CX-9 vs Competitors

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
I'm starting my research looking for input. Looking to replace and upgrade my current 8 year old SUV. My requirements include:

1. 3 row seating with bench seats in 2nd and 3rd row, although these will be rarely used
2. Heated seats and steering wheel, we have pretty darn cold winters
3. AWD, we get on average 130 inches or more of snow each winter
4. Needs to be reliable
5. Maintainable, i.e. easy to work on, I do all my own maintenance
6. Well manored, i.e. handles well and predictably

I'm sure there are other characteristics or options I'd like to have but those above are the important ones for my needs, any others are nice to have. Of course, price is a consideration and from what I can tell all of the major 3 row SUVs are similairly priced and we are fortunate here in Central New York where all dealer brands are discounted so I'll leave price out of our discussions for now.

There are a number of SUV good choices in this 3 row market so I'd appreciate your vehicle experiences both pro and con for any of vehicles in the segment. thank you all.
 

JPL

:
2018 Mazda6, CX-9
The CX-9 does check all of your boxes. If you don't need the maximum amount of space then the CX-9 is about the best choice out there. That said, the CX-9 has more than enough space for most needs.

Pros against competitors:
- Most reliable (rated by Consumer Reports), above the likes of the Highlander.
- Best handling, most fun to drive.
- Most Torque outside of performance Dodge and Ford models.
- Arguably the best looking
- Most premium interior

Competitors pros against CX-9 is basically limited to "a little more space".

The only other model I'd consider is the Telluride. A great all around package. If you have 3 or more kids, it may be a better choice as it has more rear space. It has a softer ride so doesn't handle as well as the Mazda. All depends on what you're looking for.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
JPL, thank you for your thoughtful response. I like what I've read about the CX9 and it does have more space than the 2 row rig I have now. The 2nd and 3rd rows will probably spend most of their lives being folded down. So even if the CX9 is somewhat smaller on the inside, its not a deal breaker like it might be for folks with big families.

You mention the Kia Telluride .... I sat in one (as well as the Palisade) at the auto show. They were nice on the inside, as well as, very roomie. They reminded me of a minivan, anyway they are a little too new for me. I would have given them serious consideration if they have been out say for 4 or 5 years with a proven reliability record. Here in Central New York we have 3 Kia dealers and 2 Hyundai dealers close to me, but I haven't seen many on the roads. Maybe I'll take look at them when I get ready to replace our other car, which will be in a couple of years.
 
:
North of Toronto
:
2019 CX-9 Sig
Some feel the Pilot AWD is superior. Some.

Personally I feel the difference in real world isn't significant, but we get maybe 130 cm of snow where I am. CENTIMETRES That much in inches is...........a lot.
 
:
2021 CX-9 Sig
:
2014 CX-5 GT
One thing that might work against the CX-9 for your situation is the remote start - not sure what system the Mazda uses now but people have complained about it in the past. I had the two key remote start on my old CX-5 and it worked fine but think it has changed. Should look into that if that is a factor.

The AWD system on the CX-9 is OK and with snow tires, should be fine in your situation.

The third row in our CX-9 spends most of the time down but is nice to have when needed. If you are going to have both the 2nd and 3rd rows down most of the time, you should have tons of room back there for skis, sleds, etc.

The Telluride/Palisade is a hard vehicle to get right now, which may explain why you have not seen many.
 
:
Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 2016
Poppy, sit in all of them. Take them all for a drive. I wouldn't swap away my CX-9, but there's a lot to like among the Pilot, Highlander, Telluride/Palisade. Which one fits you best? Which one feels best to you? If the technically best car just doesn't put a smile on your face sitting in it and driving it, it's not a good choice.

Well, maybe I would swap my CX-9 straight across for an F-Pace, or a Cayenne, or a GLS, or a Stelvio. 580 hp Levante Trofeo? OK!
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
Some feel the Pilot AWD is superior. Some.

Personally I feel the difference in real world isn't significant, but we get maybe 130 cm of snow where I am. CENTIMETRES That much in inches is...........a lot.
I've read some good things about the Pilot and it is very roomie. Your 130 cm or 50+ inches of snow is significant to warrant AWD for sure.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
One thing that might work against the CX-9 for your situation is the remote start - not sure what system the Mazda uses now but people have complained about it in the past. I had the two key remote start on my old CX-5 and it worked fine but think it has changed. Should look into that if that is a factor.

