Crossover & Midsize

The Mazda CX-9 Struggles to Keep up Against Competitors

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is here to compete against other three-row SUV rivals. Only it might be missing the mark in a few crucial areas. See how it struggles against the Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent, and more. 

Is the 2020 Mazda CX-9 a good SUV? 

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 performs well in some areas but falls behind the competition in a few areas. It has a starting price of around $33k, allowing it to compete against the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot, which both start around $31k. 

A Mazda CX-9 on display at an auto show.
A Mazda CX-9 on display | Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

However, Robert Duffer of CarConnection thoroughly tested the Mazda CX-9 Signature trim model, which starts around $46k. This model provides tons of luxury but is probably a lot better than the base model. It is a $16k upgrade, after all. Anyways, when testing the Mazda CX-9, Robert discovered that it lacked in terms of SUV capability compared to rivals. 

2020 Mazda CX-9 cons

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is small, even with its elongated nose. It has a short cabin height, making it feel cramped for taller passengers. The third row is extremely crowded, even for Robert’s children, who he recruited to help. 

While the third row is positioned over the rear axle to make exiting the vehicle easier, the seats have to be manually pushed forward. Rival SUVs have a push-button, making the process more convenient. 

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Behind the third row, cargo space is limited to 14.4 cubic feet. That’s incredibly small, especially compared to competitors with at least 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear. There are also only 139 cubic feet of cargo space total, while the next smaller SUV on the list has 150 cubic feet of cargo space. 

The captain chairs have a huge center console in between them, that takes away space. The Mazda CX-9 would be much more functional with an isle. Also, the sloping roof eats away at even more headroom toward the rear. 

2020 Mazda CX-9 interior rear
2020 Mazda CX-9 interior rear | Mazda

Robert also noted the Mazda CX-9 had limited and frustrating technology features. The analog displays don’t provide information as easily compared to rivals with large digital cluster displays. To see trip information, you have to go through a few different menus with the touch of narrow buttons on the steering wheel, which is time-consuming. This could also distract drivers. 

When using the radio and navigation system, Robert found them to be overly complicated. The gears are controlled by a clunky dial and are limited for safety as well. His model had Apple CarPlay disabled, so he was unable to test that feature. 

Mazda CX-9 pros 

It’s important to note that not everything with the Mazda CX-9 is bad. It is known for having a luxurious ride in comfortable, leather chairs. The interior is also incredibly quiet for a peaceful ride. The suspension also keeps the ride smooth. 

2020 Mazda CX-9 side
2020 Mazda CX-9 side | Mazda

Robert also noted that the 2020 Mazda CX-9 had a fun and sporty drive enhanced by the sport driving mode. He enjoyed the pickup and handling that the Mazda has to offer. It also comes with 20” wheels to improve cornering. While it isn’t as spacious or versatile as rivals, it may have a better performance on the road.