We've spent 12 months with this Mazda CX-9, reviewing the full ownership experience.

It’s a Wrap

Current Odometer: 15,301 miles
Latest MPG: 19.7 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 20.6 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $104.60
Time out of Service: 85 minutes
Total Fuel Cost: $2,315.77
MSRP: $43,150 (incl. delivery)
KBB Trade in value: $27,622 ($26,530-$28,718)
KBB Private Party value: $30,966 ($29,745-$32,192)

by Matt DeLorenzo | July 20, 2018

Time with our long-term 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring has come to an end and we part ways suitably impressed with this stylish, 3-row crossover. While it is only just approaching being two model years old, the landscape in the premium crossover SUV segment is changing rapidly.  Even though the CX-9’s styling remains fresh, there are newer and sharper competitors in the segment that probably has Mazda working on a mid-cycle refresh and soon.

First, the virtues. In addition to the styling, Mazda prides itself on making vehicles that are fun to drive and this extends to its largest vehicle. Despite its length and heft, the CX-9 is poised, precise and easy to maneuver out on the open road and in confined spaces. The seating position is high, giving the driver a command of the road. As a 2-row crossover, the CX-9 is plenty comfortable and as stylish inside and it is outside. There’s also ample amenities and safety assists on the Grand Touring like blind spot warning and lane keep assist to put this vehicle in that premium area between mass market and luxury.

Even though there is no V6 option available, the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which is rated at 227 horsepower (you can get 250 on 93 octane, but we stuck with regular for this test), seemed up to the task of providing decent power. A big help in the day-to-day drivability is the 310 lb-ft of torque. With an EPA rating of 20 mpg city/26 highway, our mileage was a bit on the low side, coming in around 19-20 mpg in city commuting and would hit just over 25 mpg on road trips.

As for the vices, techies will note the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, while those looking for the utility of a true 3-row SUV will find the last row compromised. It’s best used to seat small children and in a pinch. Part of that is due to the CX-9’s sleek roofline.

Some editor’s log book observations:

“I continue to think the CX-9 is among the best looking and best driving 3-row SUVs on the market. Mazda effectively evolved it during the last redesign, improving it in every way without losing its trademark driving dynamics. That’s the good news. The bad news is that every automaker has upped their game in terms of large SUV handling. This means the delta between the CX-9 and other large SUVS, in terms of driving enjoyment and confidence, isn’t what it used to be. “

“If you don’t need all the room as much as you want more style, the CX-9 is a must see.”

“Still gorgeous, inside and out.”

Smaller than the competition, but it never came up short.”

“Lack of CarPlay is the biggest roadblock for me.”

"If anyone I know asks about a three-row SUV this is the one I recommend. All around from styling to power/powertrain, handling and ride, it’s a seven-passenger “big” SUV that drives like a much smaller more maneuverable car. If I had to go back to driving a large SUV it would be this one." 

Bottom line

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring lives up to its promise of providing most of the functionality of an SUV with more than a modicum of style. Think of it as a tall, very handsome station wagon with all-wheel drive and you won't be far off the mark. Based on the MSRP including delivery of $43,150 and Kelley Blue Book’s Private Party Value of $30,966, you’d be looking at about 28 percent depreciation over nearly two model years, a sign that the CX-9 Grand Touring will continue to hold its value.


The Last Road Trip

Current Odometer: 14,143 miles
Latest MPG: 20.3 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.1 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $104.60
Time out of Service: 85 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | June 8, 2018

Our time with our long-term 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring sadly is coming to a close soon. As part of that long goodbye, I took it on a road trip to Phoenix over the Memorial Day holiday. For highway cruising, there’s plenty of comfort, good visibility and fairly decent fuel economy for a vehicle this size. We averaged 22.3 mpg on the trip and also noticed the rather huge difference in the price of fuel between California and Arizona, where the former cost is nearly half again what it took to fill the tank in the latter.

