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When it comes to three-row SUVs, two 2023 models that are pretty comparable overall include the Ford Explorer and the Mazda CX-9. Despite the similarities that these two three-row SUVs share, the Ford Explorer has proven itself to be more popular among consumers in the US market. Here’s a look at the top reasons the 2023 Ford Explorer is more popular than Mazda’s 3-row SUV. 

A look at the 2023 Ford Explorer and the 2023 Mazda CX-9

The 2023 Ford Explorer features three rows and offers seating for a total of seven passengers. According to Car and Driver, the 2023 model is offered in eight various trim levels, including Base, XLT, ST-Line, Limited, Timberline, ST, Platinum, and King Ranch. Ford offers the Base trim level at a starting MSRP of $36,700. In contrast, the most expensive trim level is the King Ranch which has a starting MSRP of $54,525. 

The most comparable Mazda model to the Ford Explorer is the Mazda CX-9. Like the Explorer, the 2023 Mazda CX-9 is also a three-row SUV. However, it has the capability to seat eight total passengers compared to the Explorer’s seven-passenger capabilities. According to Car and Driver, the 2023 CX-9 model is available in five various trim levels, including Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature. Mazda starts the baseline CX-9 trim at an MSRP of $38,750.  

The Ford Explorer is more affordable than the Mazda CX-9

As far as three-row SUVs are concerned, the 2023 Ford Explorer and the 2023 Mazda CX-9 are quite comparable. However, it looks like consumers are opting to go with the Explorer more often than with the CX-9. According to GoodCarBadCar, Mazda sold a total of 7,523 Mazda CX-9 units during Q2 2023. In comparison, Ford sold 46,332 units of the Explorer during the same period. 

While some of the discrepancies in units sold can be attributed to nebulous reasons like the fact that Ford simply has better brand name recognition in the U.S. markets, there are some additional reasons that are a little more concrete.

One of the biggest reasons that the 2023 Ford Explorer is more popular than the Mazda’s three-row SUV is that it is simply the more affordable option. Consumers can get into a 2023 Ford Explorer for $36,700, while they have to have at least $38,750 to get into a comparable 2023 CX-9 model. 

The Ford Explorer provides better fuel economy than the Mazda CX-9

A second reason that the 2023 Ford Explorer is more popular than the Mazda CX-9 is that the Explorer provides a stronger fuel economy overall. According to Edmunds, the Explorer averages 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. In comparison, the Mazda CX-9 only averages 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined. 

So, while the Ford Explorer and the Mazda CX-9 are quite comparable, there are definitive reasons why the Explorer has proven itself as the more popular three-row SUV among consumers. In addition to the more affordable price and better fuel economy, the base trim Ford Explorer also provides more seating capacity and cargo space compared to the base trim CX-9. 

For example, the Edmunds data shows that the Explorer base trim provides seating capacity for seven and 18.2 cu-ft of cargo space. In contrast, the CX-9 base trim only allows for seating of six total passengers and 14.3 cu-ft of cargo space.

All things considered, the Ford Explorer is not only the more affordable three-row SUV for most consumers, but it’s also the higher performer overall. 


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