2022 Mazda CX-9: IIHS Top Safety Plus and Dynamic Driving With Three Rows

Very few three-row midsize crossover SUVs offer impressive acceleration and driving dynamics, but the 2022 Mazda CX-9 does. While most vehicles in its class are happily plodding along, the CX-9 rockets to your desired speed, carves up the corners, and pushes the limits. All this takes place while you’re inside singing “the wheels on the bus” with your kids.

Safety is a priority in the 2022 Mazda CX-9 SUV

A red Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV.
A red Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV | Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Why can you drive along without a worry in this Mazda SUV? According to the Mazda media page, the CX-9 is among a handful of vehicles to earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS. This is the highest achievement for safety awarded by this organization. Mazda continues to show its commitment to safety by earning the distinction of Top Safety Pick+ across all tested models for the third year in a row. That’s quite an achievement.

A three-row SUV shouldn’t be this much fun to drive?

The impressive driving dynamics and acceleration of the CX-9 hit you pretty quickly when you’re behind the wheel. While offering room for the entire family, this vehicle feels light and springy on the road, giving you plenty of power and poise. The Mazda CX-9 comes with standard AWD, using the benefits of G-Vectoring Control Plus to send power to the wheels that need it. The result is a complete package of driving qualities not typically suited for an SUV of this size.

How much does a Mazda CX-9 cost?

Gray 2022 Mazda CX-9 on the road
2022 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

RELATED: How Much Does a Fully Loaded 2022 Mazda CX-9 Cost?

The Sport trim of the CX-9 gets you started at $35,280, while the Touring Plus model requires you to part with $41,660. If you want the Signature trim, you’ll start at $47,000 but can easily reach $50,000 when you add a few options to the mix. Kelley Blue Book tells us the Mazda CX-9 is priced right. A similarly equipped Honda Pilot starts around $39,000 compared to the CX-9 Sport, while the Toyota Highlander matches the Mazda price at just a little over $35,000.

What you’ll find in this Mazda SUV

Even though you’ve got an SUV that achieves the highest safety grade, this vehicle does have a couple of drawbacks. The CX-9 has a small third-row space. If you need room in this area for adults, this is not the SUV you want to drive. Additionally, the cargo room behind the third row is small compared to others in the class.

If you can get past the small rear seat and cargo area, you’ll see the Mazda CX-9 is stylish, a pleasure to drive, has high-quality cabin materials, and brings you a long list of standard features.

What comes standard in the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV?

White Mazda CX-9 next to a tree
White Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

You can select from six trims for the CX-9. Those trims are Sport, Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature. The standard package for the Sport trim gives you:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED exterior lighting
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Keyless entry
  • Push-button starting
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Heated front seats
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • 10.25-inch display
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Bluetooth
  • Two USB ports
  • Six-speaker audio system

As you can see, this is a pretty nice list of features for the base model of the CX-9.

The SkyActiv secret sauce of this midsize three-row crossover SUV

Mazda is famous for its SkyActiv technology in its engines. This technology allows the entire torque range to occur at lower rpm levels than other engines. For the CX-9, which means 310 lb.-ft. of torque is reached at 2,000 rpm. You barely have to step on the gas to feel this SUV rush off the line.

Should you drive the 2022 Mazda CX-9?

Do you need more than five seats? Are most of your family members nearing adult size? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, you should not drive the CX-9. Sorry, but your family will not feel comfortable in this SUV. A better alternative for you would be a Kia Telluride or Toyota Highlander.

On the other hand, if you don’t need more than five seats, the flexibility of the third-row can benefit your group and give you a quality driving experience in this Mazda SUV. You’ll be glad to have the support of an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winner, along with the dynamic driving experience that comes with the Mazda name.

RELATED: The 2022 Mazda CX-30 SUV Earns Top Safety Pick+ From IIHS