The AWD system on the CX-9 is OK and with snow tires, should be fine in your situation.

The third row in our CX-9 spends most of the time down but is nice to have when needed. If you are going to have both the 2nd and 3rd rows down most of the time, you should have tons of room back there for skis, sleds, etc.

The Telluride/Palisade is a hard vehicle to get right now, which may explain why you have not seen many.
I haven't researched remote start yet, but I do want it. My 8 year old SUV has it and I love it in the winter. I just have to remember to leave the heater and rear defrost on the night before.

I have to admit, some will say I'm a fool, but in 50+ years I have never owned a set of snow tires. It seemed that AWD seemed to do the job.I wish I could say the same about our snow plows.

I haven't visited any dealers, yet but their web sites seem to indicate pretty good inventory ... assuming their inventory is accurate. I'm hoping do that after Christmas.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
Poppy, sit in all of them. Take them all for a drive. I wouldn't swap away my CX-9, but there's a lot to like among the Pilot, Highlander, Telluride/Palisade. Which one fits you best? Which one feels best to you? If the technically best car just doesn't put a smile on your face sitting in it and driving it, it's not a good choice.

Well, maybe I would swap my CX-9 straight across for an F-Pace, or a Cayenne, or a GLS, or a Stelvio. 580 hp Levante Trofeo? OK!
I like your logic. It has a lot of merit to sit in them, drive them in the city and highway to see how they fit. I have to admit, I really like vehicles that handle really well. Its good have choices but in one respect, it makes it harder to have so many good choices. Its also great to know that you love your CX9.
 
I love my CX-9. I echo what most people said above.

With regards to the AWD. The Honda does torque vectoring, but I am pretty sure a CX-9 outhandle a Pilot anyway. I drive in a lot of snow and with good snow tire I can't fault my CX-9 AWD system.

Now in my opinion where people expecting great thing from this AWD get disappointed is in 2 place.
1. When they face snow with the stock tires. The tires are more geared towards the summer range and not great "all-seasons" tires. I had the rare chance to test both situation this year with early snowfall (before I had my winter tire on), and the difference was huge (I meant to write a little review here but haven't had the time yet.). I am not going to get into the debate of winter tires vs all-season tires, just saying that in my opinion if you think the AWD is doing terrible on the stock tires, the tires are to blame on this car.
2. Torque steer. If you have a heavy foot, there is a significant amount of torque steer when accelerating hard from a stop. On dry asphalt the AWD doesn't send enough power fast enough to the rear to prevent it. That's what you get from 310 lb ft of torque at 2000 rpm on a front wheel drive biased AWD system. In the snow it is not an issue since the car seems to predict accurately the snow conditions (for me anyway).

There are plenty of aftermarket remote start available. You can even install the Fortin remote starter yourself (search this forum for how to do it.) Only annoyance is that the remote start doesn't trigger the rear defrost on its own, and you can't set it in advance (including heated mirror and heated wiper blade area). But the heated seat you can set before leaving and the temperature and windshield defrost set automatically if set on auto.

The only other thing is you have to know and live with the fact that all the merits of the CX-9 come at the price of interior space and a bit less technology. If you where looking for a big 5 seater like me, then it is more than enough, but if you are looking for a dedicated 7 seater then it is on the small side. That's pretty much it's biggest downfall. The infotainment is a bit old and it doesn't have lane entering which is now standard on many other brands like Honda. I personally don't care for these 2 things. The CX-9 is perfect for me, it ticks the boxes that I care about.

Here's a photo of my November drive on stock tires. Cold morning with iced packed snow. You can judge if this is the kind of road you would get.
IMG_5408.jpg
 
:
North of Toronto
:
2019 CX-9 Sig
I have to admit, some will say I'm a fool, but in 50+ years I have never owned a set of snow tires. It seemed that AWD seemed to do the job.

