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2019 Mazda CX-9

2019 Mazda CX-9

Change year or vehicle
$19,540 — $47,885 NEW and USED
83
Photos
SUV
7 Seats
23-24 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 4 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Excellent handling for an SUV this size
  • Engine power
  • Fit and finish
  • Second-row seat can slide and tilt with a child-safety seat installed

The Bad

  • Multimedia system frustrating to use
  • Captain’s chairs not available
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto not standard
  • Tight third row for adults
2019 Mazda CX-9 exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2019 Mazda CX-9
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto now available
  • 360-degree camera system now available
  • Seats up to seven in three rows
  • Turbo four-cylinder engine standard
  • Front- or all-wheel drive

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2019 Mazda CX-9 Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By Mike Hanley

The verdict: A strong dose of sportiness — and luxury in the highest trim level — elevates the 2019 Mazda CX-9’s driving experience, but the trade-off is less cargo space and third-row passenger room than most competitors.

Versus the competition: The CX-9’s buttoned-down handling and responsive, turbocharged drivetrain are strengths that contribute to one of the best driving experiences in the three-row SUV class, but competitors like the Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas and brand-new Kia Telluride (see their specs compared) have roomier interiors that are better for families with kids (and all the stuff that goes with them).

The CX-9 was last redesigned for the 2016 model year. For 2019, Touring and higher trim levels gain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity; the rest of the changes are listed here. We tested a top-of-the-line Signature trim with all-wheel drive. Its only option was $300 Machine Gray paint, which brought its as-tested price to $46,710, including a $1,045 destination charge.

Drives Like a Mazda

You can usually count on Mazda to deliver driving performance a cut above the class norm, and the CX-9 is no exception. It’s easily the best-driving three-row SUV from a non-luxury brand.

The biggest thing that separates the CX-9 from its competitors is ride and handling. Taut suspension tuning results in well-controlled body motions that give the SUV a planted feel in corners. Most three-row SUVs make their considerable bulk known when...

The verdict: A strong dose of sportiness — and luxury in the highest trim level — elevates the 2019 Mazda CX-9’s driving experience, but the trade-off is less cargo space and third-row passenger room than most competitors.

Versus the competition: The CX-9’s buttoned-down handling and responsive, turbocharged drivetrain are strengths that contribute to one of the best driving experiences in the three-row SUV class, but competitors like the Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas and brand-new Kia Telluride (see their specs compared) have roomier interiors that are better for families with kids (and all the stuff that goes with them).

The CX-9 was last redesigned for the 2016 model year. For 2019, Touring and higher trim levels gain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity; the rest of the changes are listed here. We tested a top-of-the-line Signature trim with all-wheel drive. Its only option was $300 Machine Gray paint, which brought its as-tested price to $46,710, including a $1,045 destination charge.

Drives Like a Mazda

You can usually count on Mazda to deliver driving performance a cut above the class norm, and the CX-9 is no exception. It’s easily the best-driving three-row SUV from a non-luxury brand.

The biggest thing that separates the CX-9 from its competitors is ride and handling. Taut suspension tuning results in well-controlled body motions that give the SUV a planted feel in corners. Most three-row SUVs make their considerable bulk known when you toss them into corners, but the CX-9 willingly plays along when you have the urge to drive it like the Miata you owned before you had kids. The ride got a bit bumpy on rough roads, but our tester came with large 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, a combination that tends to degrade ride comfort. The SUV’s standard 18-inch alloy wheels with taller-sidewall tires likely improves the ride.

The CX-9 is one of a handful of three-row SUVs, like the Atlas and Subaru Ascent, powered by a standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The CX-9’s turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission, and the powertrain has been tuned for driving enjoyment; gas pedal and transmission response are good, and the engine’s low-end torque — 310 pounds-feet available at 2,000 rpm — is there when you need high-speed passing power. The CX-9 includes a Sport mode that heightens drivetrain response by holding lower gears longer before upshifting and increasing gas pedal sensitivity.

The one area where the CX-9’s driving experience falters is its steering; while steering precision is fine, the wheel has a numb feel.

Premium Cabin Quality*

The other thing that distinguishes the CX-9 from the competition is its upscale cabin materials and finishes, which are as nice as what you’ll find in some luxury SUVs. However, this observation comes with an important asterisk: It’s true on the Signature trim level only.

It’s not uncommon to see differences in cabin quality between base and top-of-the-line trim levels, but the gap is wider than normal in the CX-9. Things the Signature trim gets that lower trims don’t include Nappa leather upholstery, Rosewood trim and additional LED accent lighting. Those extra luxury touches don’t come cheap: The all-wheel-drive-only Signature costs $2,725 more than a Grand Touring AWD model.