While nearing Phoenix, our old friend, the low tire pressure warning light came on again. Earlier, it proved to be a false alarm set off by a change in temperature on a previous desert to shore run. This time, though, it turned out the right rear was low and in getting it checked out at a full-service gas station (yes, they still exist, or at least in Scottsdale, they do) the attendant discovered a large screw had embedded itself in the tread. A quick plug fix for $15 stopped the leak and the handy reset button on the dash allowed me to extinguish the yellow warning light.

The only other learning on our trip was the voice recognition for the navigation still needs work. Manufacturers are developing more natural speech patterns for their voice recognition. However, the 2017 version of the technology is still pretty highly formatted, but what was frustrating was that even if you followed the protocol, the system didn’t seem to recognize any major points of interest (like the Talking Stick Casino and its Top Golf Center we were trying to get to) or even some secondary streets that were marked on the nav’s own map system. We can only anticipate that these will only get better with each passing model year.

That frustration aside, there’s no better road trip companion than the Mazda CX-9, it offers room for carrying up to 7 passengers in a pinch, plenty of stowage space when the third row is down (though for visibility sake, the third-row headrests are best left down when the seat is up and unoccupied), and plenty of performance to make the freeway miles disappear. 


Safety First

Current Odometer: 13,152 miles
Latest MPG: 18.2 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.1 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | May 22, 2018

Safety is at the forefront in shoppers’ minds when looking for new vehicles, but it’s a funny thing, you want a vehicle to be safe and protect you, but you hope that you never have to find out just how it all works. That’s changing somewhat as the new generation of alerts, warnings and assists are making their presence known rather than sitting passively by waiting to spring into action in the event of a collision.

This newfound activism can be reassuring or unsettling depending on how these systems perform in alerting or intervening on your behalf. Our long-term Mazda CX-9 has some of these technologies, like lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring, and others that will steer you back in a lane or jam on the brakes if you are about to back into a pole. While the former two are relatively unobtrusive, the beeping noise the blind spot system makes when you engage a turn signal can be a bit on the annoying side, especially when you turn a signal on in heavy traffic in the hopes that a kind soul will make space for you to change lanes. That aside, it also has visual alerts in both outside view mirrors and more importantly, in the head-up display that shows there’s something shadowing your rear three-quarter.

A lot of these systems are becoming standard, but if not, are worth whatever the manufacturer is charging since all it takes is for one avoided collision to pay for itself in both repairs and higher insurance. And while the active warnings are a nice addition, there’s also something reassuring about the mass of the CX-9 and its high seating position that also instills a sense of security. No wonder crossovers like these are on their way to displacing the traditional 4-door sedan as the family vehicle of choice.


About that third row

Current Odometer: 12,676 miles
Latest MPG: 20.6 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.3 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | May 1, 2018

One of the selling points of a vehicle like the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is the fact that it has third-row seating. Now, it’s not the most accommodating bench among vehicles of this ilk, but it will work in a pinch. However, the practicality and day-to-day livability of the CX-9 comes from the fact that it functions quite well as a 2-row SUV with a nice load space behind when the rear seats are folded flat.

And in a way, this is a crossover that is clearly in tune with most shoppers these days. According to a Kelley Blue Book Quick Poll, while consumers want 3-row crossovers and SUVs, it doesn’t necessarily translate into the fact that they will use them. Having all-wheel drive registered as the most popular reason for buying an SUV at 39 percent, however, the second highest consideration for purchase was the availability of a third row among 27 percent of the respondents.

Wanting one and using one are two different things, apparently. In the poll, fully 34 percent said they never use that back row, while 23 percent said it was used less than 20 percent of the time. Only 10 percent said that they use the third row all the time.  The CX-9 fits in with that scenario. Its sleek look comes at the expense of the way back passengers, however, because the second row can be moved fore and aft, it offers plenty of space and flexibility in using that seating position. So, in a pinch, the CX-9 can handle a full crew, but more often than not, it’s a happier place for just five.

As for how it’s running, the CX-9 seems to have settled in by delivering fairly consistent combined fuel economy of about 21 mpg—it’s been higher on road trips and bit lower when used in daily commuting. But overall, given the size and comfort, the gas use is what you’d expect from a vehicle of this type. 


