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2018 Mazda CX-9 Review

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 ranks near the top of the midsize SUV class. The CX-9 has a luxurious cabin, pleasant handling, great safety scores, and an above-average predicted reliability rating.

Pros & Cons

  • Luxurious cabin
  • Fun to drive
  • Punchy, fuel-efficient engine
  • Great safety scores
  • Cramped third row

New for 2018

  • Blind spot monitoring and low-speed forward collision warning became standard

Rankings & Research

The 2018 Mazda CX-9's #3 ranking is based on its score within the 2018 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Mazda CX-9 has a score of 8.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 29 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.9
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.3
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Mazda CX-9 Overview

Is the 2018 Mazda CX-9 a Good Used SUV?

Yes, the Mazda CX-9 is a very good used midsize SUV. Its mix of refinement, performance, and everyday practicality make it a compelling option in this class.

The 2018 CX-9 has many highlights:

  • Elegant interior with seven seats over three rows
  • High-end cabin materials
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Wide array of active safety features
  • Athletic handling and a comfortable ride
  • A punchy turbocharged engine
  • Good fuel economy

However, it does have its drawbacks:

  • Less cargo space than many rivals
  • Slim third-row seats are best reserved for kids

If you need a family-friendly SUV with more cargo room and seating space, consider the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse or 2018 Honda Pilot.

Compare the CX-9, Traverse, and Pilot »

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

We’ve analyzed 29 Mazda CX-9 reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability ratings and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

How Much Is the 2018 Mazda CX-9?

Based on listings for the 2018 Mazda CX-9 on our site, the average price is $29,500, which is slightly above average for the class. Prices range from $26,500 to $38,000 and vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Cost to Own?

The CX-9’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be around $25,700, or $5,140 per year. That’s about average for a midsize SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New CX-9?

The 2019 CX-9 is part of the vehicle’s second generation, which includes the 2016 to 2018 models. The 2019 CX-9 starts at around $32,300. You can save a lot of money by shopping for a used 2016 to 2018 model while still finding comparable engine performance, driving dynamics, and interior materials. That said, it may be worth upgrading to a 2019 model if you want the latest tech and safety features. The 2019 CX-9 is available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 360-degree parking camera, features that previous CX-9 models didn’t offer.

Read about the new Mazda CX-9 »

You can save even more money by shopping for a first-generation CX-9. These SUVs cover the 2007 through 2015 model years, and they offer more seating and cargo space than the newer models. However, they don’t have as many safety features, the cabin materials aren’t as nice, and fuel economy is worse. Stick with a second-generation CX-9.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 CX-9 »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Mazda CX-9?

The 2018 CX-9 has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about CX-9 reliability »

2018 Mazda CX-9 Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 CX-9.

See more information on Mazda CX-9 safety recalls »

Which Used Mazda CX-9 Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 CX-9 is available in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. The base model CX-9 Sport is a fine option because it’s so well-equipped. All CX-9 models feature a 227-horsepower engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

  • Mazda CX-9 Sport: The entry-level Sport trim comes standard with a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed forward collision warning with brake assist.
  • Mazda CX-9 Touring: The midrange Touring trim includes an 8-inch display, two more USB ports, leather upholstery, heated front seats, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a power liftgate, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic headlights. Also standard is the i-Activsense package, which includes automatic high-beam headlights, full-speed forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
  • Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring: The luxe Grand Touring trim comes with a navigation system, a Bose 12-speaker stereo, satellite radio, a moonroof, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, rear sunshades, a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, parking sensors, adaptive pivoting headlights, LED fog lights, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
  • Mazda CX-9 Signature: The high-end Signature trim comes with all-wheel drive, and it includes Nappa leather upholstery and rosewood interior accents.

See 2018 Mazda CX-9 trims and specs »

What Does Mazda's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Mazda offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Mazda extends the original limited powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles and provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty after the expiration of the original three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Every CPO Mazda must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits may include towing, a 90-day complimentary SiriusXM satellite radio trial subscription, extended coverage, and 24-hour roadside assistance, so read the Mazda warranty page carefully.

