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 SteveiB (CT) on Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfort, style, leather interior, quiet, fun"
Cons: "Can't find any."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought new in 2008 after my 2004 6 sport(still own it) was paid off. LOVE this SUV. Normal maintenance and oil changes done. Never broken down, never left on the side of the road. Rear shock just failed today. After the repair I still smiled when I got back in and drove home. Normal repair and on other cars I have had that happen at 50,000 miles. This car rides like a sports sedan. My neighbor with his Explorer can't believe this is 6 years old. Thinking of trading and then keep saying WHY? Those that complain about mileage just realize it's an SUV (AWD) even though it feels like a smaller car. I press the peddle (big one on the right) and know I can beat most anything out there. Can Ford, GM or Chrysler say NO RECALLS. Between my 2004 and 2008 never a recall! Mazda, I will be back but it might be a while!"
By joeflausa (FL) on Monday, November 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price was good enough for me to buy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"All (almost) is great, but a few things I would change. Not enough compartments within arms reach of the driver. The steering wheel is a little small for me. And the last thing some of the dash light (mpg, miles left to go, etc. Just a little to small. But I'm thinking I'll get used to it. But now I'll give it very high 9 over 10."
By Bort (CA) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "drv. dynamics, qualily interior, spacious, stylish"
Cons: "gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After testing most 2013 SUV in this class, my finalists where the CX-9 and the Highlander. Hands down Mazda's interior quality and design beats anything else in its class that I have test driven (Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Ford, Chevy, etc.). The seats are race comfortable with good seat pan tilt and height adjustment. The telescopic steering wheel adjustment gave the most latitude out of all others. The driving dynamics on the CX-9 is above the rest. The car grips like glue on the road on long fast turns and maintains its stiff race like suspension where all others would compress and lurch out of line. I recommend the 20" wheels that come with the grand touring if you like a stiffer handling as I do. The car has plenty of pep. The style and drivability somewhat reminds me of the Audi. My wife likes the blind spot warning radar which few others have. Cargo space seems more spacious than competitors because of its wide gate that doesn't narrow towards the back like others. Both first and second row seating have generous space while the third row, like all others, is cramped and should be used by small children or in small doses. I don't recommend the AWD however. There is a history of transfer case overheating and failure problems on older models with AWD if the tires are not evenly worn. So all four tires must be replaced together on the AWD variant. This may have been fixed in newer models but AWD also lowers your 0 - 60 time and gives you less gas mileage on a car that already is poor in that department. Overall I am very happy with this car and enjoy driving it very much."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By tkalladan (GA) on Tuesday, October 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Strong SUV for good price."
Cons: "Gas mileage is less."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I looked in to most of the mid size SUV before I settle into buy Mazda CX-9, grand Turing with tech package. I paid $33000 to drive out including tax and all fees. I think I got good deal on price and bought one. Two month later I'm very happy about the driving and feel safe. Almost all the luxury SUV has similar futures and cost lot more money."
By Steve (WA) on Monday, September 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Safe Feel, Look, Functionality, Sexy"
Cons: "Gas Mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this vehicle in Jan of 2013. My initial impression was how substantual and crisp the drive and handling were. I feel like if I hit another car, I would be ok without a seatbelt and would quite frankly destroy the other car. I take it over to Eastern WA and over the mountain passes. It's the first vehicle that I feel entirely safe in... and can bully those 18 wheel semis on those hairpin turns!!! It's a bit thirsty around town, bummer to see 16 MPG. Highway is a true 23 MPG. Handling is crisp and nimble, ride is appointed, not stiff but you feel bumps at times. I have the Grand Touring. I love my Bose and the interior is super nice. It's the most comfortable vehicle I've ever owned. It is my favorite vehicle ever! I would test drive one asap if you're in the market for SUV or CUV."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By bb_nj (NJ) on Friday, July 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good overall drive experience"
Cons: "Lousy customer service and Parts availablity."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought spanking new CX9 AWD and was super excited. The drive is nice though the voice interface can be improved. Alas this was short lived and not to mention super frustating. So much so that I have decided to let go of the vehicle at a lose. Why... because Mazda sold me a car for which they do not have spare parts. My car is in workshop for more than a month for simple parts like bumber and grill. They do not even have eta on the back orders. The Customer service is no help and would not even consider a loner car. I am spending from my pocket. Even after the car is fixed I have lost complete faith in the brand. Please do share as this might be the most important and missing information you could pass to your friends. Great car lousy service failed brand. Bottomline if you do not care about service or certain it will never require repair a good buy. Stay away..."
12 people out of 18 found this review helpful