The Long and Winding Road

Current Odometer: 12,142 miles
Latest MPG: 22.8 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.4 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | April 11, 2018

The opportunity to visit friends from Detroit who were renting a house in the Santa Ynez valley town of Los Olivos was too tempting to pass up, especially when the weekend outing would include a jaunt on Highway 154 that connects that area with Santa Barbara. The views from the San Marcos pass on both sides are spectacular, made even more so by hillsides, which were green from winter rains.

Our 2017 Mazda CX-9 not only had plenty of cargo room for luggage and assorted picnic items, but also an athletic chassis that made the drive over the mountains engaging. The CX-9 is more of a tall wagon than a full-on high-riding SUV, so while you have the advantage of a high seating position, the vehicle itself handles well (a traditional strong suit for the brand). The steering is precise, the body kept in check by the taut suspension and the turbocharged 4-cylinder didn’t seem too winded during the drive. The CX-9 is a stout piece, and while the engine does fine in most everyday commuting and driving, on a challenging road like Highway 154, a little more scoot would add to the enjoyment factor.

Nonetheless, the CX-9 proved its mettle on the road and once in town being able to haul around four adults in comfort. While the return trip home involved some stop and go traffic, the good visibility out and supportive seats took a lot of the tedium out of being stuck on the 405. Overall, the Mazda CX-9 is our go-to vehicle when the open road beckons.


Under pressure

Current Odometer: 11,466 miles
Latest MPG: 23.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.2 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | March 19, 2018

While cruising along the freeway in our 2017 Mazda CX-9, the tire pressure warning light came on. Toggling through the various menus and pages, however, I couldn’t find a readout which would indicate the actual tire pressures and which specific wheel was at fault.

I immediately pulled off the highway and went to a gas station and pumped up all the tires to the recommended 34 psi—the culprit may have been the left rear, which was about 2 psi less than the other wheels. Still, having driven a rental Hyundai Elantra where the same thing happened, I noticed that this economy car had both the tire pressure light, actual pressures from all four corners and a little flag telling you which wheel was responsible for the callout. Now if an affordable car can have such a sophisticated tire pressure monitor system, why not a near luxury SUV like the $43,510 CX-9?

Still, the Mazda did redeem itself. There is a prominent switch on the dash to the left of the steering wheel that allows you to reset the warning once you equalized all the pressures. As for the Hyundai, the rental car didn’t have an owners’ manual and no matter the number of menus and pages I scrolled through, I couldn’t get the warning light to go off, even though all the tire pressures were reading equal.

Tire pressures aside, the Mazda CX-9 continues to do yeoman’s work, hauling people and stuff in relative comfort and with more than a dose of style. Looking at all the new crossovers coming to market, like the 2019 Infiniti QX50, and the CX-9 continues to hold its own with a look that will remain fresh for many years to come.


On the road again

Current Odometer: 11,114 miles
Latest MPG: 24.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 20.9 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

by Matt DeLorenzo | February 27, 2018

Less than a month after a road trip to Phoenix, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Palm Springs and loaded up our 2017 Mazda CX-9 with a couple of suitcases, backpacks and a set of golf clubs. While an earlier update demonstrated the flexibility of the CX-9 in swallowing a bike, this time around, the Mazda shows that in two-row mode, it can handle a lot of luggage and not sacrifice any second seat roominess. During the trip, we threw three more sets of clubs in the back and our foursome headed off to the links in total comfort.

What the trip also demonstrated was the big difference in fuel economy that exists between high cruising and in-town commuting. While shuttling back and forth between the office and home, fuel economy dropped from the Phoenix outing’s nearly 25 mpg to about 19 mpg. Taking to the highway again to Palm Springs saw the fuel economy improve to 24.7 mpg on the trip and drag the overall mpg for that tank of fuel used for in-city driving back over the 20 mpg line.

While the third-row capability is nice, that space should be reserved for smaller individuals or children. Even though the second-row indexes fore and aft, it’s still pretty tight in the way back. If you regularly need that third row, then perhaps something a bit boxier and less stylish should be on your shopping list. But, as our experience shows, if you’re looking for a 2-row SUV, you shouldn’t pass up the CX-9 because it not only functions as well as any out there in an elegant package but has that just-in-case third row capability.


