Long-Term Review

2018 Mazda CX-9 Ownership: Long-Term Introduction

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Brian Moody February 2018

In a world of increasing SUVs and increasingly luxurious SUVs, it seems like only a luxury brand will get you something worthy of an over $35,000 price tag. And that's exactly why we're adding the ownership of a 2018 Mazda CX-9 to our fleet of everyday test cars.

Why the Mazda CX-9?

Mazda hasn't typically been known for SUVs, historically hanging their hat on affordable cars with a little more of an edge when compared to brands like Toyota or Hyundai. Cars like the Mazda6, MX-5 Miata and the Mazda3 offer that certain something budget shoppers are looking for, especially those who can't really swing a new BMW. But that's changed in recent years, as Mazda has begun building car-based SUVs that offer all the cargo- and people-carrying ability of a typical SUV, but still retain that Mazda-ish quality of being fun to drive.

The number of available SUVs (both car and truck-based) is growing. Ten years ago, popular SUVs like the Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Buick Enclave, Ford Edge, Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek didn't exist, or were just being introduced.

It's the same story with the Mazda CX-9. It isn't exactly an all-new name, but it's recently updated and I've always thought of it as the best midsize 3-row SUV you can get. Block out the badges on the Signature model we ordered, and it comes off as more Infiniti or Lexus than a typical Mazda.

Sign Your Name

Mazda's top-of-the-range CX-9 is the Signature model. Other less expensive trim levels include Sport ($33,105), Touring ($35,935) and Grand Touring ($41,445). If you're suffering a little sticker shock, you might not have been in the market for a new SUV recently. Pretty much any midsize 3-row SUV with leather and a sunroof is in the $40,000 neighborhood. The Signature is $45,490 (all prices include a destination charge of $975) and has features above and beyond the Grand Touring model. Nappa leather, real wood interior trim, LED interior and exterior accent lighting and standard all-wheel drive are among the fancier features that set the signature apart from the other versions of the CX-9.

For comparison, the Acura MDX starts right about where the CX-9 ends with a base price of just under $45,000, and the new 3-row Lexus RX starts at about $44,000.

Initial Impressions

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 makes good initial showing. At first, the comparisons to luxury SUVs seem a little off. However, look at the CX-9's interior, and the comparison doesn't seem far-fetched at all. It's elegant beyond what the average person would expect from Mazda, yet still has that fun edge that we've come to expect from Mazda. In terms of driving dynamics, if you like the MX-5 Miata but need that kind of thing in a 3-row SUV package, this is probably your ticket.

No matter how you slice it, we'll have the usual ownership experience with the 2018 Mazda CX-9 for the next year as we run the 3-row SUV through all four seasons of kids, road trips, wayward fruit snacks, car washes, grocery runs, dirt roads and sippy cups.

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New 2018 Mazda CX-9 Touring
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Mazda CX-9 Ownership: Long-Term Introduction - Autotrader