New 2017 Mazda CX-9 SUV New 2017
Mazda CX-9 SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

Reborn last year into a svelte new form with premium appeal, the 2017 CX-9 is Mazda's largest and most powerful SUV. With three rows and seating for seven, the Mazda CX-9 is in the same category as midsize-crossover SUVs such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. But one spin in Mazda's flagship SUV proves it's in a different league when it comes to road manners. Simply put, the Mazda CX-9 is the most fun-to-drive SUV in its class. As with other Mazdas, the CX-9 isn't the segment's most powerful, but its taut handling and turbocharged engine imbue this crossover SUV with athletic flair. The flip side of the equation comes in practicality, as the CX-9 has less room for kids and cargo.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If your heart yearns for something sporty but reality necessitates an SUV, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 will satisfy both. In addition to having the kind of athletic manners that would cost tens of thousands more in a luxury SUV, the CX-9 boasts premium looks and features that belie its mainstream badge.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

The CX-9 only seats seven, so you'll have to pick a roomier rival like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot or Chevrolet Traverse if you need to fit eight. If you're adamant about having a V6 engine or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, you'll also have to choose one of the Mazda's competitors.

What's New for 2017

All-new last year, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 carries over with few changes. Among them, the Smart City Brake Support -- an automatic emergency braking system -- becomes standard on Touring trims. To get a good idea of what it's like to live with the CX-9 on a daily basis, check out our 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring Ownership Review.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Mazdas have a knack for being Davids among Goliaths, out-handling and out-maneuvering more powerful rivals. That applies even to Mazda's biggest vehicle. Compared to competitors, the CX-9 feels lighter on its feet and more nimble. The CX-9 is highly enjoyable to drive. It's one of the few SUVs that not only puts up with hard cornering and enthusiastic driving, but also relishes it. As we've noted, the turbocharged 4-cylinder doesn't win the horsepower race, but its stout 310 units of torque provide ample grunt. Thankfully, the new CX-9's dynamic ways don't come at the cost of a stiff suspension. This one ably absorbs rough patches. Credit should also be given to the CX-9's automatic transmission, a 6-speed that's well-matched to this engine. Like other Mazdas, this one has a Sport mode that optimizes the engine and transmission for zippier performance, but we found it unnecessary.

Favorite Features

PREMIUM APPEAL, MAINSTREAM PRICE
If you want more proof of the blurred line between mainstream and luxury, look at the Mazda CX-9. Specifically, look at the roughly $45,000 Signature edition. Yes, those are real rosewood-and-aluminum accents surrounded by Nappa leather. Also included are Mazda's suite of active safety features and a premium Bose audio system.

HIGH TORQUE, HIGH EFFICIENCY
Though smaller in size, the CX-9's 4-cylinder turbo engine puts up impressive figures. Among them: 310 lb-ft of torque that enable prompt initial acceleration and 28 mpg, the highway fuel economy on front-wheel-drive (FWD) models.

Vehicle Details

Interior

All Mazda CX-9s have 3-row, 7-passenger seating. Adults fit fine in the second row, but the third row is best for kids. The front seats are roomy, and the area feels commanding thanks to a wide console. Nestled in that console is a rotary dial and auxiliary buttons controlling the CX-9's standard dash-mounted infotainment display. The view out front is good, and we like that the left windowsill is wide enough to rest an arm. The new CX-9 trails the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander in cargo room, but there's a respectable 71.2 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded.

Exterior

With last year's revamp, this 2nd-gen Mazda CX-9 received a svelte new suit. Dressed in Mazda's "Soul of Motion" design philosophy, the CX-9's sheet metal emphasizes sweeping forms, organic shapes, and the idea of movement even at rest. We think it's beautiful. That big grille up front adds to the premium cred, yet doesn't seem overboard. The tapering roof and forward stance make this SUV appear smaller than it is, and even its rear is pretty thanks to a horizontal treatment of the taillights and rear lip beneath the window. A pair of exhaust outlets further emphasizes this SUV's sporty nature.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 remains available in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and the top-shelf Signature. Even the base Sport model offers amenities like 3-zone climate control that includes a 2nd-row control panel, 7-inch color touch-screen display with rotary controller, rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels. However, unless you opt for a package, you'll still have to manually adjust the front seats. Standard tech features include the Mazda Connect system with voice command, Internet radio streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, and AM/FM/HD Radio with an auxiliary input and two USB inputs. Sorry, CD fans -- a compact disc player isn't even optional.

Notable Optional Equipment

We recommend at least the Touring trim, which includes heated and power-operated front seats, leather trim, power liftgate with adjustable height setting, a larger 8-inch command screen, blind-spot monitoring, and four USB ports. This year, the Touring trim comes with a significant active safety system: Smart City Brake Support. Grand Touring trims include navigation, 12-speaker Bose audio, a moonroof and more safety/driving aids such as radar cruise control, backup sensors and lane-keeping assist. Signature models have all-wheel drive (AWD) standard (it's optional on all other models) and Nappa leather trim, genuine rosewood accents, and nifty LED accent lighting in the grille.

Under the Hood

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 uses a small but potent 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that packs 310 lb-ft of torque. That low-end torque, combined with sophisticated plumbing for the turbo system, makes this engine feel plenty strong, like a V6 in disguise. Regarding horsepower, you'll see two figures: 250 is the max, running on harder-to-find 93 octane. Most drivers will opt for regular unleaded, on which the engine makes 227 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is the standard setup, with all-wheel drive optional and recommended if you live in a cold-weather state. All models use a 6-speed automatic transmission. The CX-9's towing capacity is 3,500 pounds, less than the 5,000-pound figure put up by the Highlander and Pilot, or the 5,200 figure of the Traverse.

2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4
227 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm (250 horsepower w/ 93-octane)
310 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (FWD), 20/26 mpg (AWD)

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

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Pricing Notes

The 2017 Mazda CX-9 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $32,460 for a base model. Touring trims bow at $36,910, and Grand Touring models start at $41,410. Adding AWD is an extra $1,800. The top-line Signature model that includes AWD standard starts at $45,255. At these prices, the new CX-9 begins slightly higher than rivals like the Highlander, Pilot, Traverse, GMC Acadia and Kia Sorento. But the price-to-features differential evens out or leans in the Mazda's favor as you climb trims. If you're simply looking for a low-priced 3-row SUV, there's the Mitsubishi Outlander, though that isn't as easy to recommend. Even harder, but it still exists, is the Dodge Journey. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new SUV. The Mazda CX-9's resale value is expected to hold up well, though still trail the Highlander and Pilot.

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