700 Easy Weekend Miles

by Matt DeLorenzo | February 5, 2018

Current Odometer: 10,769 miles
Latest MPG: 24.7 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.9 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

There’s nothing like a road trip to help boost fuel economy. A recent roundtrip to Phoenix yielded a pretty impressive average of nearly 25 mpg from our CX-9, and it coverd the 700 miles with relative ease. The seats are firm, but supportive, so even after spending more than five hours in the saddle each way, I felt fresh at both ends of the trip.

The CX-9 has plenty of power and cruised effortlessly with traffic, and even at speeds of 70 to 75 mph recorded that mid-20s mileage. As mentioned in earlier entries, the Mazda's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has sufficient horsepower (277) and abundant torque (310 lb-ft) to move the 3-row people mover with ease, so the stellar highway mileage is a bonus, not a consolation. And the tank is large enough that we only needed to fill up twice, with one stop outside Phoenix (where gasoline is a buck cheaper than in California) and then again when got home. There’s tremendous range in this vehicle, with the trip odo recording 439.2 miles between the Phoenix and home refills. With plenty of time behind the wheel, I was able to appreciate the stability and comfort of this long-legged crossover and really liked the convenience of the head-up display as a reminder to keep the speed in check.

Pretty soon it will be spring break time and the open road will again beckon. The Mazda CX-9 will be at the top of the list when it comes time to grab the keys.


If the Bike Fits…

by Jason Allan | January 23, 2018

Current Odometer: 9,626 miles
Latest MPG: 18.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.3 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

The Mazda CX-9 is among the smallest entries in the 3-row midsize SUV segment, but we’ve yet to run out of room. It recently passed the mountain bike test, swallowing the adult-size dirt bike pictured here without too much maneuvering. The same bike is even easier to load into a Honda Pilot, for instance, but in the Mazda you can have a little fun on the way to the trailhead, too.

Mountain bike in back of 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring


Are Four Cylinders Enough?

by Michael Harley | January 10, 2018

Current Odometer: 9,334 miles
Latest MPG: 18.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.3 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

Eyebrows were raised when Mazda announced that its second-generation CX-9, launched for the 2017 model year, would arrive with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. But 6-cylinder power is the norm for the 7-passenger crossover segment, cried many naysayers, while others lamented the loss of the 3.7-liter V6, which had powered its predecessor.

No need to fret, as the new 2.5-liter engine (rated at 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque) is an excellent—albeit smaller—replacement for its discontinued forerunner. Thanks to turbocharging, and carefully controlling the way air flows in and out of the engine with innovative technology, nearly all the engine’s power is delivered down low. The result, when compared to the outgoing V6, is 40 more pound-feet of torque, the twisty force that makes an engine feel strong. Step on the accelerator pedal and the CX-9 moves with authority off the line, zips around town, and passes effortlessly on the highway (after a couple of downshifts). I put more than 2,000 miles on the Mazda in December, and never once did I miss the V6.

While a 6-speed automatic is decidedly old-school (most of the industry has jumped to 8- or 9-speed automatics), the gearbox shifts smoothly and it harmonizes well with the turbocharged engine’s characteristics. Thanks to gobs of low-end torque, the engine refrains from revving too high, which goes a long way to improve fuel economy. Overall, I averaged 22.0 mpg during the month, and during one 90-mile highway run I saw 27.4 mpg—effectively beating the numbers on its window sticker (the EPA rates the CX-9 at 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway).

The only downside to the 4-cylinder powerplant is noise and vibration. There’s an unrewarding buzz emanating from under the hood during acceleration that is accompanied by a mild vibration that fluctuates with the tempo. Mazda has proven that you can beat a V6’s torque and fuel efficiency with a turbocharged four, but matching the V6’s distinctive audio track and smoothness is futile.


