Reviewers agree that despite being a five-year old-design, the CX-9 is still one of the best midsize SUVs you can drive. The CX-9 receives no changes for the 2012 model year.
Motor Trend says "it's a truly excellent package with no major strikes against it." The Mazda can hold seven people in comfort, has what some reviewers consider the best handling in its class and has an eager, 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 that provides plenty of power. A six-speed transmission is standard, and the CX-9 is available with front- or all-wheel drive. The exterior and interior styling still looks fresh, with good materials and build quality.
Experts find little to dislike about the Mazda CX-9. Its weak points only become evident when compared against some of the competition; for instance, some rivals have more cargo capacity, some get better fuel economy, while others have stronger crash-test results. The CX-9 also has an older, less intuitive navigation system than you'll find in some other current SUVs, and its 3,500-pound tow capacity is no better than what some smaller five-passenger crossovers deliver.
Overall, though, the CX-9 still performs admirably in all of these areas when compared to the average midsize SUV. That the aging CX-9 has won comparison tests as recently as 2011 against much newer competition is a testament to its all-around capability.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
V6 2WD: 17 mpg city / 24 highway / 19 combined
V6 AWD: 16 mpg city / 22 highway / 19 combined
Fuel economy estimates assume the use of regular-grade gasoline. While there are marginal differences in the city/highway ratings (the 2WD model does better by 1 mpg), both the 2WD and AWD versions of the Mazda CX-9 get around the same overall mileage.
NHTSA Safety Ratings:
Front Impact: Not rated
Side Impact: Not rated
Rollover Resistance: 4 stars
Overall: Not rated
As of this update, no government crash-test results were available for the Mazda CX-9, though a rollover resistance rating is posted.
IIHS Safety Ratings:
Front Offset Impact: Good
Side Impact: Good
Roof Strength: Marginal
For additional details, see our 2009 review
Because the 2012 Mazda CX-9 has carried forward largely unchanged for several years, the detailed analysis provided in our report on the 2009 Mazda CX-9 (*Est. $29,820 to $35,205) continues to provide the best summary of what experts have to say about Mazda's seven-passenger SUV.
Edmunds.com editors include firsthand driving impressions and list the pros and cons of the 2012 Mazda CX-9. Edmunds.com also offers a useful trim-level breakdown and summary of model-year changes.
Review: 2012 Mazda CX-9, Editors of Edmunds.com
Save for a few cosmetic tweaks, the Mazda CX-9 hasn't changed much for years now. As such, our full report on the 2009 Mazda CX-9 offers pertinent information on what the experts have to say about this SUV's ride, utility and all-around performance.
Review: 2009 Mazda CX-9, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, July 2009
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is projected to deliver around 19 mpg in all-around driving, with either two- or all-wheel drive, according to EPA estimates.
Review: 2012 Mazda CX-9, U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 has not been completely tested by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It receives a rating for rollover resistance, but has not been crash tested.
Review: 2012 Mazda CX-9, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the CX-9 the highest rating of Good for frontal offset and side-impact tests. However, the CX-9 gets a lower rating of Marginal for roof-strength tests; several other midsize SUVs perform better in this respect.
Review: Mazda CX-9, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety