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The 2023 Mazda CX-9 is a third-row SUV with sleek style and dynamic performance. But the CX-9 isn’t for everyone. Those searching for the most cargo space or the best fuel efficiency won’t find it in this Japanese SUV. They will find a sport utility vehicle that puts the fun back in driving, whether running errands or cruising the highway.

Let’s explore the Mazda CX-9‘s unique attributes.

What reviews are saying about the 2023 Mazda CX-9

A green Mazda CX-9 parked in the woods.
The Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

Motor1 put the Mazda CX-9 through its paces and came away impressed, awarding it 8.3 out of 10 stars. While it received high scores for its design and performance, it lagged behind on comfort and pricing. But it ticked the right boxes for a specific type of driver.

The reviewer noted the Mazda CX-9’s appealing bodywork and how it’s one of the sharpest-looking sport utility vehicles on the market. Its wide grille gave a sports car vibe, while its taut proportions were more athletic than typical SUVs.

The CX-9’s interior—while acceptable—didn’t match the competition’s. The front seats were supple and supportive, but the reviewer felt they were sitting on them rather than in them. And the crowded second and third-row seats were less than ideal for hauling passengers.

Also mentioned was the infotainment system with rotary control, which the reviewer found cumbersome. And the wireless phone charger was a nice convenience while on the go.

Additionally, Motor1 was critical of the Mazda CX-9’s pricing structure. While the base model has an MSRP of $40,025 (with destination), the Signature version jumps to $49,735. The Signature trim test vehicle added Machine Grey paint and some accessories, costing $50,780, which the reviewer felt wasn’t worth it.

But the CX-9 excelled while driving.

Its turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four—with 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque—offered brisk acceleration, and the composed chassis stayed flat through the corners. The steering was precise and communicative and responded well to inputs.

Safety-wise, the Mazda CX-9 also impressed. A five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) offered reassurance. And Mazda’s i-Activesense safety suite—including rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and lane centering—provided advanced protection on the highway.

Although the 2023 Mazda CX-9 scored well overall, Motor1 felt it was better suited to enthusiastic driving than comfortable travels. They felt drivers who appreciate good handling and acceleration would be a better fit than those focused on cargo space and infotainment systems.

Who’s the ideal buyer for the 2023 Mazda CX-9?

Some SUV buyers may want a luxurious ride with the latest technology, soft suspension, and a spacious third row. But others could seek a balanced package of driving performance, sophisticated style, and innovative safety. For the latter, the Mazda CX-9 is an ideal vehicle.

Many SUVs are more luxury cruisers than driving machines. While that may get the job done by hauling people or gear, it can make for a boring ride. But the CX-9 adds a dose of excitement to the SUV segment, with a chassis and drivetrain that adds a little sports car to sport utility.

You should know the pros and cons before buying

Like any vehicle, the Mazda CX-9 has pluses and minuses.

While its firm suspension and taut chassis offer great handling, its ride quality doesn’t smooth out imperfections like some SUVs. And though its turbo engine offers spirited acceleration, it can be noisy as the revs climb. The CX-9 uses dramatic bodywork that sets it apart from standard SUVs. But some may prefer a more conservative look.

As a whole, the 2023 Mazda CX-9 is a well-rounded SUV that puts a little pep in everyday drives. For drivers who need a third-row SUV but want a lively ride, it’s a great choice.

But where the Mazda CX-9 truly excelled was driving.


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