AAA Magazines

Mazda CX-9: plenty of power

The Mazda CX-9 is a classy midsize SUV that looks and performs way above its pay grade. Photo courtesy of Mazda

Mazda’s CX-9, the automaker’s largest crossover SUV, has a multitude of virtues and hardly any shortcomings. The Mazda brand isn’t as well known as Toyota, Honda, Ford, or Subaru, but its cars and SUVs don’t take a backseat to any of those marques. The CX-9 was fully redesigned for 2016 and has been updated slightly each year since (for example, improvements to noise reduction and infotainment, and more standard safety features). 

For starters, if the CX-9’s looks don’t knock you over at first glance, you’d better check yourself for a pulse. No slab-sided SUV, its lines are at once bold, dynamic, understated, and refined. Stellar design elements extend to the tasteful, well-appointed interior, with its good-looking, functional controls. The cabin has a rich feel, approaching entry-level luxury status on the upper trim levels.

Mazda’s attention to detail verges on obsessive: Examples include nickel-plated covers on the driver’s power-seat controls, which provide a satiny feel, and 53 pounds of extra under-carpet insulation plus a dual-pane windshield and front windows to reduce cabin noise. Backseat room is ample, though third-row seating and cargo and towing capacity (maximum 71 cubic feet and 3,500 pounds, respectively) lag behind the competition (note: Those are the only shortcomings). 

Just one engine is available, but it’s a winner: a 2.5-liter turbo 4 that produces 250 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque for plenty of low-end grunt. Fuel economy is decent, too: 24 mpg in combined city/highway driving for the FWD version and 23 mpg for AWD. Low-speed forward automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning are standard on all CX-9s; higher trims levels are equipped with additional advanced safety features. 

 “Driving Matters,” goes the Mazda credo, and the CX-9 proves itself here, too. The steering is quick and precise, and the ride feels solid, smooth, quiet, and composed, finding a nice balance between responsiveness and comfort. 

Summing up, the CX-9 delivers what most driving enthusiasts want—and few SUVs deliver—good looks, plenty of power, drivability, enough cargo space, commendable fuel economy, and high value. 

Model years: 2016–2019
Vehicle layout: Midsize three-row SUV, 2.5-liter turbo inline 4 (227 hp), 6-speed automatic, FWD/AWD 
MSRP: $33,275 (base), $47,845 (well equipped)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 22/28/24 (FWD), 20/26/23 (AWD)
Crash-test ratings: Top Safety Pick for 2018–2019
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Spare tire: Temporary spare 
Final assembly: Japan 

For more reviews, go to a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle with AAA’s free Car Buying Service. Go to or call (800) 709-7222.

Follow us on Instagram

Follow @AAAAutoClubEnterprises for the latest on what to see and do.

Read more articles

You'll find more of the articles you love to read at AAA Insider.

Automotive offers & deals

AAA mechanic

AAA Approved Auto Repair

Search approximately 7,000 AAA Approved facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

AAA mobile battery service

AAA Mobile Battery Service

AAA provides a convenient testing and replacement service that comes to you.

NAPA Auto Parts store exterior

Automotive discounts

Use your AAA membership to unlock do-it-yourself car-care discounts.

Teen driver learning to drive

Teen driving resources

AAA cares about your teen’s safety and wants to help them develop safe driving habits.

back to top icon