2015 Mazda CX-9

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Key Specs

of the 2015 Mazda CX‑9. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Steering is high-effort but precise
  • Cabin quality
  • Relative affordability
  • Seating comfort
  • Maximum cargo room

The Bad

  • Crash-test ratings
  • Gas mileage
  • Long transmission gears hamper passing power
  • Cumbersome seat folding
  • Clumsy navigation system

Notable Features of the 2015 Mazda CX-9

  • Three-row, seven-seat crossover
  • 3.7-liter V-6 engine standard
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Sliding second row standard
  • 100.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo room

2015 Mazda CX-9 Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The 2015 Mazda CX-9 is a goodie but an oldie, and increasingly its problems — from recent crash tests to uncompetitive gas mileage — may be too much to overlook for family shoppers.

It pains me to advise against the seven-seat Mazda CX-9, which has been one of our favorite three-row body-type SUVs over the past decade. But that time frame says it all: For 2015, the CX-9 enters an ancient ninth model year in its current form.

With front- or all-wheel drive, the CX-9 comes in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims. Click here to compare them and here to stack up the 2015 and 2014 Mazda CX-9. Changes for the 2015 model year are minimal. We tested an AWD CX-9 Grand Touring.

Exterior & Styling
A modest update two model years ago loosely aligned the CX-9 with Mazda's Kodo design language. Mostly it looks like a plus-sized CX-5 — a profile that belies its actual dimensions, which, at more than 200 inches, eclipse the rival Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. Despite the bulk, the Mazda's 37.4-foot turning circle is among the tightest in the class. Bravo.

Visual differences between the three trim levels are minimal, save 20-inch alloy wheels (in place of 18s) and some lighting upgrades on Grand Touring models.

How It Drives
Mazda's 3.7-liter V-6 has plenty of muscle, with adequate low-end torque and instant accelerator response for stout power from a standing start. Stay on the gas, however, and you'll suffer: 2nd and 3rd gear turn on-ramps into et...

The 2015 Mazda CX-9 is a goodie but an oldie, and increasingly its problems — from recent crash tests to uncompetitive gas mileage — may be too much to overlook for family shoppers.

It pains me to advise against the seven-seat Mazda CX-9, which has been one of our favorite three-row body-type SUVs over the past decade. But that time frame says it all: For 2015, the CX-9 enters an ancient ninth model year in its current form.

With front- or all-wheel drive, the CX-9 comes in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims. Click here to compare them and here to stack up the 2015 and 2014 Mazda CX-9. Changes for the 2015 model year are minimal. We tested an AWD CX-9 Grand Touring.

Exterior & Styling
A modest update two model years ago loosely aligned the CX-9 with Mazda's Kodo design language. Mostly it looks like a plus-sized CX-5 — a profile that belies its actual dimensions, which, at more than 200 inches, eclipse the rival Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. Despite the bulk, the Mazda's 37.4-foot turning circle is among the tightest in the class. Bravo.

Visual differences between the three trim levels are minimal, save 20-inch alloy wheels (in place of 18s) and some lighting upgrades on Grand Touring models.

How It Drives
Mazda's 3.7-liter V-6 has plenty of muscle, with adequate low-end torque and instant accelerator response for stout power from a standing start. Stay on the gas, however, and you'll suffer: 2nd and 3rd gear turn on-ramps into eternal climbs, and a tall 4th gear means passing situations take a degree of patience in a place where other V-6 SUVs scoot. Once the six-speed automatic transmission upshifts, the transmission seems reticent to kick back down for power if you need it later on, preferring to let the V-6 inch the speedometer needle forward at lower engine speeds. The whole of it gives the CX-9 a plodding, heavy sensation at speed — a characteristic that the front-drive CX-9, which is 236 pounds lighter, may help.

I'd like shorter gearing and a more responsive transmission, but those would theoretically come at the expense of fuel efficiency, which is already behind the pack. With all-wheel drive, the Mazda CX-9 gets just an EPA-Estimated 18 mpg combined rating (19 mpg with FWD). That's short of the Ford (Explorer), Toyota (Highander), Chevrolet (Traverse) and Honda (Pilot) by 1 or 2 mpg — significant when you consider that 2 mpg equates to more than 10 percent.

Typical of Mazda products, the CX-9s hew toward sportier, higher-effort driving. The steering wheel has less power assist than most three-row crossover SUVs, which makes driving it a relative chore in parking lots, but it rewards you with sharp turn-in precision at higher speeds.

The suspension allows a degree of body roll that keeps with other large SUVs, and it rides a touch busily on anything short of smooth pavement. It's not objectionably firm, however, and the higher-profile 18-inch wheels on Sport and Touring models may improve on this.