According to our research, Mazda’s CPO program is about average for an affordable auto manufacturer. Honda, Hyundai, and Kia all have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the CX-9?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the CX-9 a 2018 Top Safety Pick. The SUV received a top rating of Good in all crashworthiness tests. Properly equipped CX-9s earned the best rating of Superior for front crash prevention. Depending on the build date and trim, the CX-9’s headlights received the second-best rating of Acceptable, the second-worst rating of Marginal, or the worst rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the CX-9 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. It received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover evaluations.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • low-speed forward collision warning with brake assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • full-speed forward collision warning with brake assist
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • automatic high-beam headlights
  • adaptive pivoting headlights
  • head-up display
  • traffic sign recognition
  • front and rear parking sensors

See CX-9 safety scores »

2018 Mazda CX-9 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Mazda CX-9 or 2018 Toyota Highlander?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander shares many of the CX-9’s highlights. Both three-row SUVs have strong engine performance, good fuel economy, and lots of standard safety features. Both also rate comparably well for predicted reliability. On the other hand, neither SUV offers much space for adults in its third row, a common complaint in this segment. Opt for the CX-9 if you want a sportier driving experience and classier interior materials. Go with the Highlander if you need more cargo space. Both are fine options.

Which Is Better: 2018 Mazda CX-9 or 2018 Ford Explorer?

The 2018 Ford Explorer is a popular pick in this class, and it's available with a range of brawny engine options. However, it’s not a great buy compared to the CX-9. The Mazda rates higher for predicted reliability, and its cabin materials look much nicer. The CX-9 is also a lot more fun to drive and maneuverable than the Explorer. Stick with the Mazda.

Compare the CX-9, Highlander, and Explorer »

2018 CX-9 Performance

How Does the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Drive?

The CX-9 offers a great driving experience. The SUV feels stable around turns, and its pliant suspension does an excellent job of soaking up bumps and dips in the road, yielding a smooth ride. Additionally, responsive steering and a tight turning radius make the CX-9 rather easy to maneuver and park in tight areas. Its brakes provide confident stopping power.

All CX-9 models are equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that packs a hearty punch and easily hustles the SUV around town and up to highway speeds – even with a full complement of passengers onboard. The engine is paired with a slick six-speed automatic transmission, and it delivers prompt, smooth gear changes.

  • Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 227 horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive (AWD is standard in the Signature trim)
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Get Good Gas Mileage?

The CX-9 gets great fuel economy for a midsize SUV.

  • With FWD: 22/28 mpg city/highway
  • With AWD: 20/26 mpg
2018 Mazda CX-9 Towing Capacity

The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds, when properly equipped.

Read more about CX-9 performance »

2018 CX-9 Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 CX-9 Seat?

The Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV with seven seats. The front seats are soft and supportive, and the driving position is comfortable, even for longer trips. Both the first- and second-row seats provide ample headroom and legroom for shorter and taller passengers alike. The third row can fit two adults in a pinch, but it’s better suited for small children. The SUV’s large windows offer fine visibility to the front and side of the vehicle, though thick roof pillars create some blind spots at the rear.

The CX-9 boasts one of the nicest interiors in its segment, and in many ways it looks and feels ritzier than some luxury SUVs. The dashboard is handsomely styled, and it’s trimmed with soft-touch plastics and sleek metal accents. A number of cabin surfaces are also padded.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth seats
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel

Available seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • power-adjustable front seats
  • front and rear heated seats
  • heated steering wheel
  • rear sunshades
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Mazda CX-9?

The CX-9 has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat and third-row passenger-side seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the setup its second-best rating of Acceptable for ease of use. Some of the anchors are set too deep within the seat cushions for easy access, while others can be confused for other hardware.

2018 Mazda CX-9 Features

Every CX-9 is outfitted with a touch-screen infotainment system. This screen is located high on the dashboard, making it easy to see while driving, and it has crisp graphics and straightforward menus. There are a few ways to adjust the settings: You can tap the screen, use a knob and buttons on the center console, or use buttons on the steering wheel.

The screen does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These systems have become common in many competing vehicles, and they allow users to integrate their iPhone and Android apps with the infotainment screen.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Bluetooth, and two USB ports
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, and a 12-speaker Bose stereo
  • Additional standard features: tri-zone automatic climate control and remote keyless entry
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a power liftgate, a moonroof, and remote start

See 2018 Mazda CX-9 specs »

Read more about CX-9 interior »

2018 Mazda CX-9 Dimensions

Mazda CX-9 Cargo Space

The CX-9 has 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, 38.2 cubic feet with these seats folded, and 71.2 cubic feet with the second row folded as well. That’s a decent amount of cargo room, but most midsize SUVs offer more space, like the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Mazda CX-9 Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet, 6 inches
  • Curb weight: 4,166 to 4,361 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Built?

Mazda built the 2018 CX-9 in Japan.

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