If you’re interested in a family-friendly SUV with all the latest trimmings, the 2016 Mazda CX-9 should be on your shopping list, as it’s well-equipped and fully redesigned for this model year. But what exactly is the difference between the all-new CX-9 and the outgoing 2015 model? And which one should you get?
To help you answer those questions, we’ve created a close comparison between the all-new CX-9 and the 2015 version.
On the outside, the CX-9 has undergone some major changes compared to the outgoing model — no surprise, since the 2015 CX-9’s design is almost a decade old. The new model is dramatically more modern in appearance, touting narrow headlights and taillights, a sportier side profile and a more aggressive front end with a larger grille.
While the new CX-9 and the outgoing model share the same general size, the two SUVs are otherwise easy to tell apart
The CX-9’s exterior has changed drastically, but Mazda has updated the SUV’s interior even further. While the old model used a fairly simple center control-stack design, the new version offers a lot more style and panache integrated into the dashboard and controls. There’s also a new infotainment screen perched above stylish center air vents.
Of course, the refreshed CX-9 also features improved materials, updated door panels, a new steering wheel and a larger interior with more space for all three rows of seats.
Like most models in the midsize SUV segment, the outgoing CX-9 used a V6 — in this case, a 3.7-liter unit that offered 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic. It returned up to 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with standard front-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.
The new CX-9 is unusual among midsize SUVs in that its sole engine offering is a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which delivers between 227 hp and 250 hp, depending on whether you use regular or premium fuel. Once again, a 6-speed automatic is the only transmission. Standard front-wheel drive returns 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy, while the optional all-wheel-drive setup gets you 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.
Features & Technology
Although the old CX-9 offered a surprising amount of technology for its age, the new 2016 model is at the front of the midsize-SUV pack when it comes to equipment. The new model touts adaptive cruise control, retractable sunshades, a heads-up display, lane-keep assist, adaptive headlights, a 12-speaker Bose stereo system and forward-collision warning with automatic braking, none of which you could get in the outgoing CX-9.
In other words, if equipment and gadgets are your thing, you’ll want the newest CX-9 over its predecessor.
On the road, the latest CX-9 presents a more complete package than the 2015 model. While performance is down due to decreased power output, the new CX-9 boasts excellent handling and roadholding capabilities for a midsize SUV. It also offers a highly improved interior with striking new touches that you’ll notice the moment you climb inside.
In fact, it’s hard to say the new CX-9 includes any drawbacks when compared to the outgoing model. In addition to offering more technology, a wide range of useful new features and improved fuel economy, the new cabin is just a better place to be, whether you’re a passenger enjoying additional leg and hip room or a driver basking in the improved controls and the graceful handling.
The latest CX-9 has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But the latest model clearly hailed from a different era, as it touted a mediocre 4-star NHTSA rating (compared to five stars for most rivals) and decidedly average marks from the IIHS as well, including a troubling Poor score on the firm’s small-overlap front crash test. We suspect the new model will do a lot better.
In fact, the 2016 CX-9 is already vastly improved in one key area: safety features. While the old version offered everything you’d expect (side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control) and a few modern features like rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system, the latest CX-9 boasts all of that and a lot more — including automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning with automatic low-speed braking and a backup camera that’s now standard rather than optional. Simply put, if safety is a priority, the new CX-9 delivers much more than the outgoing model.
This one is easy: The 2016 Mazda CX-9 represents a huge leap forward over the old model. While some redesigns are subtle and include only a few changes, the latest CX-9 touts a new look, an updated interior design, a long list of new safety features, a lot more technology, enhanced materials, better gas mileage and much more.
If you’re trying to decide between the new CX-9 and the outgoing model, we strongly suggest choosing the new version, unless you get a deal you just can’t pass up.