CARS.COM — Mazda says that when the redesigned 2016 CX-9 SUV goes on sale in late spring, it will get an EPA-estimated 22/28/25 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 21/27/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. Those are impressive numbers, up 5 to 6 mpg combined over the outgoing CX-9. They come in large part thanks to weight reduction and a switch from a V-6 to turbo four-cylinder, but there’s a caveat: The family SUV only makes its full 250 horsepower on 93-octane premium gas, and slightly less with 91- or 92-octane premium. Fill it up with the cheap stuff, and Mazda says power drops to 227 hp.
Related: Why Is Premium Gas So Expensive?
Still, Mazda spokesman Jacob Brown said the automaker will recommend 87-octane gas for the CX-9, all the way down to what’s printed on the gas cap. He confirmed the SUV achieves both its EPA-estimated mileage and peak torque — 310 pounds-feet — on 87-octane gas; premium will merely “yield more power in the top end.”
How does the redesigned CX-9 stack up against its competitors? Here’s its combined EPA gas mileage versus other 2016 three-row crossovers, all equipped with all-wheel drive:
- Mazda CX-9: 23 mpg
- Kia Sorento: 19-23 mpg*
- Nissan Pathfinder: 22 mpg
- Honda Pilot: 21-22 mpg*
- Ford Explorer: 18-21 mpg*
- Dodge Durango: 17-21 mpg*
- Hyundai Santa Fe: 20 mpg
- Toyota Highlander: 20 mpg
- Chevrolet Traverse: 19 mpg
*Ranges are due to multiple transmission or engine choices available with all-wheel drive.
Expect pricing and equipment info to come closer to the CX-9’s on-sale date.