By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
In a world that regularly tells us we can't have our cake and eat it, too, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV is a welcome exception to the rule. The 7-passenger 2012 Mazda CX-9 combines the attributes of a luxury performance sedan with the functionality and versatility of an SUV. Having won numerous awards year after year, the Mazda CX-9 SUV continues to impress with its styling, features and reliability. Built from the same platform that spawned the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKT, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 is the last of the global platform designs shared between Ford and Mazda. As such, the CX-9 benefits from the best resources and ideas of two automotive giants versus one. In the 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV, you'll get the safety, comfort and strong resale value every family wants, but in a vehicle that also delights the senses and awakens the driver in all of us.
Some may find the 2012 Mazda CX-9's third-row seat too small for full-size folks, and its limited towing ability won't serve those who need to pull trailers exceeding 3,500 pounds.
There are no major changes for 2012.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV delivers good acceleration and demonstrates impressive handling, so long as the passenger load is not maxed out. With a full crew onboard, the CX-9's suspension...seems to bog down a bit and its V6 engine has to work hard to achieve the same sporty feeling you get with just four passengers. To be fair, we can say the same about every one of the CX-9's competitors. We will say that despite the 2012 Mazda CX-9's size and weight, it really does get around curves and hug the road like a smaller vehicle with a lower center of gravity. Credit for this handling performance goes to the CX-9's rigid unit-body chassis, low-friction MacPherson strut front and independent multi-link rear suspension, precise engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering and thick stabilizer bars at both ends. On the freeway, the CX-9 rewards its passengers with a comfortable ride, a fairly quiet cabin and a host of appealing features (such as the available rear-seat DVD entertainment system) to keep everyone happy on long trips.
60/40-Split, Sliding, Reclining Second-Row Seat
This versatile center-row seat slides five inches to accommodate long-legged folks either on or behind it. The seat also has reclining backrests, offers easy access to the third row with a one-handed release and folds flat into the floor to optimize cargo room.
Active Torque-Split All-Wheel-Drive
On available all-wheel-drive (AWD) models, sensors signal control modules to automatically send more torque to the axle with the best traction. Up to half the engine's torque can be sent to the rear through a computer-controlled coupling connected to the rear differential.
Mazda is renowned for its inviting, user-friendly interiors and the 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV has about as nice an interior design as you'll find. Bordering on luxury-car plush, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 pampers its occupants and gives full control to its driver via the well-placed switchgear and brightly-lit, information-filled gauge cluster. The center stack is raised from the dash and flanked by two wood trim "spears" that also appear on the door panels. Thankfully, Mazda's annoying miniature navigation and information screen didn't make its way to the CX-9's cabin. When you order the available navigation system, you get a nice big view screen and controls that are easy to understand and use. As is typical in Mazda cars, the seating is superbly supportive without being overly-bolstered and the thick-grip three-spoke steering wheel feels just right. Rear-seat passengers enjoy equally-comfortable accommodations with a 60/40 second-row seat that can recline as well as slide forward for easier third-row access. Speaking of the third row, it's a place best suited to small kids, as the 50/50 seats are a bit thin and upright. When not in use, the CX-9's third-row seat folds flat into the floor, creating a large cargo area.Exterior
Some look at the 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV and see what appears to be a stretched version of the sporty CX-7. But, actually, the two have no common components and don't even share the same platform. While it's true the CX-9 is both longer and heavier than the CX-7, it retains the same sleek exterior inspired by the RX-8 sports car. Much of Mazda's previous design language is still in place on the CX-9 and, for those not happy with the new look of Mazda (think Mazda3), this may be a good thing. The grille opening remains minimal, a 5-point design stretched wide across the front bumper, while the large black plastic lower air intake is outfitted with a chrome center bar. The 2012 Mazda CX-9's look is completed with a set of wraparound headlights and, around back, the broad-shouldered tail is fitted with curving tail lights and twin trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips. Long rear doors are designed to create an easier access point for those heading to the third-row seat, although it's still a bit of a squeeze to get back there. The CX-9's long roof is the perfect perch for equipment or a cargo container.
