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2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is one of the most fun-to-drive vehicles in the midsize SUV class. It earns a top ranking thanks to having one of the nicest interiors in the segment, along with good safety and predicted reliability ratings.

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

Rankings & Research

The 2019 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 8.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.6
Interior: 7.6
Safety: 9.5
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Mazda CX-9 a Good SUV?

Yes, the Mazda CX-9 is an excellent midsize SUV. It delivers enthusiastic acceleration from a stop and dialed-in agility on twisty roads. A plush ride and exceptional interior materials and styling give the CX-9 an air of luxury and comfort.

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-9?

The CX-9 is an alluring pick for families and driving enthusiasts alike. We’ve extolled its performance virtues, but it offers a lot more appeal beyond that. Every CX-9 comes standard with safety technology such as forward automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring, and most trims offer an ample supply of entertainment features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other high-tech systems that include adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and a 360-degree parking camera are available in higher trims.

Those looking for more space or overall utility may want to instead consider rivals like the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, or Volkswagen Atlas. Each of these has considerably more cargo space than the CX-9, and some have roomier third-row seats.

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: 35 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 ranks lower overall than the Mazda CX-9, but it has some distinct advantages over the Mazda. The Pilot can seat up to eight people, and even its third row is spacious enough for adults. You'll also get more cargo volume with the Pilot, along with a better tow rating. You’ll want to stick with the CX-9 if performance is a high priority. The Mazda's animated turbocharged engine and athletic handling combine for more engaging performance than what the Pilot delivers. The CX-9 also has the edge in predicted reliability.

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

Just as the CX-9 ranks highly among midsize SUVs, the Mazda CX-5 earns a top spot in the compact SUV class. Choosing between these two largely comes down to how much space you need. The 2-row CX-5 only carries five people and, not surprisingly, has less total cargo space. Comparing performance between the two is largely a toss-up. Despite its size, the CX-9 has more energy when pulling away from a stop, but the smaller CX-5 has sprightlier handling and is easier to maneuver.

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 Child Car Seats

The CX-9 has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the 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 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 received 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 named the CX-9 a 2019 Top Safety Pick. The SUV received the highest score of Good in all six crash tests, and it earned the top rating of Superior for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention features. In headlight testing, the CX-9 received the second-highest score of Acceptable for forward visibility.

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: November 27, 2019

Weak Sales: Compared to other midsize SUVs, the Mazda CX-9 is one of the slowest sellers in the segment. Dealerships have sold 10.4 percent fewer CX-9 models this year compared to figures from the same period last year. Class sales leaders like the Toyota Highlander are outselling the CX-9 nearly 10 to 1. Demand has declined across Mazda’s entire lineup, with dealerships moving 10.3 percent fewer cars and SUVs so far this year compared to 2018.

Research more buying advice »
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2019 Mazda CX-9

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