First Service

by Michael Harley | December 27, 2017

Current Odometer: 8,721 miles
Latest MPG: 18.8 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.4 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $89.60
Time out of Service: 70 minutes

The “Oil Change Due” message illuminated on the CX-9’s dashboard shortly after it reached the 7,000-mile mark, which follows Mazda’s “flexible” maintenance interval (the owner’s manual “severe diving conditions” schedule recommends 5,000-mile oil changes). We placed a call to Neftin Westlake Mazda, in Westlake Village, California, and made an appointment.

Arriving at 7:45 a.m., we were greeted by a friendly service advisor who grabbed the keys and checked the vehicle’s mileage. We asked for just the oil change – everything else appeared to be working perfectly – and said that we’d be waiting. The wait would be an hour, unless we wanted the Mazda washed, which would add another 20 minutes. A sparkling-clean Mazda sounded appealing, so we opted for the additional wait.

We were shown to a waiting area with a desk and free WiFi. About 70 minutes later, earlier than expected, the service was complete.

According to the receipt, the “Minor Service” and “Full Circle Inspection” included draining the engine crankcase and replacing the oil filter. The new fill was six quarts of full synthetic Castrol Edge 5W-30. The tires (“good” at 7/32” or greater tread depth) and battery (“good at this time”) were also inspected. The brakes were also checked (“good” at over 5mm), and the tire pressures brought up to 36 psi at all four corners.

The total invoice was $156.35, but they had us sign an oil rebate form (they took the refund) so our total bill was $89.60, including tax.

Overall, the service was effortless – no upsell or pressure to do maintenance work that wasn’t needed. Our only curiosity was with the sticker that Neftin Westlake Mazda put inside the front windshield that indicated our next visit was due in just 5,000 miles – that’s following the “severe” schedule. Most owners, especially those in temperate Southern California, won’t need to follow that aggressive program that adds another 30 percent to maintenance costs. 



by Keith Buglewicz | July 10, 2017

The phrase "family hauler" evokes a lot of mental pictures, few of them brimming with excitement. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 we recently added to the Kelley Blue Book long-term fleet aims to change that with a much-needed dose of behind-the-wheel entertainment to supplement its wholesomeness. Think of it like Brussels sprouts, but slathered in butter and cooked with bacon: Tasty, but still kinda good for you under all that.

The question, of course, is whether or not the tastiness of the bacon overrides the goodness of the sprouts. That is, did Mazda make the CX-9 fun to drive at the expense of its core mission of family-friendly hauling? We're going to spend the next year finding out.

It's a Looker

If three-row crossover SUVs were bought solely on their looks, the Mazda CX-9 would be the hands-down winner. This is a great looking crossover, with sharp lines, a little bit of a shark-nose jut to the top of the hood, head and taillights sunk into the bodywork, and razor-sharp grille offset give it a simultaneously modern and classic look. We especially like the clean LED accents in the headlights, and the slab-sided flanks that stand out for all the right reasons. There's just enough chrome to keep things interesting without being garish. The Machine Gray Metallic paint highlights the CX-9's subtle handsomeness perfectly, its satin finish helping this already good looking car stand out even more.

Inside, the CX-9 obviously targets higher-end luxury SUVs rather than the workaday Honda Pilots and Toyota Highlanders of the world. Soft touch surfaces are everywhere, with stitched and padded panels down by the driver's knees. The control knob for the infotainment system is a hefty feeling solid metal piece, as is the volume knob. Everything has a weight and positivity to how it feels, and if you were to strip out the Mazda badge and replace it with one from a luxury brand—looking at you, Lexus—we're guessing few would doubt the subterfuge.

Is It a Doer?

Our test CX-9 is a Grand Touring model, with all-wheel drive and the cool color being the only paid-for options. Everything else is standard at this trim level, and it's a lot. There's active cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic braking, a backup camera with cross-traffic alert, and more. The leather interior also includes heated front seats, real aluminum trim, and separate climate controls for the second row of seats. So far we're enjoying the Bose audio system, but truth be told we'd like the infotainment more if Mazda would offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Fully belled-and-whistled, our 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring comes with a price tag of $43,510, including the $940 destination charge and $300 paint job.

We're putting our Mazda through its paces already, and in its first month it has racked up more than 1,000 miles of service. Stay up to date with our Mazda CX-9 adventures by bookmarking this page. 


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