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The burgeoning three-row SUV segment is filled with many worthy competitors. Two popular rivals include the 2022 Mazda CX-9 and the 2022 Kia Sorento. The CX-9 offers elegant styling inside and out, while the Sorento offers a host of tech-savvy features and a comfortable ride. I have had the chance to test out both SUVs recently, so here is a quick real-world comparison between the two.

2022 Kia Sorento front
2022 Kia Sorento | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2022 Mazda CX-9 has a more connected driving feel on the road

2022 Mazda CX-9 front view
2022 Mazda CX-9 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Mazda vehicles have always been known for their sporty handling characteristics and the CX-9 is surprisingly no exception. The CX-9’s steering feels sharp and it’s pretty agile given its three-row architecture and heavy weight. No, it’s not a sports car, but you definitely tell that there’s a little Miata influence when you get behind the wheel of a CX-9.

On the other hand, the 2022 Kia Sorento offers an easy drive with its light steering feel and plush ride. Overall, I was impressed with how composed the Sorento felt over road imperfections at any speed. But if you like your SUVs to feel a little more athletic, then the CX-9 is the one to get.

The 2022 Kia Sorento’s infotainment system is easier to use

2022 Mazda CX-9 infotainment screen
2022 Mazda CX-9 infotainment screen | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

If there’s one thing I don’t like about the Mazda CX-9, it would be its infotainment system. I like the 10.25-inch display and the minimalistic screen graphics. However, the dial to control it is annoying to use and some of the menus in the system are too hidden. For example, it takes three clicks just to get to the satellite radio channel menu and once you select a station, you have to go all the way back to the menu to select another one. Why couldn’t Mazda just put in a tuning knob?

The Sorento’s infotainment system is far easier to use. The screen is highly visible, there are volume and tuning knobs, and the system is a touchscreen interface as opposed to being dial-driven.

The Mazda CX-9’s interior looks more upscale

There’s no denying that the Kia Sorento has a beautiful interior that’s well-crafted and is leaps and bounds better than ever before. However, my Mazda CX-9 tester came with a white interior that looks far more upscale. I also prefer Mazda’s minimalistic design approach and it works well in the CX-9. Even the second row makes you feel like you’re in business class, which feels nice on longer drives.

Power-wise, both SUVs feel similar

2022 Kia Sorento engine
2022 Kia Sorento engine | Joe Santos, Motorbiscuit

The 2022 Mazda CX-9 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that produces 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque (with 91-octane fuel). The Kia Sorento is also powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, but it pushes out 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. And while you can see a difference in power between the two SUVs on paper, in the real world, they honestly feel the same. So, it’s the buyer’s choice when it comes to power.

It’s easier to get into the Kia Sorento’s third row

2022 Kia Sorento third row
2022 Kia Sorento third-row seat | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

One important part of buying a three-row SUV is how easy it is to get in and out of the third row. In this case, I found it easier to squeeze my 5-foot, 8-inch frame into the back of the Sorento than the CX-9. Children will have a far easier time, but any adults taller than me certainly won’t. Also, I like that the Sorento’s third row is easier to access by pushing a button on the second-row seats.

2022 Kia Sorento vs 2022 Mazda CX-9

I’ll admit, it’s a hard choice when picking between these two SUVs. However, I would go with the 2022 Kia Sorento due to its lower price point and a large number of features for the money. I also like that it feels a little more cavernous when sitting in it and its infotainment system is easier to use. The 2022 Mazda CX-9 is still an exceptional SUV to pick, so you really can’t go wrong when deciding between the two.


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