Interior
Mazda puts some competitors to shame with its low-gloss, attractive dashboard materials, hefty controls and generous — not just obligatory — padding at all the points your arms or elbows contact. Touring and Grand Touring models have leather upholstery that feels rich enough for a luxury car, and all three rows have deep cushions — exemplary for the third row, in particular. Tall drivers should have enough adjustment range, but many drivers will find the power window controls — which Mazda exiled in front of the door handles — a bit of a reach.

The three-seat second row has a long forward/backward adjustment range with good headroom and legroom, albeit a low seating position. Even in the farthest-forward position, passengers should find adequate legroom — good news, since that's where they'll need to go (or somewhere close to it) if you assign adults to the third row. Both sides of the second row tilt and slide forward for third-row access, but Mazda offers only bench seating for that second row; there are no captain's chairs and center aisle available.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The Mazda CX-9's standard multimedia features are generous, including a 5.8-inch touch-screen with HD radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB/auxiliary inputs and steering-wheel audio controls. Bose premium audio and a 9-inch rear DVD entertainment system are both optional. Skip the optional TomTom-based navigation system; the small screen and slow map processing won't do you any favors, and the system requires too many intermediary steps for basic functions like zooming in.

Cargo & Storage
For a large SUV, the Mazda CX-9 ought to have more cabin storage. From the glove compartment to the center console, covered storage is in modest supply.

The SUV's 100.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo room puts it near the head of the pack, but getting to it is a cumbersome process. The third row takes multiple steps to fold, and it usually involves moving the second row forward — then moving it backward again so you have enough clearance to fold it down. Keep all three rows up and the CX-9 has a competitive 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row.

Safety
The CX-9's dismal crash tests could, and probably should, be a deal-breaker for many shoppers. The SUV earned a score of good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side impact and moderate-overlap frontal test, but it scored marginal in roof-strength tests and head restraint/seating tests. (IIHS rates cars poor, marginal, acceptable and good.) Worst of all, the CX-9 scored poor in IIHS' small-overlap frontal test. Of the 10 models subjected to this test in the organization's midsize SUVs class, two others were also rated poor. Three rated marginal, one rated acceptable and three rated good.

Standard features include six airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Touring and Grand Touring models have a blind spot warning system and backup camera, but a forward-collision warning system — a feature increasingly available in this class and something IIHS requires for its top safety award — is unavailable.

Click here to see a full list of safety features or here to see our Car Seat Check in a 2014 CX-9.

Value in Its Class
Base price for the CX-9 starts around $31,000 for a cloth-equipped Sport model. Mazda CX-9 Touring trims (around $33,500) add power front seats and heated leather seats, while the Grand Touring (around $36,000) adds a memory driver's seat, a power liftgate, keyless access with push-button start, and more. All-wheel drive runs a reasonable $1,590 on any trim. Add the handful of available factory options and an AWD CX-9 Grand Touring tops out around $41,000 — an affordable ceiling, as this class goes.

Affordable top trims, strong cabin quality and a recent history of high reliability will attract some shoppers to the CX-9, but safety is a must for any three-row SUV. The class as a whole had mixed results from IIHS, but none scored as poorly across multiple tests as Mazda. Combine that with the Mazda CX-9's subpar fuel economy and it's high time for a redesign.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


2015 CX-9 Video

Mazda's three-row crossover hasn't changed much in the last several years, but Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says the CX-9 is aging fairly well with a comfortable, high-quality interior and precise handling.

Latest 2015 CX-9 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Love my fully loaded CX-9 except for...

by ControlFreak from Texas on July 7, 2018

Love this vehicle. Great for running errands around the city or long distant travel. Lots of room inside, passengers ride in comfort. Rear air conditioning is a necessity in Texas (controls in both ... Read full review

(5.0)

so happy with purchase

by JennyC from Louisville, KY on June 14, 2018

It met all of my "requirements" plus some. I love how smart it is! It won't let me lock the keys inside. Or the mirror lights that show me when i car is next to me but also makes a noise if my turn ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Mazda CX-9 currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Mazda CX-9 Sport

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
acceptable
Overall evaluation
poor
Retraints and dummy kinematics
poor
Structure and safety cage
poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
marginal
Overall Rear
marginal
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
marginal

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
acceptable
Overall Evaluation
poor
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
poor
Structure and Safety Cage
poor
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Mazda

Program Benefits

At Mazda, everything we do is designed, engineered, tested and retested to make driving better. And our Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are no exception. Each one comes with the confidence to greet every turn, on- ramp and green light with the same driving enthusiasm Mazda owners know so well.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Each Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle comes with a 12-Month/12,000- Mile Additional Limited Warranty with no deductible on covered components, which begins when the factory warranty ends. If it's out of warranty, the 12-Month/12,000-Mile Limited Warranty begins on the certified retail date.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Mazda quality inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The CX-9 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker