2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

  • MSRP: $29,725
  • MPG City: 17
  • MPG Hwy: 24
  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Rating: 8.1

A number of changes to the interior and exterior were made to last year’s model to create the 2013 Mazda CX-9. On the outside, the refresh focused on the front and rear designs bring an even more aggressive and sportier look. New electronic features include a new touchscreen display and Pandora internet radio capability. In addition, several of the features that were previously optional now come standard. It has seating capacity for 7 passengers across 3 rows, the first two of which are comfortable for adults and the third is best suited for kids. With its attractive exterior, stylish cabin and agile and athletic performance and handling, it is considerably more fun to drive compared to its competitors (as most Mazdas are). The ride is quite comfortable while providing great cornering abilities, responsive brakes and direct steering. While many praise its powerful V6 engine, its fuel economy is quite underwhelming at 17/24 mpg city/hwy. The amount of cargo space available is also only average at best.

Pros and Cons

  • Sporty performance and handling
  • Stylish, quality interior
  • Long rear doors are inconvenient in tight spaces
  • Fuel economy should be better
  • Below average cargo space

Base Specifications

  • Trim: FWD 4dr Sport
  • Passenger Capacity: 7
  • Passenger Doors: 4
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/OD
  • Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
  • MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
  • Engine: Gas V6 3.7L/227
  • Horsepower: 273 @ 6250
  • Torque: 270 @ 4250 3.7L/227

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options

The 2013 model has 3 Trim Levels: Sport, Touring and the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim. Prices range from just under $30,000 to around $40,000 depending on the trim level and options that are selected. The CX-9’s fuel economy stands at 17 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg for highway trips. All trims are available in both FWD and AWD.

Sport: This trim comes standard with a three-zone automatic climate control system, cloth upholstery, leather steering wheel, a 5.8 inch touch screen infotainment system, roof spoiler, cruise control, a keyless entry system, 6 speaker audio system with CD player, anti-lock disc brakes, USB/auxiliary inputs and 18 inch wheels. All wheel drive vehicles come standard with a towing package that is an available option for FWD models. An optional package of features is available that includes 8 way power adjustable driver seat, heated mirrors and heated front seats.

Touring: The Touring trim adds a blind spot monitoring system, 4 way adjustable front passenger seat, a rear view camera, back up sensors and leather upholstery.

Grand Touring: This model offers heated leather front seats, a four way adjustable front passenger seat, bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a power lift gate, rain sensing windshield wipers, LED running lights, foglights, automatic dim rearview mirror, upgraded interior materials and 20 inch wheels.

Performance and Power Train

The 2013 Mazda CX-9’s firm yet accommodating suspension tuning and quick-ratio steering enables it to navigate corners more like a sport sedan than an SUV while handling bumps and potholes surprisingly well given its sporty tuning. Its sophisticated 3.7 liter V6, 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque engine gives it more than enough power to quickly and easily pass other vehicles and tow up to 3,500 pounds. The smooth shifting 6 speed automatic transmission comes with a manual-shift mode. In tests, the FWD model accelerated from 0 to 60 MPH in 7.4 seconds, while the AWD version took 8.5. The front wheel drive model gives you 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the freeway, which is average compared to other SUVs. The gas mileage drops to 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for all wheel drive.

Reviewer Comments

“Easily fulfilling typical family needs, the 2013 Mazda CX-9 also benefits from a healthy dose of driving excitement.”

– Edmunds

“Like many Mazdas, the large, three-row CX-9 crossover is more fun to drive than most of its competitors. While its underpinnings and powertrain are getting a little old, the styling has been updated nicely for 2013.”

– Car and Driver

“The 2013 Mazda CX-9 bucks that old adage about not having your cake and eating it, too. In the case of Mazda’s biggest vehicle, the CX-9 offers the roominess of a large SUV, yet boasts the driving dynamics of a smaller sport sedan.”

– Kelley Blue Book

Safety Features

On top of its considerable range of safety features, the 2013 model comes with the following standard safety equipment: stability control, rollover sensor, active head restraints, front-seat side airbags, full length curtain airbags and antilock disc brakes. Lane departure warning, forward obstruction warning and high beam control systems are new this year. The Touring trims benefit from the addition of a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring system and reverse parking sensors. The IIHS gave it the highest rating of “Good” for side and front impact crash testing, but a lower rating of “Marginal” for rear impact tests and roof strength. In brake testing, an AWD Grand Touring stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is an excellent result for its class.

Interior Design and Features

The interior is sleek, well-built and provides a slightly more upscale look and feel than many others in its class. The basic design incorporates a considerable amount of hard plastic trim, but this is offset by all major touch points being well padded and comfortable. The suede/faux-wood trim, textured dashboard and shiny panelling are nice touches too. The third row of seats is easy to access thanks to a one-hand release lever and the long rear doors. The second row is comfortable for adults as long as the front seats aren’t pushed back too far. There is up to an impressive 101 cubic feet of cargo space available when both rear rows are folded down. The touch screen infotainment center is located in the center of the dashboard and provides text message audio delivery, internet radio and Bluetooth/USB connectivity. Owners love the fact that you can easily relay text messages and phone calls directly from their smart phone.

Driving Impressions

According to buyers, the CX-9 provides the space, features and functionality required by a typical family. In addition, it provides a relatively quiet and comfortable ride both around town and on the highway. The exterior design is sleek and modern, while the interior is elegant and comfortable. With corner-carving and gripping acceleration that most people don’t expect from a large SUV, the CX-9 has the best combination of agile handling, precise steering, transmission response and power in its class. That said, the visibility to the rear left and right is limited which is typically the case with most other 3 row SUVs. This issue can be avoided by using the blind spot monitoring system on the Touring trims.

The phrase “fun to drive” doesn’t do this vehicle justice. Every trip you take is an exciting driving experience thanks to how connected you feel to the road. While it isn’t as fun to drive or look at as the CX-9, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse offers better safety ratings, more cargo space and a third row that is comfortable for adults.

Photo Gallery

Mazda CX-9 Front View

CX-9 Side Exterior View

Mazda CX-9 Interior Dashboard

Mazda Cargo Space

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