Mazda CX-9 — Luxury in a three-row package

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(July 17, 2022) Although the current-generation three-row Mazda CX-9 was introduced way back in 2016, it continues to be one of the most alluring mid-sized crossover SUVs on the market. One of the reasons we came away feeling good about the stylish people hauler after a week behind the wheel was due to the fact we were driving the near-luxury Signature trim.

The CX-9 Signature is a standout in the three-row midsize SUV class, mostly for its striking design and relatively engaging driving experience. It feels decently athletic through corners, but not at the expense of ride comfort. It's the one of the most original offering in the segment. If there's a downside to this top line offering it is price, which reaches nearly 50 grand. Our review car listed for $48,830 including destination charge.

The Signature brings most of the things you would get in a similar-sized luxury segment SUV such as premium quilted leather upholstery with piping, real wood trim, second-row captain's chairs with center console, head-up display, an integrated navigation system, a surround-view camera system with a top-down view of the CX-9 and its surroundings for tight parking lot situations, wireless charging, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, a wireless charging pad, and rear automatic braking.

The CX-9 comes in six trims — Sport, Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature with the Sport starting at $36,855. If the Signature's price is out of reach, we recommend checking out the Touring that comes with a decent array of amenities for around 40 grand.

Last year we reviewed a 2021 CX-9 and there are very few differences other than all CX-9s regardless of trim or price now come with all-wheel drive.

One thing that might give you pause in your buying decision is that there is no six-cylinder upgrade, all models come with a the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 227 horsepower (250 hp with 93-octane premium gas) and 310 pound-feet of torque. Mileage is rated at  20/26/23 with AWD. While this may be off-putting, you might find with a test drive that the CX-9 has very adequate motivation from the engine mated to a six-speed automatic.

The crossover has been measured from 0-to-60 in 7 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.4 seconds @ 90 mph. We found it more than enough power to easily merge into faster moving traffic and passing on a two-lane highway. Towing capacity is a useable 3,500 pounds, but if you tow big things like a large boat of travel trailer you will have to look elsewhere.

The CX-9's fun to drive personality is a big bonus in this segment. The electrically assisted power steering is light and accurate and the Mazda is devoid of the ponderous feel offered by many competitors. The suspension is turned toward the firm side for satisfying back-road driving, yet its supple enough to provide the kind of luxury ride sensitive backsides expect.

The CX-9's interior is filled with upscale materials with detailed styling. It welcomes passengers with a cabin that would fit quite well in most entry-level luxury vehicles. Mazda has tastefully used soft-touch plastic with handsome graining, brushed aluminum, and, in our Signature-trim test car, genuine rosewood.

All CX-9s come with Mazda's user-friendly infotainment system and a 10.3-inch display. The software is easy to navigate and the graphics are crisp, plus the Mazda Connected Services suite provides remote access to vehicle status, telematics, and key operations such as remote start and remote locking. A wireless smartphone charging pad was new for the 2021 model year, but isn't offered on the base Sport model.

The CX-9 has safety well covered with such things as standard automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blindspot warning with cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.

In the warranty department, the CX-9 comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and a 6-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

If you like the CX-9, but are put off by such things as the 4-cylinder engine, then we recommend you wait another year and check out the all-new 2023 Mazda CX-90, which reportedly will come with a new turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine and a roomier cabin than the current CX-9.

2022 Mazda CX-9


Base price: $36,855; as driven, $48,830
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 227 @ 5,500 rpm (250 with premium gas)
Torque: 310 foot-pounds @ 2,000 rpm
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/2/3
Wheelbase: 115.3 inches
Length: 199.4 inches
Curb weight: 4,383 pounds
Turning circle: 38.8 feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Luggage capacity: 14.4 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 71.2 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating:20 city, 26 highway, 23 combined
Also consider: Kia Telluride, VW Atlas, Toyota Highlander

The Good
• Premium interior
• Sport handling
• Attractive styling
• All-wheel drive standard

The Bad
• No larger engine option

The Ugly

• Tight third-row seating