in 2012 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $20,686 - $26,680
Original MSRP: $29,725 - $35,125
MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
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2012 Mazda CX-9 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers love the way the Mazda CX-9 drives, saying it handles almost as well as sport-tuned luxury SUVs like the BMW X5. This comes at the expense of some capabilities because the CX-9 can’t tow as much as many of its midsize competitors. It doesn’t have quite as much power as V8-equipped rivals like the Dodge Durango, but reviewers say they don’t mind.

  • "The engine is smooth, refined, and barely noticed while cruising and at idle.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The CX-9's only notable drawbacks are long rear doors that can be cumbersome in tight parking spots, and the ride stiffness that comes with the Grand Touring's 20-inch wheels.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 boasts a 273-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Test drivers say that this combination supplies adequate get-up-and-go, though the transmission can be less responsive than some.

According to the EPA, two-wheel drive models get 17/24 mpg city/highway, while models equipped with optional all-wheel drive net 16/22 mpg. That’s about average for the class. The CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is on the low side for a crossover. The Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

  • "CX-9's V6 engine provides sufficient power in any situation. The transmission is generally alert, but it's sometimes slow to downshift for more passing punch.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the Mazda CX-9 is one of the sportiest vehicles in its class, though its athletically-tuned suspension means that its ride might be too harsh for those looking for a more comfort-tuned SUV. More than one test driver says that the optional 20-inch wheels aren’t worth the extra price, since they significantly decrease the CX-9’s ride comfort. One reviewer notes that the steering might feel too light for some, but the brakes get generally good reviews.

The CX-9 comes standard with front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is an option.

  • "Like many large crossovers, the 2012 Mazda CX-9 provides admirable road trip transportation, offering a comfortable ride on long journeys. It separates itself from the pack by driving like a smaller, more agile vehicle thanks to its precise, communicative steering and buttoned-down composure in corners.” -- Edmunds
  • “A tidy turning radius makes it easy to maneuver in tight spots, a surprise given this crossover's large overall size. Braking control is solid, though one test Grand Touring had a slightly mushy pedal feel.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "What We Don't (Like): Too-light steering effort.” -- Cars.com

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