Anthony’s Analytics: 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Anthony’s Analytics: 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

by Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Mazda- 11/06/2022 


Go into a grocery store parking lot. Overwhelming, you’ll see a bunch of three-row, midsize crossover SUVs. Their popularity doesn’t seem to lessen anytime soon and almost every manufacturer has one. This is the same with Mazda. Throughout the years, Mazda has had the CX-9, their competitor to the Kia Telluride and Jeep Grand Cherokee L. As the largest vehicle in the Mazda lineup, the CX-9 is Mazda’s flagship vehicle. Since the competition has become fierce, how well does the slightly aged CX-9 do against all of them?


Mazda’s exterior design language looks excellent throughout its entire lineup, and the CX-9 certainly doesn’t disappoint. At the front, you have a large grille with horizontal slots and a large Mazda badge. There are silver accents along with slanted lights. This CX-5 was adorned in Snowflake White Pearl paint along with 20-inch alloy wheels. Looking from the side, you’ll see black cladding along with the bottom of the CX-5 and wheel arches. Even though the design is from 2017, the rear still looks handsome with a large chrome strip between the taillights and thankfully, no fake vents.


As with all Mazda’s, the CX-9 has a high-quality interior which is much better than the Toyota Highlander. Inside, there was a Deep Chestnut cabin and fake wood. The steering wheel is simple to use with buttons for the infotainment system and adaptive cruise control. Signature models have a head-up display that displays speed, speed limits, cruise control, and navigation. Analog dials adorn a central digital dial. It’s surprising that a 10.25-inch infotainment display can look small, but the display looks small compared to the massive cabin. Under the display are physical dials and buttons for the heated and ventilated seats along with a heated steering wheel. 


Anthony’s Analytics: 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD


Since this design is from 2017, there are some features that the CX-9 doesn’t have that other Mazdas have. First off, that small-looking infotainment system isn’t a touchscreen. For some, that isn’t a bad thing, but the rotary controller is also almost too-small. It works alright, but is hard to use for Apple CarPlay. It is great that the CX-9 has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with wireless charging. While there is a drive select switch, it only has normal and sport. Newer vehicles such as the CX-50 have an off-roading mode. In terms of seating, this had second-row captain's chairs which were comfortable and heated, but it was difficult getting to the uncomfortable third row.


Under the hood is the now-familiar 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. It produces 250 horsepower/169kW and 310 lb-ft/421 Nm. Combined with a six-speed automatic and AWD, the CX-9 gets from 0-60 MPH in around 7.2 seconds. This is a large SUV, and the engine seems like it really has to work hard, but it gets the job done. Overtaking isn’t too difficult, but the engine only garners 22 MPG. What really helps is the handling. There’s plenty of steering feel and the CX-9 handles better than a majority of its competitors. I think this engine just isn’t strong enough, especially compared to vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander. 


Anthony’s Analytics: 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD


Let’s get into what the Signature trim has. The first two rows have Nappa leather with diamond stitching patterns on the outer sides. You’ll see a 360-degree camera along with a regular backup camera. The second row has manually-adjusted sunshades and there’s a sunroof. The liftgate is power-operated and hands-free. You get plenty of kit in the Signature trim, but it comes at a price of $50,000. This is comparable to all other crossovers in its segment and is quite the deal with this being the top-of-the-line model.


Since there are a plethora of crossovers available, is the CX-9 in the Signature trim worth it? It is a handsome SUV that handles well. The tech is good, but not top-of-its-class. I enjoyed the Signature trim, but the $3,000 less Grand Touring trim would be a better purchase at $45,000. No matter the trim, the CX-9 has quality that far exceeds the price.  Mazda’s CX-9 may not be the top-of-the-class, but it is a competent crossover. I just wish it had some different powertrain options and an updated infotainment system.