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2022 Mazda CX-9 delivers driving excellence, style and safety  Featured

Posted On Wednesday, 06 April 2022 00:30 Written by
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The 2022 Mazda CX-9 is among the most upscale three-row SUVs available from the non luxury brands, and offers an excellent driving experience. The 2022 Mazda CX-9 is among the most upscale three-row SUVs available from the non luxury brands, and offers an excellent driving experience. Photo courtesy of Mazda

With SUVs now the dominant vehicle in the automotive landscape, and bigger is better being the motto for many buyers — especially those with larger families — it’s no surprise that 3-row SUVS that can seat larger numbers of people comfortably remain in high demand.

In this busy segment, each automaker has their own approach to reach their customer base. For Mazda, a small but formidable brand competing in the segment with their CX-9 model, the emphasis is no different than the rest of their lineup — power and drive quality.

Just like smaller Mazda rides, the level of get-up-and-go in the power plant here is more than you’ll find in most competitors. And that’s by design.

I recently spent some time in a 2022 Mazda CX-9, and I’m back with a full report on how it stacks up in a crowded SUV category loaded with very strong vehicle options.


Even though the CX-9 hasn’t undergone a major redesign since 2016, it still looks very sharp — which is essential when competing against popular rivals such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Ford Explorer, and Chevrolet Traverse.

Whether you are looking at the outside or inside of the 2022 CX-9, the vehicle does not disappoint.

The exterior of my CX-9 test vehicle featured a bold, attractive design, including the unique hood overhang look that is a Mazda signature. It also had a shiny “Snowflake White Pearl” paint job that got a lot of attention. Overall, it’s one of the better looking SUVs available, and the rare SUV that actually stands out vs. the competition.

Exterior highlights on the vehicle included: 20-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated power mirrors with turn lamps, power auto-fold mirrors, hands-free power rear liftgate, LED headlights and foglights, a power moonroof, and aluminum roof rails.

Moving inside the vehicle, the CX-9 is the closest to a luxury car you will get in terms of design without choosing a luxury brand. There’s a seriously high-end look and feel throughout the interior, including classy wood accents incorporated into the design.

The third row is too snug for adults, but good enough for children. Second-row Captain’s Chairs are a very comfy option. Seating in the CX-9 can be for either 6 or 7, depending on configuration.

Another downside of the CX-9 is there’s less cargo room than you’ll find in some rivals. It offers 14.4 cubic feet of space with all seats up, and  71.2 cubic feet with second and third rows down. Those numbers are beaten by most competitors — for example, the Kia Telluride’s numbers are 21 cubic feet and 87 cubic feet.

Nappa leather trimmed seats are comfortable even on long drives, and you can opt for heated seats both in front and in the second-row captain’s chairs, plus a heated leather steering wheel, 3-zone automatic climate control, and second-row window sunshades.


The 2022 Mazda CX-9 features a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that offers 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque (with 87-octane gas), or 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque with 93-octane gas. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, but paddle shifters are offered for those who want more control.

New for 2022 is that all versions of the CX-9 will come with all-wheel drive, something most rival SUVs can’t claim.

Sport mode is offered if you want to add some pep to the already enjoyable drive in the CX-9, which features an independent front and rear suspension, plus front and rear stabilizer bars.

There’s also the Mazda G-Vectoring Control Plus feature, which allows the vehicle to better respond to steering inputs with subtle engine torque and braking changes — producing a smoother ride and more impressive handling.

Put all this together and it’s clear that — when it comes to ride quality and performance — No three-row SUV is going to match the Mazda CX-9’s abilities. I found it to be a punchy ride that got me moving quickly (about 7 seconds 0-to-60 speed), handled very well, and was responsive to driver input. The Sport mode really enhanced capability and quickly became my default setting while driving the CX-9.

Whether on the highways or the city streets, you’ll have fun behind the wheel of the CX-9, something rarely said about three-row SUVs. If you want a larger SUV and love driving, this is the one for you. I’d go so far as to say it drives as nimbly as some cars.

Towing is decent but not great, with a capacity of 3,500 pounds, a lower number than many rival SUVs.


The infotainment system at the center of the CX-9 is highlighted by a 10.25-inch color display. The physical commands are easy to learn, and are controlled via a dial in the center console. But I also think that this system’s controls could use an upgrade, as extra steps are sometimes needed to complete commands. And there is no direct access to the controls via touchscreen.

Thankfully, you have an alternative that doesn't require touch controls. Voice commands worked very effectively for using navigation, choosing music, making phone calls and finding Points of Interest along your routes. The navigation system is accurate and gets you where you need to go, and my test vehicle featured a Bose 12-speaker sound system with AM/FM/HD radio and available satellite radio. 

The system also was compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, for phone mirroring, and featured Bluetooth for streaming music and phone calls.

The vehicle also features an Active Driving Display that includes traffic sign recognition — showing the driver when a stop sign is coming, and reading speed limit signs before you approach them.

Safety is an area where the CX-9 delivers as well as any vehicle in the segment, starting with its five-star government safety rating.

You get a LATCH system for child seats, Anti-theft engine immobilizer, Tire pressure monitoring system, Blind spot monitoring system, Lane Departure warning system, Lane Keep Assist, Rear cross traffic alert, and Front and rear parking sensors. The CX-9 also offers anti-lock brakes, brake assist, dynamic stability control, traction control, trailer stability control, airbags throughout the vehicle, smart braking in front and rear, radar cruise control, and a 360-degree view monitor that is quite helpful in parking situations.


The official fuel mileage numbers on the Mazda CX-9 are 20 city/26 highway/23 combined. In the real world, I averaged a tick over 17 mpg.

These real-world numbers are lower than you’ll experience with some rival three-row SUVs, but the CX-9 also offers a better driving experience than those rivals, so it’s a tradeoff many will be willing to accept. And the difference isn’t even a massive number, so the impact is negligible.


The 2022 Mazda CX-9 I tested was priced a tad below $49,000, and was at the top Signature trim level. The base Sport model will start around $35K, and in the middle you can choose from trims including Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition and Grand Touring. This is a price range that I would expect from a classy SUV of this size, and is on par with competitor pricing.

The Touring Plus trim level is new for the 2022 model.

You also get warranties that are decent, but not up to par with the industry leaders.

They include a 60K/60-month powertrain warranty, and a 36K/36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty.


With its near-luxury styling, strong safety features, and a focus on driving performance, the 2022 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV that will attract buyers who are less focused on interior space/cargo and more on performance and comfort.

=== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2022 Mazda CX-9 
  • Price as tested: $48,830 (starts at $35,280)
  • Best feature: Classy, upscale design; Mazda’s signature oomph 
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Three-row SUV buyers who prioritize the driving experience over vehicle size and cargo room 
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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