As you mentioned, in inches where I am, it's about 50. But plowed very consistently, being in the built up suburbs. That becomes a factor. Someone who gets 50 inches a yr but rarely/poorly plowed, it becomes an amount that can be significant factor. Toronto is a bit like the hole in the donut. Couple hrs in any direction would see much more annual snow (for ex, as in Buffalo!!!!).

As for your 130 inches, no snow tires...maybe give it a try. AWD often will be sufficient I suppose to get going, but does zilch to make you stop. Stopping is the main concern for me.

Remote start functionality seems to vary, I'm not sure why. Mine was from Mazda Canada, dealer installed. Mine works without some of the hiccups reported. Light flashes indicate when its started, for ex. As well, no tricks to drive away. Get in, foot on brake, change gears and go. None of this needing to turn off and then on again as some have said. Dealer actually told me I'd need to do that. But I never did need to. If you're particular about functionality, look into the details from dealer but maybe also look into aftermarket.
 
:
North of Toronto
:
2019 CX-9 Sig
I am pretty sure a CX-9 outhandle a Pilot anyway.

Ain't this the truth. Also handles better than the (for the for some reason) legendary full time symmetrical AWD that strangely still leaves those cars driving like they're on marshmallows.

There are plenty of aftermarket remote start available. You can even install the Fortin remote starter yourself (search this forum for how to do it.) Only annoyance is that the remote start doesn't trigger the rear defrost on its own, and you can't set it in advance (including heated mirror and heated wiper blade area).
I did forget this. My dealer installed remote starter allows no heat systems on that I can tell. That is a bummer. Systems heat up quickly though since the engine is somewhat warmed.

If you where looking for a big 5 seater like me, then it is more than enough, but if you are looking for a dedicated 7 seater then it is on the small side.

My exact reason for buying. I just pretend the 3rd bench doesn't exist. Except when I make my father in law sit in it.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
I love my CX-9. I echo what most people said above.

With regards to the AWD. The Honda does torque vectoring, but I am pretty sure a CX-9 outhandle a Pilot anyway. I drive in a lot of snow and with good snow tire I can't fault my CX-9 AWD system.

Now in my opinion where people expecting great thing from this AWD get disappointed is in 2 place.
1. When they face snow with the stock tires. The tires are more geared towards the summer range and not great "all-seasons" tires. I had the rare chance to test both situation this year with early snowfall (before I had my winter tire on), and the difference was huge (I meant to write a little review here but haven't had the time yet.). I am not going to get into the debate of winter tires vs all-season tires, just saying that in my opinion if you think the AWD is doing terrible on the stock tires, the tires are to blame on this car.
2. Torque steer. If you have a heavy foot, there is a significant amount of torque steer when accelerating hard from a stop. On dry asphalt the AWD doesn't send enough power fast enough to the rear to prevent it. That's what you get from 310 lb ft of torque at 2000 rpm on a front wheel drive biased AWD system. In the snow it is not an issue since the car seems to predict accurately the snow conditions (for me anyway).

There are plenty of aftermarket remote start available. You can even install the Fortin remote starter yourself (search this forum for how to do it.) Only annoyance is that the remote start doesn't trigger the rear defrost on its own, and you can't set it in advance (including heated mirror and heated wiper blade area). But the heated seat you can set before leaving and the temperature and windshield defrost set automatically if set on auto.

The only other thing is you have to know and live with the fact that all the merits of the CX-9 come at the price of interior space and a bit less technology. If you where looking for a big 5 seater like me, then it is more than enough, but if you are looking for a dedicated 7 seater then it is on the small side. That's pretty much it's biggest downfall. The infotainment is a bit old and it doesn't have lane entering which is now standard on many other brands like Honda. I personally don't care for these 2 things. The CX-9 is perfect for me, it ticks the boxes that I care about.

Here's a photo of my November drive on stock tires. Cold morning with iced packed snow. You can judge if this is the kind of road you would get.
View attachment 233968
Youri, you raise some excellent points.

