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 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."
6 people out of 8 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"
2 people out of 3 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