2023 Toyota Highlander Defeats 2023 Mazda CX-9 in Many Key Areas

Are you considering getting either the Toyota Highlander or the Mazda CX-9? Find out how the three-row midsize SUVs compare in this 2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Mazda CX-9 head-to-head analysis. With its wide array of advantages, the Highlander defeats the CX-9 in many key areas.

2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Mazda CX-9

Front angle view of Moon Dust 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV
Moon Dust 2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

In this 2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV comparison, we evaluated several areas. This includes performance, gas mileage, towing, off-road capabilities, safety, passenger and cargo space, warranty coverage, reliability, and price.

Highlander vs. CX-9: Performance and gas mileage

Front angle view of Machine Gray Metallic 2023 Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV
Machine Gray Metallic 2023 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

On the performance front, the 2023 Toyota Highlander generates a higher horsepower output than the 2023 Mazda CX-9. It offers two engine options: a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine (265 horsepower) and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid (243 horsepower). In comparison, all CX-9 models come equipped with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 227 horsepower.

For efficiency, the Highlander has the advantage. The fully gas-powered Highlander has an estimated fuel economy of up to 24 combined mpg, while the Highlander Hybrid has a gas mileage of up to 36 combined mpg. In comparison, the CX-9 has an estimated fuel economy of up to 23 combined mpg.

Highlander vs. CX-9: Towing

The 2023 Highlander can tow more than the CX-9. It has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, compared to 3,500 pounds for the CX-9.

Highlander vs. CX-9: Off-road capabilities

The Mazda CX-9 is better than the Highlander for off-road use. For one, while a traction-enhancing all-wheel drive system is standard for all CX-9 models, it’s an optional feature for the Highlander. Also, for effective and safe driving over rugged terrain, the CX-9 has higher ground clearance than the Highlander (up to 8.8 vs. 8.0 inches).

Highlander vs. CX-9: Safety

Both the Highlander and CX-9 are safe vehicles. For the previous model year, both midsize SUVs earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, which is the highest possible IIHS rating. 

Highlander vs. CX-9: Passenger and cargo space

The Highlander is bigger than the CX-9, resulting in more interior space. It has a total passenger volume of 141.3 cu-ft and a maximum cargo capacity of 84.3 cu-ft. In comparison, the CX-9 has a total passenger volume of 135.1 cu-ft and a maximum cargo capacity of 71.2 cu-ft.

However, the CX-9 has a more upscale cabin than the Highlander, with a modernistic design, comfortable seating, and high-quality materials throughout the interior. 

Highlander vs. CX-9: Warranty coverage and reliability

For warranty coverage, both the Highlander and CX-9 have a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. However, unlike the CX-9, the Highlander has a free maintenance plan, with two years or 25,000 miles of coverage.

For reliability, the Highlander has a slight edge. It earned a J.D. Power reliability rating of 82/100, compared to 81/100 for the CX-9.

Highlander vs. CX-9: Price

Which midsize SUV costs more: the 2023 Highlander or the 2023 CX-9? The starting price of the 2023 CX-9 ranges from $38,750 MSRP for the Touring trim up to $48,460 MSRP for the Signature trim. 

For the 2023 Highlander, the official price information is not yet available. However, the 2023 Highlander will likely cost slightly more than the 2022 version. The starting price of the 2022 Highlander ranges from $35,855 MSRP for the L trim up to $49,510 MSRP for the Platinum Hybrid trim.

2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Mazda CX-9: Which midsize SUV is better?

In this 2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Mazda CX-9 midsize SUV comparison, the Highlander has most of the advantages. This includes advantages for performance, gas mileage, towing, passenger and cargo space, a free maintenance plan, and reliability. Conversely, the 2023 CX-9 has advantages for off-road capabilities and an upscale cabin.

RELATED: 2023 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2023 Highlander: Hi Big Brother!