$11,338 - $13,836

2012 Mazda CX-9 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Mazda CX-9 was new.


Performance: 8.4

Reviewers love the way the Mazda CX-9 drives, saying it handles almost as well as sport-tuned luxury SUVs like the BMW X5. This comes at the expense of some capabilities because the CX-9 can’t tow as much as many of its midsize competitors. It doesn’t have quite as much power as V8-equipped rivals like the Dodge Durango, but reviewers say they don’t mind.

  • "The engine is smooth, refined, and barely noticed while cruising and at idle.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The CX-9's only notable drawbacks are long rear doors that can be cumbersome in tight parking spots, and the ride stiffness that comes with the Grand Touring's 20-inch wheels.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 boasts a 273-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Test drivers say that this combination supplies adequate get-up-and-go, though the transmission can be less responsive than some.

According to the EPA, two-wheel drive models get 17/24 mpg city/highway, while models equipped with optional all-wheel drive net 16/22 mpg. That’s about average for the class. The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is on the low side for a crossover. The Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

  • "CX-9's V6 engine provides sufficient power in any situation. The transmission is generally alert, but it's sometimes slow to downshift for more passing punch.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the Mazda CX-9 is one of the sportiest vehicles in its class, though its athletically-tuned suspension means that its ride might be too harsh for those looking for a more comfort-tuned SUV. More than one test driver says that the optional 20-inch wheels aren’t worth the extra price, since they significantly decrease the CX-9’s ride comfort. One reviewer notes that the steering might feel too light for some, but the brakes get generally good reviews.

The CX-9 comes standard with front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is an option.

  • "Like many large crossovers, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 provides admirable road trip transportation, offering a comfortable ride on long journeys. It separates itself from the pack by driving like a smaller, more agile vehicle thanks to its precise, communicative steering and buttoned-down composure in corners.” -- Edmunds
  • “A tidy turning radius makes it easy to maneuver in tight spots, a surprise given this crossover's large overall size. Braking control is solid, though one test Grand Touring had a slightly mushy pedal feel.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "What We Don't (Like): Too-light steering effort.” -- Cars.com

Find the Best Price

Enter your zip code to get local pricing.

Get Dealer Quotes

To get dealer quotes, enter your zip code.

Search Used Listings

To search used listings, enter your zip code.

Change Location

Enter your zip code to see listings near you.

Please enter a valid zipcode

Best Price Program

Interested in a New?

Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find great deals and get upfront pricing on the.