The 2020 Mazda CX-9 goes beyond the ordinary 7-passenger, 3-row family hauler, offering a seductive exterior, luxurious interior and dynamic handling rarely found in an SUV of this size. Mazda CX-9 stands out as a different choice in the three-row crossover market. The 2020 CX-9 represents the second generation which embodies Mazda's KODO design. CX-9 has some refreshing elements at its disposal - an athletic design, eager handling, and upscale interior.
The Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged engine that produces 227 hp. This engine produces one of the best torque output in the segment and yields good low-speed drivability. The CX-9 is available with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a standard FWD configuration.
Where others are purely functional, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row crossover SUV that delivers heavily on style. It’s one of the best-looking family crossovers on the market, and that includes offerings from luxury brands.The CX-9 goes up against Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and the newly introduced Subaru Ascent. Although the CX-9 doesn't sell in hot volumes, it has the makings of a good driver car's that is rare to find in this segment.
8.9/10 Engine and Performance
2020 Mazda CX-9 Features
The Mazda CX-9 is available in 4 well-appointed trim levels. The base Sport trim brings a lot of standard features to the table. Considering the $32,280 price tag, it offers immense value for money. It offers three-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display, rear privacy glass and safety features like Smart City Brake Support automatic emergency braking, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. For an increase of $3,000, the touring trim brings in rear power tailgate, heated side mirrors, leather-trimmed seats, a larger (8.0-inch) infotainment system, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system with 7-inch full-color touch-screen display
Adds or deletes feature from Sport plus:
Adds or deletes feature from Touring plus:
Adds or deletes feature from Grand Touring plus:
18-inch alloy wheels with P255/60 R18 tires
8-inch full-color touch-screen display
20-inch alloy wheels
SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS with G-Vectoring Control
Rear Power Liftgate
Power sliding-glass moonroof with sunshade
LED signature grille accent lighting
Three-zone automatic climate control
Automatic power-folding side mirrors
Genuine Santos Rosewood interior trim
Remote keyless entry
Heated side mirrors
Heated steering wheel
LED shifter accent lighting
Aluminium interior trim
Auburn Nappa leather-trimmed seats
Apple CarPlay integration and Android Auto integration
SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link Services
POWER DRIVER’S SEAT PACKAGE(Optional)
TOURING PREMIUM PACKAGE (Optional)
7-inch TFT multi-information display
The Grand Touring trim is equipped with 20-inch alloys, front and rear parking and exterior chrome accents sensors. The top-spec Signature trim is the flagship model, the luxury on offer rivals vehicles from a segment higher. It brings in Auburn Nappa leather seats, a hand-stitched, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Santos rosewood interior trim.
The Touring trim comes additional creature comforts like leather-trimmed seats, 8-inch infotainment system with support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto. With the available smartphone integration, you don’t need to get the optional Touring package for navigation. These features will make your ownership experience a more pleasurable affair.
2020 Mazda CX-9 Engine and Performance
“In a segment where V-6 power is basic, Mazda took a risk by offering a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the CX-9's sole powertrain in the hope of gaining a fuel-economy advantage. It sounds gutsy and managed an impressive result in our acceleration testing where it scooted our Grand Touring test vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.”-CarandDriver
Mazda has decided to keep things simple in the engine bay. The automaker only offers a single-engine across all the trim levels. This 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 227 horsepower when you use regular gas and 250 horsepower with premium gas. The engine is smooth and offers massive low end-power. Mazda’s masterful turbocharger exhibits no sign of lag, making this diminutive motor perform like a larger V6.
All the power is transferred to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Unlike a few competitors, Mazda doesn’t offer paddle shifters. If you want to shift manually, you have to use the manual mode on the shifter. The 6-speed automatic is standard across the range but competitors like Honda and Toyota use 9-speed and 8-speed automatic transmissions on the higher trims. Mazda’s 6-speed is smooth and accomplishes its shifting duties without any hesitation.
3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6
2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder
227 hp @ 5,000 rpm
295 hp @ 6600
280hp @ 6000
288 @ 6500
260 hp @ 5,600
310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
263 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
262 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
254 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
277 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm
When we consider power output, Highlander offers 295 hp followed by Ford’s 288 hp output. On paper, Mazda CX-9 has the least power output but when we consider drivability the CX-9 has the best torque output in this comparison. It is really easy to drive.
The CX-9 hurls to 60 mph within 7.1 seconds, the quarter mile is achieved in 15.5 seconds. Leave the stats aside and as you get behind the wheel of a CX-9 you will find it to be one of the sportiest three-row crossovers in the segment. The entirety of its 310 lb-ft. torque is available as early as 2000 rpm. Unlike other crossovers, you don’t have to push the pedal to the metal to extract the last drop of performance from the engine.
