By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The 2013 Mazda CX-9 bucks that old adage about not having your cake and eating it, too. In the case of Mazda's biggest vehicle, the CX-9 offers the roominess of a large SUV, yet boasts the driving dynamics of a smaller sport sedan. This 3-row, 7-passenger vehicle also bucks the status quo with its exterior styling. Instead of the chunky looks of rivals such as the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot, the Mazda is rounded and sleek with a stance that says, "Let's drive." It doesn't take long of doing just that to realize this big vehicle feels much smaller on the road. The CX-9 won't conquer boulder-strewn trails or tow massive loads, but as far as people movers go, it's hard to find one in its $30,000 price range that's more invigorating to drive.
If you need a vehicle that can haul a family, but your heart still yearns for a car that's fun to drive, the Mazda CX-9 will give you the best of both worlds.
If you regularly need to carry adults in the 3rd-row seats, the larger Chevrolet Traverse offers more room. If you require an SUV that can tow more than 3,500 pounds, check out the Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse, or Ford Explorer.
For 2013, the CX-9 receives a freshened exterior with a new design front and rear. Inside, a 5.8-inch color touchscreen is standard, as is a new infotainment system with HD Radio, Pandora Internet radio connectivity, text-to-speech capability, and a new microphone for better speech recognition. Blind-spot monitoring and a rear-view camera now come to the mid-level Touring models.
Driving Impressions Most people don't expect spirited acceleration or much corner-carving ability from a large SUV. Nor should they. These vehicles are designed for hauling people, not necessarily derriere. The CX-9 is...a welcome exception. Stomp on the right pedal and you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how quickly the Mazda's 273-horsepower V6 gets this big vehicle up to speed on the freeway. And the CX-9 isn't just good in a straight line. True to that "zoom-zoom" marketing slogan, even Mazda's largest vehicle tackles corners with confidence. The CX-9 is also comfortable. Around town or on the highway, the 2013 CX-9 is relatively quiet, comfortable and easy to drive. Like other SUVs – 3-row ones especially – visibility to the rear left and rear right is hampered. Here the standard blind-spot monitoring system on Touring and Grand Touring models really helps. We are also impressed with the plush driver's seat and easy-to-reach controls.
TOUCHSCREEN DISPLAY & INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
New for 2013, all Mazda CX-9 models receive a color touchscreen display in the center dash that adds sophistication and features. In addition to offering navigation functionality, the system relays messages from smartphones and has a built-in HD Radio tuner, which offers high-quality, subscription-free AM/FM broadcasts.
FLEXIBLE 2ND-ROW SEAT
In addition to folding in a 60/40 split, the 2nd-row bench seat in the CX-9 slides, reclines, and offers easy access to the 3rd-row via a 1-handed release. This all makes for better overall passenger comfort and great cargo flexibility.
The 2013 Mazda CX-9 has a sleek, modern interior. In upper-end models, its cabin borders on luxury-car plush. If swaths of black material are not your cup of tea, leather-trimmed sand-hued upholstery is available for this model year in Touring and Grand Touring models (base Sport trims are stuck with black cloth). The new 5.8-inch color touchscreen in the middle of the dash also helps make the CX-9 feel like a more up-level vehicle. The front seats are plush, but the 3rd-row might be a tight squeeze for adults.
The CX-9 stands out among larger SUVs with a sleek style that looks more sport wagon than traditional SUV. Updates for 2013 keep Mazda's biggest hauler looking fresh. The grille has been revamped to appear more cohesive. Gone is the 2-tiered look of a narrow honeycomb grille above what some equated to a huge "grin," replaced for 2013 with a more contemporary 1-piece housing with flowing horizontal lines. The headlights are now more sweeping, while the taillights are bolder in red and the twin exhaust outlets appear smaller and round versus the larger, elongated shape of previous models.
The 2013 CX-9 comes in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Base Sport models come well-equipped with tri-zone automatic climate control, a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with AM/FM/CD/ HD radio with auxiliary and USB inputs and six speakers, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and 18-inch wheels. Touring models add a blind-spot monitor and rearview camera with rear backup sensors, leather upholstery, and heated, power front seats. Top-line Grand Touring models ladle on even more, including automatic bi-xenon headlights, a power tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver's memory seat, and 20-inch wheels. Safety features on all 2013 CX-9 models include six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, and a roll-stability control system.
All CX-9 models can be had with Mazda's Torque Split All-Wheel-Drive system instead of the standard front-wheel drive. Most other major options are bundled into packages and include a navigation system, power moonroof, and a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system. Grand Touring models can be had with a rear-seat entertainment system that includes a DVD player and 9-inch screen.
The sole engine on the 2013 Mazda CX-9 is a sophisticated 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, ample muscle to move this vehicle. All CX-9 models use an automatic transmission, in this case a smooth-shifting 6-speed version with manual-shift mode. CX-9s come standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available and is a smart option if you regularly drive in inclement weather, especially snow. While this vehicle does not have class-leading fuel economy, the CX-9 is rated up to 24 mpg and drinks regular unleaded gasoline. Maximum towing capacity is on the lighter end at 3,500 pounds.
273 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD), 16/22 mpg (AWD)
By buster on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"we owned a 2007 rendezvous prior to this suv. really loved that car, but this one is a close second. not 100% satisfied with the transmission and the way it down shifts as soon as you take your foot off the gas peddle. Drove it to florida this past Feb. and it was quite comfortable and handled the road great. got about 22mpg on the road."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Mel on Wednesday, November 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 210,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the car used and it is one of the best cars that I have ever owned mo major issues juts change the oil regularly and it keeps going"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
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."
12 people out of 22 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.."
7 people out of 12 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"
12 people out of 26 found this review helpful