Mazda CX-9

Model Overview

The three-row CX-9 is Mazda’s entry in the big-family-hauler space, with an emphasis on driving dynamics and style. The CX-9 doesn’t offer as much space as competitors like the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, but its turbocharged four-cylinder engine and sharply-honed suspension make it the enthusiast’s pick over seven-seaters like the Toyota Highlander and Kia Sorento.


The CX-9 dates back to the days when Mazda was still under Ford’s stewardship: The first-generation Mazda CX-9 was introduced in 2007 and was closely related to the Ford Edge, with both SUVs riding on the jointly-developed CD3 platform. In our First Drive of a CX-9, we praised the torque of its stout 3.5 liter V-6, contrasting it with the turbo 2.3 in the smaller CX-7 (“adios, rubberbandy turbo lag”). “Mazda’s showing some chutzpah in calling the CX-9 the Zoom-Zoom with Extra Room,” we said, “but is it a terrific new crossover? Yes-yes.”

The ’07 CX-9 wasn’t eligible for our 2007 Sport/Utility of the Year award—it went on sale after the cut-off date—but the 2008 version, updated with a Mazda-built version of Ford’s new 3.7 liter V-6, took the 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year title. The CX-9 was, we said, “Mazda’s finest demonstration of infusing sports-car qualities into an SUV…Not only did Mazda do its research, creating an SUV with the ideal balance of sport, utility, and style, but it built the benchmark of the three-row crossover class. Move the needle like that, in the most important, competitive SUV segment, and you take home the calipers.”

The Mazda CX-9 was still going strong in 2011, taking first place in a Motor Trend comparison of six three-row SUVs. Ed Loh summed up the CX-9’s path to victory: “A truly excellent package with no major strikes against it.” But just three years later, the shine had faded: The CX-9 placed dead last in our 2014 three-row SUV comparison test. “It’s no longer a runaway fun favorite, and its age is more apparent than ever.” Clearly, it was time for something new.

The Latest Generation

Mazda showed us something very new at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show: An all-new CX-9, designed entirely in-house, and—like the CX-7 before it—using a Mazda-designed turbocharged four-cylinder engine, this time displacing 2.5 liters. We drove a camouflaged prototype and concluded that “this new family machine might reset the bar for fun-to-drive, efficient family transportation.” And our First Drive of a production model proved that to be true. We loved the styling, inside and out—but “At its heart,” we wrote, “this carpool cruiser is an enthusiast.”

Why You’d Consider One

The Mazda CX-9’s exterior and interior styling make it a stand-out, and its driving dynamics deliver everything you expect from a Mazda.

Why You’d Look Elsewhere

Real-world fuel economy isn’t as good as the EPA estimates would lead you to believe.

Body Types: SUV/Crossover
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Other Mazda Models


25 City / 33 Hwy*


25 City / 31 Hwy*


26 City / 35 Hwy*


26 City / 35 Hwy*


26 City / 34 Hwy*

*EPA mileage varies based on a number of factors including but not limited to model, drivetrain, transmission and bodystyle. Actual mileage varies.