2020 Mazda CX-9

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2020 Mazda CX-9 Test Drive Review: A Breath Of Fresh Air

Mazda's CX-9 has now proven that Mazda can take its ethos of building smaller fun to drive vehicles and bestow that upon the three-row crossover segment. The Japanese brand has managed that while also turning away from the V6 engines common in the CX-9's rivals like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant all through the range, and with 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque on tap, drivers will appreciate both its vigor and fuel economy figures. Drivers and passengers will both appreciate the i-Activsense safety suite that's now standard on every CX-9.

While we love the handling and fuel economy for such a big vehicle, it's not at the expense of things the whole family can appreciate. The CX-9's ride is smooth, the interior is refined, and seats seven as standard. Mazda's three-row crossover is not perfect, but in a world of stodgy crossovers, it's still capable and a breath of fresh air.

Read in this review:

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2020 Mazda CX-9 Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 CX-9?

While nothing has changed for the Mazda CX-9 mechanically, there have been a host of improvements when it comes to the quality of life. The newest Mazda CX-9 models now come standard with the i-Activsense safety suite, comprising forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. The front seats come heated as standard, too, and the driver gets a power-adjustable seat with power lumbar. Each trim above the base Sport now gets a larger nine-inch touchscreen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Touring now offers the available second-row captain's chairs and comes standard with a power liftgate. There have also been changes to the interior palette for the top-tier Signature, which is the Mazda CX-9 we had the opportunity to review on test.

Pros and Cons

  • Capable and efficient turbo four-cylinder
  • Impressive handling
  • Spacious and high-quality cabin
  • Loads of features come standard
  • Can seat seven in standard configuration
  • Trunk is a bit smaller than most rivals'
  • Doesn't have the best towing capacity
  • Third-row seats are only suitable for children

Best Deals on 2020 Mazda CX-9

2020 Mazda CX-9 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Sport
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$33,890
Touring
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,710
Grand Touring
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,550
Signature
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$46,215
See All 2020 Mazda CX-9 Trims and Specs

2020 CX-9 Exterior

2020 Mazda CX-9 Forward View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

  • Length 199.4 in
  • Wheelbase 115.3 in
  • Height 67.6 in
  • Max Width 77.5 in
  • Front Width 65.3 in
  • Rear Width 65.2 in
  • Curb Weight 4,225.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Deep Crystal Blue Mica
  • Jet Black Mica
  • Snowflake White Pearl Mica
  • Machine Gray Metallic
  • Sonic Silver Metallic
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic

2020 CX-9 Performance

2020 Mazda CX-9 View Out Back CarBuzz
2020 Mazda CX-9 Gear Shifter CarBuzz
2020 Mazda CX-9 Motor CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The CX-9's handling dynamics truly set it apart from its rivals, although some are starting to catch up as it heads into its fourth year of this generation. Nobody is quite there yet, though, and enthusiasts will enjoy the grip and agility of a vehicle half its size. The G-Vectoring torque system and well-tuned suspension make the CX-9 surprisingly nimble, which is to its advantage both around town and out on country roads. The retuned suspension minimizes body roll and keeps things composed, and it's not until reaching particularly rough-cut roads that its firmness starts to affect ride quality negatively.

Ride quality is bolstered by good insulation in the cabin from road and wind noise, and freeway miles are eaten up with quiet ease. In the city, the CX-9 never feels sluggish and is easy to maneuver in tight areas. The available all-wheel-drive system is set up for inclement weather, but it'll also help out when soft-roading up to a hiking or picnic area.

2020 CX-9 Interior

2020 Mazda CX-9 Dashboard CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Front Head Room 39.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.5 in

2020 CX-9 Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Mazda CX-9 Cargo Capacity CarBuzz
2020 Mazda CX-9 Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Mazda CX-9 Trunk Space with Seat Folded CarBuzz

2020 CX-9 Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Mazda CX-9 a good car?

We are huge fans of the Mazda CX-9 as an SUV and family vehicle, but we are not blind to the fact that the class-leading driving dynamics come at a cost to cargo space and the usefulness of the third row. As an alternative to the two-row CX-5 for families that will find value in an occasional-use third row, the CX-9 is an excellent car. For families where the third row is part of everyday life, and plenty of cargo space is a necessity, they may want to look elsewhere. The CX-9 also falls behind rivals when it comes to towing capacity. However, it's a practical three-row SUV with quality levels that border on premium. The punchy engine, engaging chassis, and overall connection with the driver, however, can't be ignored. This is a midsize SUV for the family man or woman who has been forced to give up his sports car but can't give up their passion for driving.

2020 Mazda CX-9 Comparisons

Mazda CX-5 Mazda
Honda Pilot Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda CX-9227 hp20/26 mpg$35,630
Mazda CX-5 187 hp24/30 mpg$26,250
Honda Pilot 280 hp20/27 mpg$38,080

2020 Mazda CX-9 vs Mazda CX-5

Just a single tier below the CX-9, the Mazda CX-5 bears many similarities to its big brother. While the compact crossover may get an uninspiring 187-hp four-cylinder engine as standard, it does get access to the same turbocharged four-pot as the CX-9. Properly equipped, the smaller SUV can be quite a spirited driver while still offering the same quality interior and long list of available features as the more expensive CX-9. Naturally, you will be sacrificing a bit in terms of cabin capacity, since the CX-5 only seats five, and its standard cargo capacity of 30.9 cubic feet behind the second row can't match the CX-9's 38.2 cubic feet with the third row folded down. Still, there's a pretty significant price difference between the two SUVs, and you'll need to carefully consider your requirements. If you've only got a family of four or five, the CX-5 will definitely suit your needs just fine.

See Mazda CX-5 Review

2020 Mazda CX-9 vs Honda Pilot

At more than $2,000 cheaper than the Mazda, the Honda Pilot is definitely tempting competition to consider when shopping around for a three-row SUV. In terms of sheer practicality for money, the Honda Pilot makes more sense, as it can more easily accommodate seven passengers, and it even has a bit more cargo capacity. But, looking at the bigger picture, the Mazda CX-9 seems to come out on top. Unless you're going to be squeezing six or seven into the SUV on a regular basis, the CX-9 is quite a bit more comfortable with its plusher, upscale interior. It also gets more standard and available features, along with an easy-to-use infotainment suite. Throw in significantly better driving dynamics and just a smidge better fuel economy, and you have a recipe for success. At the end of the day, it will come down to where your priorities lie, but the Mazda CX-9 seems to be better as an all-rounder.

See Honda Pilot Review

2020 Mazda CX-9 Popular Comparisons

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