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The base Sport comes with three-row, 7-passenger seating, power windows, locks and mirrors, tilt wheel, cruise control, AM/FM/CD audio, front and rear air conditioning, remote keyless entry and six sets of airbags (front, side and full-length side curtain). Additional safety features include 4-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The mid-range Touring and top-line Grand Touring add leather trim, power front seats and more.
Major options available on the CX-9 include SiriusXM Satellite Radio, DVD-based touch-screen navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring System, Surround Sound Bose premium audio with a 6-CD changer (single disc when combined with navigation), rear DVD entertainment system, keyless entry and start, 4.3-inch view screen with rear backup camera and a power rear liftgate. All-wheel drive is an important functional option.
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 SUV's 3.7-liter V6 is shared with former partner Ford and, as such, benefits from what might be argued is over-engineering. From its aluminum cylinder heads to its performance-oriented 10.3:1 compression ratio, the CX-9's V6 engine is a masterpiece of power and efficiency. The V6 sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission or to all four wheels with Mazda's available Active Torque-Split all-wheel-drive.
273 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 16/22 (AWD)
By sandy on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,490overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "is really fun to drive and very comfortable"
Cons: "steering could be tighter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"my only complaint is that the brakes will chatter when they get hot. not really comfortable braking when it feels like the antilock system is on, which it is not. also I find the steering is not as precise as I would prefer. I seem to make a fair amount of corrections when driving on a smooth toll road at maybe 65mph other than that the car is really quick and fast. and the 20" tires that came with the car are pretty unforgiving on the road, and are already showing signs of wear and drying out at under 16,000mi..I hope to replace them with something other than a high performance tire down the road."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Tim on Friday, October 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "trouble free,comfortable, roomy"
Cons: "I have yet to find a problem"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my Mercedes for one of the first CX-7's, which was an outstanding car, but ended up being too small and my wife wanted the 3rd row. I have since purchased 3 CX-9s. I drive a lot throughout California and put a ton of miles on my car and after driving for six or seven hours, I do not feel tired or sore from sitting. It is fun to drive and has all the power I need for passing on long stretches of highway. I have not had ANY mechanical or other issues with any of these cars. In fact, I have an appointment in two days to buy my 4th CX-9.."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By TJ on Thursday, September 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "I can only say Mazda..... ZOOM ZOOM"
Cons: "Vehicle should come with side molding,for lights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The only thing I would have liked is a little better gas mileage.. The fit and finish is excellent, I just replaced my tires after 55,000. The ride is very good and has plenty of power when needed.. Only complaint is I need a ladder to wash it. Love the vehicle."
By Stanley on Saturday, September 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good driver for a big car"
Cons: "Getting in and out on all four seat not good"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I have two negative issues 1. The drivers seat goes back to fully recline each time you unlock the car. 2. The passenger seat is too high and the angle of the windshield is too short. A lot of power, pretty good mileage on the highway! Sound system great , good lines Blind side is a great feature"
11 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Mel on Thursday, September 04, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Constant Repairs
Pros: "Great Style and Interior"
Cons: "Mechanically not sound!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"So I owned the 2007 Mazda CX-9 I loved my car but it kept going into the shop. Once this vehicle hit's 100k you will begin having massive issues! In a 9 month spread we dumped $7,180.00 dollars into repairs. Finally had enough at what point does repairing not make since? This vehicle has a very stylish body and apart from changing the front Grill and headlight's Mazda has not changed the overall appearance. So it still looks like a new car 7 years latter. The fit and finish on the interior is done very well! The seating lay out easily fits not just little kids but full sized adults in every seat nicely. The cargo space with the third row up is ample enough for Football Moms. Put the third row down and you can start putting bikes in for the kids! The third row down cargo is the best design in it's class, throw a blow up bed in there and you can easily camp in your car! (we did that) Be careful buying one of these if it has 100k miles plus though because buyer be ware! We traded to a new Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD this vehicle is great. The CX-9 beats it in the back row but that's about it. Best luck on your buying decision and I hope this was helpful. Overall I loved my CX-9 but was heart broken when it became a money pit."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Kim on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sized car - tons of room."
Cons: "Wish it got better gas milage. Tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"A Mommy Car with attitude. Drives nice, lots of room for friends or stuff. I even carried a full size washer in the box, in the back of the car. Only complaint was had to put tires and brakes on the car at 25K. Seemed early to me to spend this kind of money. I would recommend this car."
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful