By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.9
The 2014 CX-9 is Mazda's largest model, a 3-row, 7-passenger sport-utility vehicle. Despite its SUV status, it remains a Mazda, meaning it's actually fun to drive. Thanks to a powerful V6 engine and dynamic handling, the Mazda CX-9 stands out from competitors such as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder because it feels more like a nimble sports sedan than a pragmatic people-mover. Even the Mazda's swoopy styling conveys motion and stands in contrast to blockier or bloated designs. That styling does sacrifice some interior room, however, and though Mazda's invigorating powertrain still holds its own, the fresher setups in some of the CX-9's rivals are more fuel efficient.
If you need a vehicle that can haul up to seven people, yet your heart yearns for a car that's fun to drive, the Mazda CX-9 deserves your attention.
If you intend to regularly carry adults in the 3rd-row seats, the larger Chevrolet Traverse offers more room, while better fuel economy can be had in the freshly revamped Nissan Pathfinder. Both can also go beyond the CX-9's 3,500-pound tow limit.
The CX-9 mostly carries over for 2014. Slight changes include updated wheels and the addition of rear cross-traffic alert on Touring and Grand Touring models.
Driving Impressions Most large SUVs are not known for spirited acceleration or the ability to carve corners. The 2014 Mazda CX-9 is a welcome exception. Press that right pedal, and you'll be...pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Mazda's 273-horsepower V6 gets this SUV up to speed. That potency inspires confidence when entering freeways or getting around slower traffic. More significantly, the CX-9 doesn't just excel in a straight line. The most surprising aspect about the big Mazda's driving manners is its ability to corner like a smaller vehicle. Most buyers of a family SUV will crave comfort, though, and the CX-9 delivers here, too. In everyday driving, the Mazda is quiet, comfortable and easy to maneuver. Like other 3-row SUVs, visibility to the rear quarters is hampered. Here the standard blind-spot monitoring system on Touring and Grand Touring models helps greatly.
REAR CROSS-TRAFFIC ALERT
This safety system that's new for 2014 alerts drivers to vehicles approaching from behind and perpendicular to the car. This feature is especially helpful when backing out of busy parking lots.
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 third row via a 1-handed release. This all makes for better overall passenger comfort and great cargo flexibility.
The 2014 Mazda CX-9 has a sleek and highly functional interior. All models can seat up to seven passengers, with generous legroom offered in the first and second rows, and modest room found in the two seats in the third row. Even in premium form with leather-trimmed seats and navigation, the CX-9 retains a straightforward dash setup. Controls are a snap to locate and use, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road rather than hunt for the seat warmer. If swaths of black are not your cup of tea, sand-hued upholstery is available.Exterior
Sweeping curves rather than blocky sheets of metal continue to make the Mazda CX-9 one of the more stylish SUVs on the road. Though the CX-9 is now in the seventh year of its current generation, last year's design updates help it remain fresh. This is most notable in the trapezoidal front grille and available integrated fog lights that give the CX-9's face the familial feel of recently revamped models in Mazda's lineup such as the 2014 Mazda3 and Mazda6. At the rear are bold red taillights and shiny twin exhaust outlets.
The 2014 CX-9 comes in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Base Sport models come nicely equipped with tri-zone automatic climate control, a 5.8-inch touch-screen 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 blind-spot monitoring, rearview camera, rear cross-traffic alert, leather upholstery and heated, power front seats. Top-line Grand Touring models have a 3-position-memory driver's seat, automatic bi-xenon headlights, power tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 20-inch wheels. Safety features on all models include six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction controls.
All CX-9 models can be had with Mazda's Torque Split All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system instead of the standard front-wheel drive (FWD). Most other major options are bundled into packages and include a navigation system, power moonroof and 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. A Towing Prep package that's available on FWD models and standard on AWD versions enables the CX-9 to tow up to 3,500 pounds (other models are limited to 2,000 pounds).
The sole engine on the 2014 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 a smooth-shifting, 6-speed automatic transmission 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.
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)
The 2014 Mazda CX-9 SUV has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $31,000 for a front-drive Sport model and rising to around $36,000 for a top-line Grand Touring version. Adding AWD to any model is about $1,600 extra. A fully loaded Mazda CX-9 can crest the $40,000 mark. At these prices, the Mazda CX-9 is comparable to other 3-row SUVs such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander. Lower-priced rivals include the Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder and Hyundai Santa Fe. A 3-row Dodge Journey, with its sub-$21,000 starting price, remains the low-price leader in this segment. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area are paying. The CX-9's resale value is expected to be good, near that of the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, but to trail that of the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder.
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