Besides being finished in upscale leather, the front bucket seats in Grand Touring and higher trim levels are heated and ventilated, and the second-row outboard seats are heated. Comfort is good in both rows; the front buckets are supportive, and the second row has good legroom for adults when the seat is in its rearmost position. The second-row bench seat also reclines (second-row captain’s chairs aren’t offered).

It’s a good thing the second-row bench slides forward and backward, because third-row passengers are going to be hollerin’ for more legroom — there’s very little to spare with the second row slid all the way back. Second-row passengers won’t be able to help with third-row headroom, however, which is severely restricted by the CX-9’s sloping roofline. Outward visibility back there is also limited due to small rear-quarter windows, resulting in a third row that some might find claustrophobic. Unlike the third-row seats in the Atlas and Chevrolet Traverse, the CX-9’s isn’t made to carry adults.

Tech Hits and Misses

Our test vehicle was packed with tech features, some better executed than others. One that’s done well is the available head-up display, which includes speed limit info as well as graphical indicators for the available lane departure and standard blind spot warning systems. However, the blind spot warning indicators are harder to see at a glance than the ones Kia and Genesis incorporate into their HUDs.

There’s also an available 360-degree camera system that gives a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings as well as forward and rear views. The extra visibility is welcome, but the system’s pixelated front and rear image quality is disappointing considering other models’ crisp, HD-quality images.

The standard Mazda Connect multimedia system includes a 7-inch touchscreen and a console knob controller. Touring and higher trims get an 8-inch touchscreen in addition to CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The knob controller is intended to be the main interface, as touchscreen functionality is disabled when the CX-9 is in motion.

This screen lockout makes using the CX-9’s newly available smartphone connectivity more difficult than it needs to be. CarPlay’s familiar icon-based interface appeared on the dashboard touchscreen when my iPhone was connected to the CX-9, and it responds to touches and swipes — when you’re stationary. When you’re moving, you must use the knob controller to navigate the system, which isn’t ideal for a touchscreen-optimized interface like CarPlay. The knob controller is relatively easy to use, but Mazda’s decision to disable the touchscreen is frustrating.

Grand Touring and higher trims have a 7-inch instrument panel screen in the center of the instrument panel, but it doesn’t add much. The screen’s speedometer, for one, is just a digital representation of a traditional analog speedometer. Mazda didn’t take advantage of the design freedom a screen affords. However, I do like how Mazda has integrated a following-distance indicator in the center of the screen to alert you when you’re too close to the car ahead of you. The warning is also shown in the head-up display.

Cargo

The CX-9 has one of the smallest cargo areas among three-row SUVs, with 14.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row and a maximum of 71.2 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. Useful features include third-row head restraints that automatically lower when folding the seat and a shallow hidden storage bin under the cargo floor.

Safety

The CX-9 received the highest score in all Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, as well as IIHS’ highest rating for front crash prevention (when equipped with the optional Smart Brake Support automatic emergency braking). The Touring trim had the best-performing headlights in IIHS tests, with an Acceptable rating; the base Sport model’s headlights were rated Marginal, while the high-end Grand Touring and Signature’s lights were deemed Poor.

Other available active-safety features include lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control that works down to a stop.

Value in Its Class

We last compared the CX-9 against the three-row SUV competition in 2016, when the current generation of the SUV was brand new. It finished fourth in a field of eight SUVs and was just as much of an outlier then as it is today, with its focus on driving performance and style at the expense of passenger and cargo room. The field has only gotten stronger with the arrival of models such as the Atlas and Telluride — both of which are worth a test drive — but if you can live with the CX-9’s shortcomings, there’s nothing else in the class that drives like it.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

5.0
44 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(5.0)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Beautiful and Functional

by Tim S. from Lake Stevens, WA on May 12, 2020

Bought this car to cart around a family of 5. Kids have plenty of room to be comfortable, but cargo space is not as spacious as some others in the class. However, Mazda made up for it with excellent ... Read full review

(5.0)

Luxury Vehicle Without an outrageous price tag

by mtheroux from CRANSTON on April 22, 2020

The car rides very smooth, and gives a comfortable ride. The seats are soft and everything is at arm's length. It is a great car and I look forward to having it for awhile. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2019 Mazda CX-9 currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Mazda

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Latest 2019 CX-9 Stories

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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.*

Third-row access

B

Infant seat

B

Booster

(third row)

A

Booster

(second row)

A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

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

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*MSRP and Invoice prices displayed are for educational purposes only, do not reflect the actual selling price of a particular vehicle, and do not include applicable gas taxes or destination charges.