AWD, and you can upgrade the lower three trims to all-wheel drive for $1,800.

For its combination of technology, advanced safety features, and price, we recommend the CX-9 Touring as the best value in the lineup. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (new features for 2019) and has leather in the first and second rows. Several high-tech safety features are added to this trim level, including advanced systems to prevent forward collisions, keep you in your lane, and maintain a safe cruising speed behind traffic in front of you.

Mazda CX-9 Sport

The entry-level CX-9 ($32,280) has premium amenities such as tri-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, dual USB ports, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and Smart City Brake Support (low-speed automatic emergency braking). Also standard is cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a rearview camera.

Mazda CX-9 Touring

An extensive number of upgrades are added to the $35,330 CX-9 Touring trim. The interior gets leather-trimmed seats in the first two rows, heated and power-adjustable front seats, an upgraded 8-inch touch-screen interface (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), and a power liftgate. Additional safety features – such as rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality – are also standard.

Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

Highlights of the CX-9 Grand Touring ($40,840) are its ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, 12-speaker Bose surround-sound system, navigation, second-row sunshades, moonroof, and aluminum trim. Added safety systems include a surround-view monitor, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a traffic sign recognition system, and front and rear parking sensors. The Grand Touring also comes with HD Radio, satellite radio, a 7-inch LCD driver's display, and a heated steering wheel.

Mazda CX-9 Signature

The CX-9 Signature is the only trim that comes standard with all-wheel drive. It also features unique styling elements, along with Nappa leather upholstery and genuine wood inlays. Pricing starts at $45,365.

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 2019 Mazda CX-9 specs and trims »

The Final Call

Whether you want a seven-seat vehicle with invigorating performance or a midsize SUV that's both affordable and premium-grade, the 2019 Mazda CX-9 is a fantastic choice. Reviewers frequently note that its lively performance and upscale cabin set the bar for the 3-row SUV segment. The CX-9 is also outstanding on the safety front. It has a lengthy list of standard and available safety features, and it posts admirable crash test results. An above-average predicted reliability rating only increases the CX-9's appeal. 

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

  • "The 2019 Mazda CX-9 goes beyond the ordinary 7-passenger, 3-row family hauler, offering a seductive exterior, luxurious interior and dynamic handling rarely found in an SUV of this size." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Fresh from a successful overhaul last year, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 continues to win over customers with its sleek styling, stunningly high-end interior and impressive fuel economy. … the new CX-9 provides families an efficient, safe, powerful and attractive way to get around, while offering the driver the kind of sportlike handling rarely found at this price point." -- Autotrader (2017)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: May 24, 2019

Weak Sales: Compared to other midsize SUVs, the Mazda CX-9 is a slow seller. So far this year, dealerships have sold 18.2% fewer CX-9 models compared to figures from the same period last year. Segment sales leaders like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Explorer are each outselling the CX-9 more than 9 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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