Deciding Between the 2019 Toyota Highlander and the 2019 Mazda CX-9 Is Easy

Now is one of the best times to buy a used car. And if you’re particularly interested in a family-friendly SUV with lower mileage, the 2019 Toyota Highlander and the 2019 Mazda CX-9 are standouts. These midsize SUVs have lower ownership costs and offer similar amenities. Though, it’s easy enough to decide between the two. 

Driving the Toyota Highlander vs. the Mazda CX-9 

2019 Toyota Highlander
2019 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Both the Highlander and the CX-9 are efficient, comfortable rides. However, the Highlander is known for its gentleness. The Mazda’s CX-9 has recently gained more popularity for its agility.

The 2019 Highlander is the last version from the model’s third generation; the fourth launched in 2020. Base 2019 Highlanders will have a 185-hp four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. This setup isn’t ideal for the Highlander’s beefy size.

For a more enjoyable driving experience, shop for 2019 Highlanders with the 295-hp V6 linked to an eight-speed automatic. Toyota updated this same powertrain for the newest generation. Highlanders with the V6 can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while models with the four-cylinder can only haul 1,500 pounds. Separately, the hybridized Highlander is the best choice for fuel economy. 

A silver 2019 Mazda CX-9 parked on the track.
2019 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

The 2019 CX-9 is part of the same generation as the new 2021 model. That said, you aren’t sacrificing as much as you would with the used Highlander. Under the hood of the CX-9 is a turbo-four that produces 227-hp with regular gas or 250-hp with premium fuel. 

A six-speed auto is also standard on the CX-9. This Mazda isn’t that powerful and can only haul up to 3,500 pounds. Even so, the CX-9 shines as one of the most athletic options in the class. As with the Highlander, you can shop for models with front- or all-wheel drive. 

The CX-9 provides a more premium feel

Sideview of the 2019 Mazda CX-9's interior.
A 2019 Mazda CX-9 with brown leather | Mazda

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Depending on the configuration you pick, the Highlander can carry seven or eight people. The CX-9 can accommodate up to seven. Out of the two, the Highlander wins for extra passenger and cargo room. But if you want more upscale trimmings, the CX-9 has the advantage. 

The CX-9 and the Highlander are standard with cloth upholstery. A fully-loaded CX-9 will have frills, including Nappa leather and authentic wood. You can also look for an upgraded Highlander with leather and additional amenities.

Sideview of a used Toyota Highlander with black upholstery.
Third Generation Toyota Highlander interior | Toyota

Regarding in-car tech, there’s give and take with either SUV. As U.S. News highlighted, all Highlanders come with active safety features, including automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Though, Toyota didn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as options. These smartphone integration apps are available on every CX-9 but the base trim. However, the CX-9’s infotainment display may take you some extra time to get used to.

The Highlander has stronger resale value 

2019 Toyota Highlander close up
2019 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

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Both the Highlander and the CX-9 have proved to be dependable vehicles. Still, the Highlander’s stronger history of reliability translates into higher resale value. The average 2019 Highlander ranges between $26,025 to $38,850 while the 2019 CX-9 falls between $21,800 to $30,325.

As Consumer Reports noted, resale value is a high point for the Highlander. And like we mentioned earlier, the Highlander is a better choice for towing. If you want a sportier driving experience and don’t need as much utility, the CX-9 is ideal.