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
2.4 L H4
(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Honda’s segment-best 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. Honda’s 3.5-liter I-Vtec needs to be revved to extract that segment-leading performance. Let’s face it, large three-row crossovers aren’t meant to be used that way. And when you compare the Honda Pilot with the Mazda CX-9 you will find the latter to be much-accomplished driver’s vehicle.
Ride and Handling
Compared to rivals like the Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse, the CX-9 rides and corners like it’s glued to the road, with precise steering requiring minimal effort to affect course change. The retuned suspension retains its impressive cornering ability, but now returns a gentler ride over rough pavement. At 199.4-inches, the CX-9 is the longest vehicle in this segment. Get inside one and you will be surprised to find how well Mazda has designed it. It hides its size so well. Mazda has gone a step forward and designed the CX-9 to actually offer qualities that are not prerequisites for a three-row family crossover.
And, while the CX-9’s turbocharged 4-cylinder isn’t exactly brimming with horsepower, its impressive 310 lb-ft of torque help move this big SUV with gusto, even when loaded down with passengers and cargo. The CX-9 handles better than other vehicles in its segment. The steering provides great feedback and lets you know the exact status of the front tires. If you push the CX-9 around corners, it will lean a bit but hold its line well. Visibility is good, you have wide side view mirrors and getting accustomed to driving the CX-9 wouldn’t take much time.
Mazda CX-9 tips the scales at 4317 lbs. and under emergency braking test it performed well. The CX-9 came to a standstill from 60 mph within a distance of 123 feet. When we compare the CX-9, we find that Mazda needs some improvement here. Ford Explorer, when equipped with stickier tires, pulls off the same feat within 108 feet. Honda Pilot does it within 117 feet.
Brake Front (in.)
Brake Rear (in.)
Curb Weight (lbs.)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
108 (With optional tires)
Unlike the towing trend of this segment, Mazda offers a lower towing capacity. The CX-9 can tow a maximum of 3500 lbs. Mazda sacrifices utility in favor of proving a more engaging driving experience.
2.5 L I4
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
2.4 L H4
2020 Mazda CX-9 Fuel Economy
2020 Mazda CX-9 is equipped with a 2.5-litre engine, it is larger only to Subaru’s 2.4-litre engine. Other competitors utilize a 3.5-litre V6 engine.The 2020 Mazda CX-9 relies on its turbocharger for middling fuel economy, but with an outdated transmission and no hybrid, it’s not quite enough. CX-9 pulls of a combined mpg of 23. Mazda can increase the fuel economy further by introducing a start-stop function.
Looking at the competition, the newly introduced Subaru Ascent delivers a similar fuel economy. It offers a combined mpg of 23.
2020 Mazda CX-9 Interior
“Pretty much everything about the CX-9's interior feels right and thoughtfully designed. This is a new benchmark for non-luxury SUVs, and other manufacturers should take notes on how Mazda makes the most of available space and how quality components all contribute to a favorable impression.”- Edmunds
Seating and Comfort
For a non-luxury brand, Mazda has done a great job. The interior quality of the 2020 CX-9 is surely class-leading. Soft-touch materials have been generously used across the cabin. The CX-9 can accommodate only 7 passengers. The CX-9 is a little low on utility. Unlike the competition, it only offers minimal space for storing miscellaneous items. When we talk about the first row, the seats provide good cushioning. The driver and passenger have heated seat and power-adjustable seats while the higher trims also offer ventilated seats. The Sport trim offers cloth upholstery while higher trims offer leather-trimmed seats and the top-spec Signature trim offers Nappa-leather seats.
Three-zone climate control is a standard feature, the second row can accommodate 3 passengers albeit there is a slight bump at the floor. The passenger sitting in the middle needs to adjust accordingly. The CX-9 doesn’t offer the best amenities for the third-row passengers. CX-9 has one of the lowest passenger volumes in the third row.
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
40/ 60.3/ 38.6
Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Unlike the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 doesn’t offer electronically foldable second-row seats. So, you to access the third row you need to pull a lever behind the seat and push the seat to make a passage for entering the third row. Although the Mazda is the longest crossover in the segment, it fails to provide good third-row space for the passengers.
Three-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter
Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade
Power windows with one-touch down/up feature
Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System
Push Button Start
Aluminium interior trim
Remote fuel-door release
2nd-row retractable window sunshades
Power door locks with speed-sensing auto-locking
The base trim offers a 7-inch touchscreen display and the higher trims upgrade it to an 8-inch display which comes with standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Mazda incorporates a dial-based controller for the infotainment system. You can use the touch screen only when the car is stationary, on the move use the controller. Like German cars, the volume dial has been placed adjacent to the shifter.
