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2019 Mazda CX-9 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.9

Mazda's are renowned for dynamic performance, and the 2019 CX-9 is no different. Though this is a sizable SUV, it drives as if it were a smaller vehicle. Its handling is nimble and composed, and ride comfort has been amplified for 2019. The CX-9's turbocharged engine is always ready to play, and it gets better gas mileage than most 3-row rivals.

  • The CX-9's lightweight body and sophisticated G-Vectoring technology are responsible for the SUV's impressive cornering abilities, yet despite its athletic prowess, the ride never gets harsh or jarring. However, while the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine can move the CX-9 with authority, it can't tow as much as most 6-cylinder rivals, and its fuel economy isn't all that much better." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Where the CX-9 really impresses is behind the wheel. The steering is amazingly precise and on center, and the ride is smooth over most surfaces. … The cabin is well-isolated from exterior road noise, and wind and engine noise are barely noticeable even at high speeds." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The CX-9 is by a large margin, to me, the best-driving vehicle in this segment." -- Cars.com (2016)

Acceleration and Power

Powering the 2019 CX-9 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain cranks out 227 horsepower (250 horsepower with 93-octane premium gasoline). Though these figures may not seem impressive, the CX-9 is no slouch: It accelerates with gusto, quickly launching you from a stop or tendering extra oomph when merging on to the highway. Additionally, you can carry a full load in the CX-9 without noticing a discernable slow down.

Even with its lively power, the CX-9 gets great gas mileage. Its EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway is among the highest fuel economy ratings in our midsize SUV rankings.

What the CX-9 doesn't do as well is haul heavy trailers, and more than a dozen class rivals can out-tow it. When properly equipped, the CX-9 has a maximum tow rating of 3,500 pounds.

  • "…while the CX-9's turbocharged 4-cylinder isn't exactly brimming with horsepower, its impressive 310 lb-ft of torque help move this big SUV with gusto, even when loaded down with passengers and cargo." -- Kelley Blue Book
  •  +"The CX-9's 2.5-liter turbo four is an absolute gem of an engine, perfectly matched with its 6-speed automatic transmission; if you have concerns about a four-cylinder utility, go drive a CX-9 -- with seven passengers aboard the Mazda has no problem blasting up on-ramps and passing slower traffic without straining. Ditch the weight and it's downright quick, with trademark Mazda steering response and chassis composure on all surfaces. Plus the CX-9 returned a real-world 23.9 mpg in 60/40 highway/city driving." -- Autoweek (2018)
  • "The CX-9 moves out quickly when you press on the accelerator, yet the pedal is smooth and easy to regulate. The smart-shifting transmission executes smooth shifts that are made quickly when they need to be." -- Edmunds (2018)

Handling and Braking

The CX-9 is one of the most athletic SUVs in the class. Its precise steering, artfully tuned suspension system, and strong brakes inspire confidence and create an enjoyable ride for enthusiastic drivers. The lower CX-9 trims are front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is available for $1,800. The range-topping CX-9 Signature comes standard with all-wheel drive.

  • "Mazda's line of cars and SUVs has always had a special something that makes them stand apart from everything else in their price range, and the 2019 Mazda CX-9 is no exception. Compared to rivals like the Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse, the CX-9 rides and corners like it's glued to the road, with precise steering requiring minimal effort to affect course change. The retuned suspension retains its impressive cornering ability, but now returns a gentler ride over rough pavement. Helping with cornering is Mazda's G-Vectoring Control that improves steering feel by varying torque and optimizing load control." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The CX-9 has good straight-ahead stability on the highway and delivers crisp response when turning. It maintains a good sense of connection with the driver, and steering effort builds nicely as it bends into corners. Excellent among SUVs and better than some sedans." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Mazda's hallmark is balanced performance, and CX-9 lives up to that with a very nimble suspension. … Standard electronic features like Roll Stability Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control make the ride even more secure." -- Forbes (2017)
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