1. Snow tires: Most people on this forum have commented that they love snow tires. Unfortunately, I have never tried them and at this stage of my life I probably won't. But I should never say never.
2. Torque steer: I can see where this could be unsettling, especially in inclement weather. I have never experienced it with my old AWD SUV, but I suspect it is because it doesn't have much torque. So this will be a good thing to keep an eye on during my dealer test drives.
3. Remote start: I love remote start! I miss it on my wife's Audi. My wife insisted on a manual transmission, hence no way to implement a remote start feature ... I think. I'm wondering if the 2021 CX9 has an improved remote start. I'll have to make a list of questions to ask the dealer. Love to hear more from owners of the 2021 CX9.
4. Space and Tech: I've noticed in the Youtube CX9 review comments that these are the two areas people complain about the most. One reviewer actually calls them "zonks" a term I actually like. Anyway, the space in the CX9, on paper, is more than I have now and sufficient for my use, so I discount that one. And tech, I perfer to concentrate on driving and not have to look at a computer screen. Seems dangerous to me. I like to just get in the car, start it up then drive and not have to mess around with hundreds of choices. But that just me.
5. Photo: Thanks for the snow scape, that pretty much is Central New York from November thru April. Once it starts snowing here it doesn't stop. What I have noticed over the years is the snow doesn't stay on the ground as long as it used to. Hummm.... global warming? Who knows.
With your input I am armed with some great questions for the dealer.
 

Poppy D

2021 CX9 GT
As you mentioned, in inches where I am, it's about 50. But plowed very consistently, being in the built up suburbs. That becomes a factor. Someone who gets 50 inches a yr but rarely/poorly plowed, it becomes an amount that can be significant factor. Toronto is a bit like the hole in the donut. Couple hrs in any direction would see much more annual snow (for ex, as in Buffalo!!!!).

As for your 130 inches, no snow tires...maybe give it a try. AWD often will be sufficient I suppose to get going, but does zilch to make you stop. Stopping is the main concern for me.

Remote start functionality seems to vary, I'm not sure why. Mine was from Mazda Canada, dealer installed. Mine works without some of the hiccups reported. Light flashes indicate when its started, for ex. As well, no tricks to drive away. Get in, foot on brake, change gears and go. None of this needing to turn off and then on again as some have said. Dealer actually told me I'd need to do that. But I never did need to. If you're particular about functionality, look into the details from dealer but maybe also look into aftermarket.
GTA-CX9, You raise an excellent point ... stopping. Most people do have a tendancy to focus more on going, which AWD does a pretty good job with, but we forget about stopping. Ouch. Yes, I agree, all season tires really don't help here.

I have to say, I love Toronto! I was there a couple of years ago for a Paul McCartney concert. Living in the suburbs of Toronto must be great, you lucky stiff!
 
1. Snow tires: Most people on this forum have commented that they love snow tires. Unfortunately, I have never tried them and at this stage of my life I probably won't. But I should never say never.
2. Torque steer: I can see where this could be unsettling, especially in inclement weather. I have never experienced it with my old AWD SUV, but I suspect it is because it doesn't have much torque. So this will be a good thing to keep an eye on during my dealer test drives.
3. Remote start: I love remote start! I miss it on my wife's Audi. My wife insisted on a manual transmission, hence no way to implement a remote start feature ... I think. I'm wondering if the 2021 CX9 has an improved remote start. I'll have to make a list of questions to ask the dealer. Love to hear more from owners of the 2021 CX9.

1. I get it. I am not saying you need winter tires, but you may want to consider swapping the tires for a more well-rounded all-season tire if you will encounter a lot of snowy conditions. If you ever find the AWD isn't performing as you wish, the tires are probably at fault on this car. Another member on this forum who lives in New York states swapped his tires for a more well-rounded all-season model.

2. You won't really notice it in inclement weather, it gets too slippery for the tires to be able to put enough torque down to feel it (the tires slip before the torque steer can be present.) Honestly in the way I drive I almost never floor it from a stop, so it isn't and issue for me at all, but apparently some people do because it was a complaint by some on this forum.

3. They may have improved it. That would be good to know, but mostly it is because the temperature controls aren't as integrated into the car architecture as american cars. So the remote start can't talk to the temperature controls. My old ford edge would turn everything on based on outside temperature, my 2018 CX-9 can't. But with temperature controls set to auto it doesn't really matter that much, it just that my rear window isn't defrosted by the time I get in.

Good luck with your car shopping. That's always an exciting time for me when I do.
 
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