Do you need a three-row crossover but also want zippy driving dynamics? Check out the Mazda CX-9. It has seating for seven passengers, an upscale interior, and surprisingly nimble handling for the class.
The CX-9 was introduced in 2006. It got a makeover for the 2016 model year. For 2017, it’s basically the same except that Mazda’s Smart city Brake Support is now standard on the Touring trim level.
The CX-9 is available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature trims. Starting prices range from $31,520 to $44,315. Front wheel drive is standard on the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims and all-wheel-drive is available. AWD is standard on the Signature trim.
The Mazda CX-9 is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine that makes 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic. Acceleration is quick off the line, steering is tight and it corners pretty well. All in all, it’s pretty fun to drive—chances are you’ll forget that you’re behind the wheel of a three-row crossover. However, if the CX-9 is loaded down with passengers and gear for a family road trip, you’ll notice a decline in performance. Otherwise, it’s a very pleasant daily driver for taking the kids to school and piano lessons and driving to and from work.
Fuel efficiency is very good for the class. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23 mpg. I got 22 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Front-wheel-drive models are rated at 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24 mpg.
The interior is upscale and rivals what you’d find in some luxury crossovers. It’s also very quiet; Mazda points out that there are more than 53 pounds of sound-deadening mats installed below the floor.
The first two rows boast good leg- and headroom. The second row seats slide and recline so your passengers can find the most comfy positions.
Getting into the third row is pretty easy; in fact, kids should have no trouble doing it themselves. And it’s fairly roomy for a third row; even average-sized adults will be comfortable.
The Mazda Connect Infotainment system is standard on the CX-9. It’s user friendly and also has knobs and buttons, making it easy to do things like change radio stations and adjust climate settings. However it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles offered by many rivals; for example, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The CX-9 has 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space with all three rows of seating in place; 38.2 cubes with the third row down and 71.2 cubes with both rows folded. This is below average for the class. And you can’t fold down the second-row from the back—you have to do it from the side doors. The CX-9 does have a power liftgate with adjustable height.
When properly equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Mazda zoom-zoom handling
Very good fuel efficiency for the class
Lots of available driver safety features
The not so good:
Cargo room is below average for the class
No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
My tester starts at $42,270. All-weather floor mats are $200. Snowflake white pearl mice paint charge is $200. Delivery fee is $940 bringing the grand total to $43,610.
If you’re looking for a three-row crossover that’s actually fun to drive and has an upscale interior, you’ll want to check out the CX-9.