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 SkipperJohn on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, versatility, comfortable seating"
Cons: "Quirky radio/climate controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased new in early 2012, we were drawn to the Mazda CX-9 by the roomy, comfortable interior with high quality materials and a 3rd row seat in a fairly compact package. Ease of opening and folding the 3rd row seat sold the wife on this car. She loves it. So do I. With 22000 miles, the CX-9 has had only two unscheduled visits to the dealer. 1. A power steering belt broke; and 2. I had to cut the seat belt in the right rear to extract my child who had been squirming around and got himself inextricably entwined in the seat belt which cinched up around him and could not be unfastened. Mazda was good enough to cover that repair even though I didn't expect them to. A bit disappointed with 16-17 MPG city and 22 hwy. but with adequate acceleration. Had hoped for 3-4 MPG more each. Braking very good with 80% pads left after 22,000 miles. Brakes squeak occasionally when cold but there is a kit Mazda installs to eliminate this. Excellent driving position and comfort on long hauls. No fatigue after a 3 1/2 hour drive and that's exceptional for me with my bad back. Love the Blind Spot Monitoring system. Works great. The gauges are a bit dated looking and are either too bright or too dim at night with limited adjustability. A very slight turn of the dimmer knob either direction maxes it out either way. The rear view camera provides a somewhat distorted view to the rear. Daylight glare on the screen washes out that view. Handling is exceptional for an SUV of this size. But ride can be a bit bouncy on certain surfaces with the 20" wheels on the Grand Touring. And the OEM Bridgestone tires became rather noisy with a loud humm after 20,000 miles. The radio/climate controls beep every time you make a selection. Wish I knew how to turn that off. It's a bit annoying. And the radio/climate display read out at the top center of the dash is not prominent enough. I prefer a clearer, larger display. Also, the keyless ignition on the 2012 model is a bit quirky. The keyless fob allows you to turn the "dummy" ignition switch on the steering column, as opposed to a "push start-push off" button. None of that is that big of a deal to us however. Overall, we're very happy, and glad we bought the 2012 model. We DO NOT LIKE the 2013-2014 exterior redesign."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Lovemycx9 on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, feel safe, love the sleek style"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I drive a lot of miles and really enjoy the luxury and comfort and handling of the CX-9. It has all the features I want in a sleek and sexy style. Handles well and I feel safe in this vehicle. Our daughter is learning to drive in this SUV and I feel comfortable knowing it has great safety features."
By drumdude on Saturday, January 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cargo room, relative comfort, reliability"
Cons: "Forward angled steering/dash, bulky/cheap feel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Bought this '11 GT FWD new coming out of an '08 Pathfinder... wanted something more car like in drivability, but still needed lots of cargo room. Almost didn't buy due to FWD torque steer and driver position/steering/dash reach. Mostly the reasons I'll likely be trading this tomorrow on a VW AWD Touareg. The Mazda is nice, it is very reliable, and drives pretty well, but does feel big, cause it is! It has a HUGE amount of cargo space, which I needed more than now at purchase time. Maybe I should have gotten the AWD, but wanted better gas mileage which is pretty lame as it is (17.5 avg). I hate the FWD torque steer. Almost dangerous in 'need to get out of the way' situations. It just spins the front tires. Worse for me (at 5'8") is the angle of the steering wheel (also too small IMO) and dash (all forward leaning) and the subsequent far reach for all. A '9/3' hand position on the wheel is almost impossible when pedal distance is correct. Nav screen not readable in sunlight due to this ridiculous angle as well. (Nav is also not very intuitive to use). Other gripes is lack of lit up controls like windows (besides drivers), locks, mirrors, etc, which I didn't catch til first night drive after purchase-have to open the dang door to see the lock/unlock button! ... cost cutting, but lame. Stereo is way boomy and too much low/low mids, not natural. Truck feels thin and cheap to me. Having said that, I got a great deal on it when buying, and it wasn't that expensive to begin with. So, you get what you pay for. Bluetooth does work well, and voice recognition is decent. As stated, it's a very nice truck/car, probably better suited to bigger folks with long arms! The above mentioned are deal breakers for me though, so after lots of research, going back to German solidness/engineering (had a few Beemers and Audis). More expensive, but again, you get what you pay for."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By skingfool on Thursday, January 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "all around fun car yet great for the family"
Cons: "window and lock controls hard to reach"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is the first new car I have ever purchased. When comparing to the domestic counterparts, this car was a steal. Very functional, decent mileage, great for my large family, and fun to drive."
By Does Not Matter on Sunday, December 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Great Looking, Good Power"
Cons: "Terrible mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"We bought this with the rear entertainment system and it's a great overall vehicle for both long and short trips. The only complaint I have is that the gas mileage is terrible. I use it for 95% in-town driving and see about 14 MPG, nowhere NEAR the advertised ratings."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By CB's car on Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, dependable, sturdy, fun to drive"
Cons: "too pricey"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I bought my 2007 CX9 in 2008. It is black with taupe leather interior. Comes with all the bells and whistles. I haven't had any problems with it. Great travel vehicle for the family. The kids can watch movies, play games and it can seat up to 7 people! The original battery lasted 6 years (not bad at all) and I just recently replaced it. I think the CX9's are a little pricey or perhaps we could have negotiated better. Thank goodness I can use regular gas otherwise a high monthly note on top of having to use the top grade gas would be a bit much to handle. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good dependable family car and can afford it. Thank goodness mine will be paid off soon!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful