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#7

in Affordable Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $29,985 - $36,625
Invoice: $28,382 - $34,658
MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
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Mazda CX-9 Performance

Reviewers agree that the 2014 Mazda CX-9 is sportier than its rivals, with nimble handling and minimal body roll through turns. Reviewers also say its engine provides ample power for all situations. Some reviewers say the CX-9 doesn't ride as softly or comfortably as its competitors, but they tend to prefer the more engaging and sporting nature of the CX-9.

  • "If you're wondering whether the seven-passenger 2014 Mazda CX-9 drives like a proper Mazda, we'll cut to the chase: You bet it does. Three rows and all, the responsive CX-9 feels smaller than it really is when you're driving it on winding roads. There's plenty of power, too, which is something not every Mazda can claim. If athleticism is what you want from a family-sized crossover, the CX-9's hard to beat." -- Edmunds
  • "Most large SUVs are not known for spirited acceleration or the ability to carve corners. The 2014 Mazda CX-9 is a welcome exception." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Still, the CX-9 drives better than many comparable three-row crossovers, with good visibility in all directions, a strong V-6 engine, and a composed chassis." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The CX-9 may not be as soft-riding as many of its competitors, but nor is it as tippy in corners or as disconnected-feeling at high speeds. In other words, it's a typical Mazda, and that's a good thing." -- Car and Driver (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The CX-9 is powered a 3.7-liter V6 engine that produces 273 horsepower, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is up to an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway, which is not best-in-class, but similar to what most other three-row SUVs in the class get.

Test drivers say that the CX-9 has ample power for driving around town and passing slower vehicles on the highway. Additionally, some note that the transmission is quick to shift when more power is needed.

  • "The big V6 hums along with little fuss or commotion, delivering its power in a smooth, linear fashion without hesitation or strain." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2014 Mazda CX-9's V6 offers strong acceleration for both around-town driving and highway passing. The automatic transmission is also pleasing, offering quick and timely shifts." -- Edmunds
  • "Press that right pedal, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Mazda's 273-horsepower V6 gets this SUV up to speed. That potency inspires confidence when entering freeways or getting around slower traffic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's no hot rod, but the CX-9 has ample power for passing, merging, and taking advantage of opportunities in traffic." -- Car and Driver (2013)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard on the CX-9 and all-wheel drive is optional. Reviewers say the CX-9 is one of the best-handling crossovers in the segment, and that its ride quality is refined. Still, some write that it’s best not to upgrade to the available 20-inch wheels, which create an overly harsh ride on rough pavement. Reviewers praise the CX-9's brakes and steering for their responsiveness.

  • "Despite the CX-9's size and weight, it is still amazingly spry when rounding corners or darting through traffic. Credit the car's rigid frame, MacPherson strut front suspension and independent multi-link rear suspension for the sports-car-like ride and handling." -- AutoTrader
  • "Although we generally like the suspension's combination of compliance and poise, we can't recommend the 20-inch wheels of the Grand Touring, as too much ride comfort is lost in the transition from the standard 18-inch wheels. If you stick with the base wheel setup, you'll still have one of the best-handling big crossovers around." -- Edmunds
  • "More significantly, the CX-9 doesn't just excel in a straight line. The most surprising aspect about the big Mazda's driving manners is its ability to corner like a smaller vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Arguably the most engaging three-row crossover, CX-9 drives like a smaller vehicle than it is. It responds quickly to steering inputs, body lean in fast turns is well controlled, and brake response is very good." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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