Known for peppy sportscars like the Miata and RX-7, Mazda has quietly been building its reputation in the SUV segment. The Mazda CX-9, the brand’s largest four-door family hauler, certainly adapts well to the new stylings that the company has brought to the lineup. For starters, they have done away with the boxy proportions of older years. Although it’s not a Miata by any stretch of the imagination, the CX-9 can still bring you the exhilaration of a sports car built for one. Except it will hold your entire family too. Let’s take a closer look.
The 2020 Mazda CX-9 is available with just a single power plant. It’s a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder that’s paired to a six-speed automatic. The turbo engine puts out 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. Towing capacity tops out at 3,500 pounds with this particular model.
Mazda offers the following paint colors on the 2020 CX-9.
- Soul Red Crystal Metallic
- Snowflake White Pearl Mica
- Machine Gray Metallic
- Sonic Silver Metallic
- Deep Crystal Blue Mica
- Jet Black Mica
- Titanium Flash Mica
Let’s consider the available trim levels. This overview will help you decide which 2020 CX-9 fits your lifestyle. And your budget. There are four different versions of the CX-9.
With an entry MSRP of $35,790, the Sport model includes features such as keyless entry, push button start, LED headlights, heated front seats and side mirrors, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a seven-inch touchscreen display. This model rides on 18-inch wheels and includes a variety of the safety features. More on those in a minute.
Choose the Touring model if you’re looking for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also found on this model are a nine-inch touchscreen, a sliding back seat, and a power liftgate. Front passengers will also enjoy a powered seat. The upgraded leather upholstery gives everyone a bit of that luxury feeling. Remote start can be found on this model as well, along with quad captain’s chairs. Though the 2020 CX-9 seats seven standard, opting for these captain’s chairs will bring your occupancy limit down to six. This trim starts at $37,610.
Heated captain’s chairs come standard on this model. It also offers amenities such as a hands-free power liftgate, a power-sliding moonroof, a premium Bose 12-speaker system, and satellite radio. There’s also navigation, power-folding side mirrors, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. You’ll be spending at least $43,450 for this almost top-of-the-line model.
This trim is only available in all-wheel drive. The Signature model gets you the best of what Mazda offers on the new CX-9. You’ll get everything you’ve seen so far, riding on an all-wheel drive platform and 20-inch wheels. Additional features include accent lighting, upgraded leather seating, genuine wood accents, and signature accent stitching. The full suite of safety features are available on this top-trim level as well.
Mazda should pride itself on the high marks the 2020 CX-9 has received. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) scored it high. The CX-9 earned high marks — that means 5 out of 5 stars — from the NHTSA in the overall safety rating. That rating was echoed in the 2020 Top Safety Pick award given to the 2020 CX-9 by the IIHS. Customers won’t find the CX-9 lacking when it comes to safety equipment.
For example, the 2020 CX-9 comes standard with the i-Activsense safety suite. It includes “automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.” Additional safety systems include a rearview camera, traffic sign recognition, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive headlights, and a surround-view parking camera system. Front and rear parking sensors are also available.
When it comes to sipping fuel, the Mazda holds its own in the segment. Front-wheel drive versions of the turbocharged engine will see about 22 city and 28 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG). Meanwhile all-wheel drive models suffer a two MPG hit, both around town and at highway speeds. Though that number certainly will dip when towing, we hardly expect CX-9 owners to utilize such a feature very often.
As with many of the entrants into one of the toughest segments to master, the 2020 CX-9 received both high praise and some fair criticism. Let’s check in with the experts to see what they had to say.
“The 2020 CX-9 is clearly the driving enthusiast’s family hauler,” proclaims CarandDriver. “Surprisingly light on its feet, it often feels as if you’re driving a smaller SUV.” Kelley Blue Book (KBB) echoed these sentiments, citing a “fun-to-drive factor that makes even short trips in the CX-9 memorable ones. A relatively lightweight body and sophisticated G-Vectoring technology combine to give the CX-9 impressive cornering abilities and a commendably comfortable ride.” So even though the CX-9 seems like it might suffer from lack of attention when it comes to the driving experience, the opposite is true. The same zoom-zoom juju that flows through the Miata finds its way into the CX-9 as well.
As with many competitors in this segment, there were some minor complaints as well. Edmunds noted the third-row seats “aren’t especially accommodating.” They also opined that the cargo space and towing capacity came up short. KBB referenced the Honda Pilot and Dodge Durango when comparing towing capacities — both models can tow thousands of pounds more than the CX-9. The Pilot, along with the Kia Sorento and Nissan Pathfinder, also is able to fit much more junk in the trunk.
However, in terms of overall value, the 2020 CX-9 fared well. CarandDriver experts pointed out the “upscale cabin that wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi.” The “CX-9 Sport base model is a great value,” says U.S. News. Edmunds echoed these praises:
“The Mazda CX-9 is about enjoying the drive. Its styling will turn heads, and the newly standard i-Activsense package brings extensive safety features. That’s a unique SUV blueprint, and shoppers will do themselves a favor by putting this Mazda on their list.”
In so many words, there’s a lot more to experience when it comes to the 2020 Mazda CX-9 than might first meet the eye.
The Last Word
Providing “real-world acceleration, when and where you need it most,” the 2020 Mazda CX-9 is hardly the penalty box most would consider it to be. Far from a compromise in power or a punishment when it comes to rationing fuel, the CX-9 continues to serve the needs of many families. We hope you’ve found the above review informative. However, be sure to check out your local Mazda dealer to develop your own side of the story. It never hurts to take a CX-9 for a spin, and determine whether it’s ultimately the car for you.