$24,723 - $33,079

2017 Mazda CX-9 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mazda CX-9 was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.9

Few people would think driving a seven-passenger, 3-row SUV could be a fun experience, but the 2017 Mazda CX-9 proves it can be. It's easily the nimblest SUV in the class, with precise steering and a well-modulated suspension that help it stay composed and confident through curves. It may not have the most powerful engine in the class, but its grunt is enough for most daily driving situations. Plus, you get top-tier fuel economy compared to rivals.

  • "Simply put, the Mazda CX-9 is the most fun-to-drive SUV in its class. As with other Mazdas, the CX-9 isn't the segment's most powerful, but its taut handling and turbocharged engine imbue this crossover SUV with athletic flair." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The previous generation of the CX-9 was my favorite member of this class to drive, and the new one is somehow even sharper. Mazda consistently does 'driving feel' better than pretty much any other automaker, and the CX-9 is no exception." -- Cars.com (2016)
  • "Along the beautiful twisty mountain roads just north of San Francisco, the CX-9 drives like a much smaller vehicle, more station-wagon-like in its look and over-the-road feel than a hulking crossover." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 CX-9 comes with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 227 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is paired with the turbo four-cylinder.

The CX-9 earns some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class, getting up to 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Opting for an all-wheel-drive CX-9 will drop fuel economy to 20 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, which will cost you around $50 more in fuel costs each year.

The turbo four-cylinder isn't the most powerful engine in the class, but it should be adequate for most drivers. It shines at low speeds, delivering brisk acceleration from a stop so you can easily zip through traffic around town. Even on the highway, the engine is usually OK, but it can feel a bit strained under a full load of passengers and cargo. Unlike some rivals, the CX-9 is not available with a more powerful engine. The transmission makes smooth, quick shifts.

  • "The 2017 Mazda CX-9 uses a small but potent 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that packs 310 lb-ft of torque. That low-end torque, combined with sophisticated plumbing for the turbo system, makes this engine feel plenty strong, like a V6 in disguise." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The engine and transmission combination delivers ultra-smooth operation, with sufficient kick from the turbo to introduce some driving excitement." -- Forbes
  • If you're the type likely to fill a crossover to the brim with people and cargo, the CX-9 probably isn't your best bet. It's a 4,300-pound vehicle with just 227 horsepower (on 87 octane, at least). In part-throttle situations and typical around-town speeds, the CX-9's turbo four feels adequate, and mostly like a larger powerplant. When push comes to shove, though, we'd prefer more horsepower, especially when merging onto the highway with a full load of passengers and cargo." -- Autoblog (2016)

Ride, Handling, and Braking

Mazda has a reputation for making sporty, fun-to-drive vehicles like the MX-5 Miata. The CX-9 is the biggest Mazda on the road, and it still manages to pack in the driving thrills despite its large size. This is one of the sportiest large 3-row crossovers available. The CX-9's sharp steering and well-tuned suspension make it nimble around corners, yet still comfortable and easy to pilot during the daily commute or while hauling the kids to school.

Front-wheel drive is standard in the CX-9. You can get all-wheel drive for better traction in inclement weather or even sharper performance through turns.

  • "There's just enough body roll in the corners to let you feel what the crossover is doing beneath you without feeling tippy, and the steering offered ample feedback for confidence with just the right amount of weight. It's steering that feels sporty and responsive, without requiring Popeye muscles to make a turn." -- Cars.com (2016)
  • "Ride quality and overall serenity has also been improved. The suspension ably soaks up imperfections, and the interior is quieter than ever. The 50 extra pounds of sound-deadening material paid off." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "When the going got twisty, the CX-9 held its line well. The steering felt crisp and the braking sharp. The new all-wheel-drive system also uses a predictive program to allow the CX-9 to recognize road conditions and adjust the power distribution before the driver even notices the adjustments." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)

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