Most significant changes: Optional rear cross-traffic alert
Price change: $200 higher on Sport; $250 more on Touring and Grand Touring
On sale: Early October
Which you should buy, 2013 or 2014? 2013. The prices increases are modest on the 2014s, but so are the changes. The better deals should be on 2013 models.
Mazda refreshed its three-row CX-9 crossover for 2013 with new front and rear styling and a new dashboard design that includes a standard 5.8-inch touch screen. The changes are more modest for 2014: Rear cross-traffic alert is a new option, and the Grand Touring model has new 20-inch wheels.
The Mazda CX-9 has undergone a refresh for the 2013 model year. This doesn't equal a full redesign — even if TV and radio commercials make it sound that way. The reality is that small changes of the baby-step variety were made to the CX-9's outside and inside, but not wholesale changes, especially not to the third row. In the past, our team of editors has dinged the CX-9 for being tight on space in both legroom and headroom, as well as being difficult to access the third row.
The truth in numbers is hard to dispute. Not one interior dimension has changed between the "old" 2012 CX-9 and the "new" 2013 CX-9 and that includes the third row. Third-row dimensions are far roomier in the slightly longer Chevy Traverse and even the significantly shorter Honda Pilot. You can compare all four here.
But my family found the CX-9's third row to be flexible enough to make up for the shortness of space.
Last week's top four most-read reviews stayed put this week, with the 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Toyota RAV4 once again occupying Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala and 2013 Ford Escape holding fast in fourth and fifth. Meanwhile, at No. 7, our 2013 Mazda CX-9 review makes its debut roughly two months after first appearing on Kicking Tires, and the 2013 Ford Explorer returns at No. 10. Check out what was popular this week:1. 2014 Subaru Forester
A three-row crossover, the 2013 Mazda CX-9 successfully manages to handle seven passengers without feeling bulky or looking matronly, says Cars.com Family reviewer Courtney Messenbaugh. This crossover is agile and its 3.7-liter V-6 engine easily handles highway on-ramps. Courtney says the third row isn't the most comfortable, but anyone can sit back there for a short trip.
The 2013 Mazda CX-9 differentiates itself from other members in the large-crossover gym by throwing some cardio and calisthenics in with the weights — and though you might not know it by looking, it's a more well-rounded athlete for the extra effort. Cars.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger says the CX-9 has worked hard to compete in its market segment, though it hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves for its sportier, more agile driving dynamics. Opinions will differ on the look and comfort of the interior, but the fuel economy and navigation system disappoint. Read the review and decide if the CX-9 has what it takes to stand up to its competitively priced peers.2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
For 2013, the three-row Mazda CX-9's exterior has been updated. It's now surprisingly sleek, especially for a crossover. While the CX-9 can seat seven, it's not in a comfortable fashion. The third row has little legroom unless the second-row passengers slide their seat forward.
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
Mazda's largest crossover gets an update for 2013, but the changes are mostly cosmetic. What's most noticeable is its nose, which should look familiar.
The CX-9 borrows its restyled grille and front-end design from Mazda's new-for-2013 compact crossover, the CX-5. Cars.com reviewer David Thomas says the refresh takes the three-row crossover’s looks from elegant to cutting edge. Check out more pictures below.
Mazda's CX-9 has been an attractive choice in the three-row-crossover market ever since it debuted. It has held up well without a major redesign, and like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander last year, this year the CX-9 gets some updates.
Nearly every number on the spec sheet is identical to the 2012, from how big it is outside and in to the amount of horsepower coming from the same V-6 engine.
What's new is almost entirely cosmetic.
Mazda unveiled an updated CX-9 ahead of the three-row SUV's official debut at next month's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The automaker will launch the car Down Under later this year, but full details are still forthcoming. It will all but certainly show up in the U.S., which is a major CX-9 market, as a 2013 or 2014 model.
The SUV adopts the same Kodo design language as the smaller CX-5, with a taller grille whose framing branches into the headlights. The interplay looks good, but the CX-9's sizable front overhang diminishes some of the sportiness. Mazda promises improved "craftsmanship and interior design," which was already exemplary in the current car. But the automaker has yet to show interior photos.
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