2018 Mazda CX-9 Review


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2018 Mazda CX-9 Overview

Three-row crossovers have become the de facto choice for families to carry kids and cargo. Standing out in this crowded class is difficult as automakers introduce new and redesigned models at a blistering pace. Mazda’s entrant into the class, the CX-9, stands out with a distinctive design, numerous luxury appointments, and sprightly performance. For 2018, Mazda makes improvements to the CX-9’s safety features.

Mazda is equipping all CX-9s with blind-spot monitoring, low-speed automatic emergency braking, rear-cross traffic alert, and Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that reduces engine torque when the crossover enters a corner to improve stability. The base Sport trim can be equipped with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, and rain-sensing wipers via the new Sport package. Standard safety equipment includes a full set of airbags, traction and stability control, reversing camera, and emergency telematics system. The CX-9 has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The CX-9’s exterior features Mazda’s Kodo design language with sharp edges, a large front grille flanked by slim LED headlights, and a cleanly-styled tailgated. A set of 18-inch wheels comes standard on the Sport and Touring, while the Grand Touring and Signature get 20-inch wheels. The interior retains the previous model year’s simple and intuitive control layout and extensive use of soft-touch materials. Anyone who sits in the front or second-row seats will appreciate the abundance of head- and legroom. A limited amount of legroom, however, makes third-row less accommodating. The cargo capacity trails competitors with only 14.4 cubic feet behind the third-row, 38.2 cubic feet behind the second-row, and 71.2 cubic feet behind the front seats.

A turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder offering up 227 horsepower (250 hp when running on Premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque is the only engine available. This is paired with a 6-speed automatic and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Performance is surprisingly energetic with the CX-9. Reviewers note the engine pulls quite strongly at low rpms and never feels like it is going to run out of breath.

Down a twisty road, the CX-9 feels like a smaller vehicle with sharp reflexes, little body roll, and steering that provides the right balance of feel and weight. Compared to other three-row crossovers, the CX-9’s ride is slightly rougher with more bumps being transmitted inside. Wind and road noise are kept to acceptable levels.

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 carries a base price of $32,130.


Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.

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The side mirrors go down in reverse? Thank you.