Mazda’s CX-9 is the driver’s choice among the three-row family mover crowd, standing out for its agile handling, comfortable ride, and quiet interior. Long, sleek, and rakish, the CX-9 has a presence that contrasts with some rivals that come across as boxy tall wagons. Although we have some quibbles over accommodations, controls, and feature content, the CX-9 is a compelling alternative to the more popular players.
Making just 227 horsepower on regular fuel, the CX-9 is eclipsed on paper by V6-powered rivals from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota. But don’t let that spec-sheet comparison fool you. The CX-9 feels fleet and responsive. A welcome swell of thrust comes early on, effortlessly propelling this sizable SUV in everyday driving. That said, the Mazda's turbo four cylinder lacks the slickness and polished sound of a V6. Fuel economy is very good at 22 mpg overall.
Most midsized three-row SUVs feel rather mundane to drive. By contrast, the CX-9 feels alert and hunkered-down when driving through the corners. As such, its driving experience leans more toward a German luxury SUV than a lumbering box.