Bose audio system is a standard feature on Grand Touring trim and above. The floating infotainment screen gives the cabin a more upscale touch.
Some other infotainment features include:
SiriusXM Satellite Radio
8-speaker full-range door-mounted type sound system
Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio
2 USB ports
MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system inc. voice command
The Mazda CX-9 offers 14.4 cu-ft. of space behind the third row. The CX-9 offers something else, it is a better driver’s car in the three-row family crossover segment. The Mazda CX-9 doesn’t store as much as other competing crossovers in the segment. Ford Explorer offers the best in class – 21 cu-ft. of rear cargo space.
Cargo Volume (cu-ft.)
2020 Mazda CX-9 Exterior
“If you’re looking for a bit of elegance in your next family hauler, the CX-9 has it in spades. Dressed in Mazda's "Soul of Motion" design philosophy, the CX-9's sheet metal emphasizes sweeping forms, organic shapes and the idea of movement even at rest. We think it's beautiful.”-KelleyBlueBook
Dimensions and Weight
As many SUVs get more angular, the CX-9 makes do with hardly any straight lines, proving that curvy can still easily be beautiful. Unlike other manufacturers, Mazda has developed the CX-9 to be a little different three-row vehicle. The CX-9 follows Mazda KODO design philosophy and it is easy to spot the similarities with Mazda’s other vehicles. The CX-9 carries an athletic stance and really hides its size well with a beautifully designed exterior.
That big grille up front adds to the premium cred, yet doesn't seem overboard. The CX-9 is exceptionally handsome, especially for a crossover, so if style and features are paramount but badge is of little importance, this Mazda represents an appealing near-luxury alternative to many more expensive options.
Curb weight (lbs.)
Ground clearance (in)
Track width (in) F/R
CX-9 is at the heavier side in this segment, tips the scale at 4317 pounds. At 199.4 inches, the CX-9 is the longest crossover in this segment. Although it has a wheelbase of 115.3 inches it doesn’t offer the best cabin space in this segment. With 8.8-inches of ground clearance, the Mazda beats the newly introduced Subaru Ascent by 0.1 inches.
2020 Mazda CX-9 Safety
The Mazda CX-9 scores well on the safety tests conducted by NHTSA and IIHS, both. CX-9 scores an overall 5-star rating from NHTSA while it receives a Good score on most of the categories by IIHS. The 2020 CX-9 is equipped with features like Smart Brake Support, Lane Keep Assist, and Smart City Brake Support.
Side-impact door beams
Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection
Smart Brake Support
Child-safety rear door locks
Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control System and Trailer Stability Assist
Roll Stability Control
Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brake force Distribution & Brake Assist
2020 Mazda CX-9 Competition
Mazda CX-9 vs Honda Pilot
Honda Pilot produces 280 horsepower from its normally aspirated V6 engine. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. The 2020 Honda Pilot has incorporated many changes. Honda has a very intuitive infotainment system on offer but Mazda’s cabin feels more premium. The Pilot scores well on utility as it offers electrically operated second-row seats for convenient third-row access. But when we consider drivability, the CX-9 comes off as a better choice.
Mazda CX-9 vs Ford Explorer
Explorer is one of the oldest nameplates in this segment. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is rated for 288 horsepower. The Explorer offers a spacious cabin, decent off-roading capacity and the versatility of three engine choices. The Mazda has only one engine on offer – a 2.5-liter inline four. Ford Explorer offers more features than the CX-9 but it comes at a bigger price tag.
Mazda CX-9 vs Subaru Ascent
Subaru Ascent is the newest contender in the three-row crossover segment. It is powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine. Like CX-9, the Ascent is also one of the better driving vehicles in the market. And when it comes to standard features, Ascent is equipped with standard AWD, Subaru’s eyesight safety system and offers the better cargo and passenger volume than the Mazda CX-9. If you want a good-driving crossover without compromising on utility then Ascent comes off as a better choice.
2020 Mazda CX-9 Final Verdict
The CX-9 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine that makes 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. of torque. This Mazda is one of the better driving cars in this segment. The engine has the good low-end grunt and a powerful midrange. You don’t need to push the engine to its limit to extract its best performance.Mazda isn’t the best vehicle if the utility is high on your list. The maximum towing capacity is 3500 lbs. and unlike its competitors, CX-9’s cargo and passenger volume aren’t impressive.
The Mazda offers a well-built class-leading interior, plush ride and a well-engineered inline-four engine that cements CX-9’s image as a driver’s car. If you can compromise on utility a bit, then the Mazda CX-9 is a choice that will have you grinning ear to ear every time you get behind the wheel.