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  • Looks; power and torque; interior; build quality; refinement; practicality
  • No diesel, torque-steer on FWD models, third-row access, poor user interface for infotainment system

7 / 10

2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

The 2013 Mazda CX-9 has had the company’s new family face pasted on, new standard equipment added in, and a fresh suite of blind-spot, lane departure, auto-braking and auto high beam active safety technologies offered on the flagship model – all designed to revitalise the five year old, seven-seat large SUV.

The Mazda CX-9 first arrived in Australia in late 2007 and is currently capturing 4.5 percent of the large SUV market. Yet the new-look model remains limited by a relatively thirsty V6 (11-11.2L/100km), and a lack of diesel-engine availability – this update really is just a ‘new look’.

Mechanically, the 2013 Mazda CX-9 is no different to the 2007-2012 model. It’s powered by the same 3.7-litre V6 engine with 204kW and 367Nm, transferring outputs to the same six-speed automatic transmission, with the same availability of front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD). However the previously six-strong spec range has now been simplified to just a pair of FWD and AWD variants each.

The entry-level $44,525 Mazda CX-9 Classic FWD costs just $100 more than the old model, while the $52,980 Luxury FWD variant, which now gets satellite navigation as standard, has come down in price by $1,345 compared with the model it replaces.

The AWD range starts with the $57,480 Luxury, $4,500 more than the FWD equivalent, while the flagship $63,828 CX-9 GT AWD has been raised by $2,200, mainly due to the addition of new active safety technologies.

2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

From the outside the facelifted Mazda CX-9 presents a cleaner and more modern look, a design language that Mazda refers to as Kodo (soul of motion), which the company has already showcased on the Mazda CX-5 and new Mazda6. But where those are all-new models, the CX-9 has simply had its Kodo bits grafted onto the existing body…

The front bumper grill, headlights, rear bumper and tail lamps, and exhaust extensions are the most obvious exterior changes. The LED daytime running lights (GT) and 20-inch alloys (Luxury and GT) also set the new CX-9 apart.

Mazda has also slightly updated the interior with a completely black instrument panel with white meter illumination. Metal, dark red decorative panels and suede inserts for the black leather interior have been added, successfully achieving a more upmarket look. Nonetheless, there’s still an abundance of hard plastics on the dashboard (but the contact points on the door remain soft) and the 5.8-inch colour LCD screen looks too small for a cabin its size.

Inside, the CX-9 remains a proper seven-seater with enough room to carry five adults in the first two rows, and two children or smaller adults in the third. We found adequate legroom for all three rows with the seats in realistic positions but access into the third row can prove a challenge for some.

2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

The Mazda CX-9’s driving dynamics differ significantly depending on drivetrain. The AWD models make good use of the V6’s high power and torque output with smooth acceleration and power delivery in nearly all situations while the FWD variants can feel unsettled when pushed.

We drove an AWD CX-9 on both bitumen and dirt roads and it behaved amicably with excellent front and rear power transitions for optimal grip. The FWD model, though, which has the exact same amount of power and torque but with drive going to the front wheels only, kicks back with torque steer out of corners and even going uphill when maximum power and torque is demanded.

The torque-steer is basically unnoticeable for everyday suburban commuting, but if you tend to be an aggressive or enthusiastic driver, the AWD variants would be the pick of the bunch.

The steering feel itself is pretty much what you’d expect from a large family-orientated SUV, slightly over-assisted with limited feedback, which is ideal for the target audience.

Ride quality is surprisingly good for an SUV that has had no real localisation tuning for our roads, unlike its Australian (Ford Territory) and Korean (Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe) competitors. It absorbs the bumps and potholes well and doesn’t present much lean in and out of corners. The V6 engine tends to make a bit of noise when pushed, but other than that, cabin noise and vibration levels are reasonably low.

2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

Mazda has added a USB port and upgraded the Bluetooth system, which can wirelessly connect to your smartphone for calls and streaming music. The satellite navigation system has been renewed with the latest maps by TomTom, which can be updated with a simple SD card; a good thing because when we asked it to help us find Melbourne airport it instructed us to use a closed-off restricted road which would’ve led us on to a runway. The Mazda’s handling isn’t quite sharp enough to dodge an incoming Airbus A380…

Coincidentally, TomTom also provides the core maps used by Apple’s new iPhone 5, which have been getting more than a few people lost.

The system itself is also a little counter-intuitive in its user interface design and we found ourselves pressing far too many buttons to get a simple destination programmed in. But at least the 277-watt amplifier and 10 speaker Boss sound system (including subwoofer) make up for it.

All variants include dual front, side and curtain airbags, 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control air-conditioning, auto headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, plus a reversing camera, but unfortunately only the GT gets parking sensors.

Mazda anticipates that 60 percent of buyers will go for the Luxury variant, which is well-kitted with satellite navigation, sunroof, leather seats with electric adjustment for the front pews, 20-inch alloy wheels, Bose sound system and power and heated mirrors that tilt down to make reversing easier.

2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Review

The GT gains daytime running lamps (LED), Bi-Xenon headlights, power tailgate (open/close), proximity keyless entry and engine start, in addition to a new array of active safety features.

These include blind spot monitoring (BSM), which can detect and warn the driver if another vehicle is driving in the CX-9’s blindspot and the driver has indicated to merge in their direction. Forward obstruction warning (FOW), which sees the Mazda’s computers detect a potential collision with a vehicle or object in front and audibly and visually warn the driver.

There’s also high beam control (HBC), which can automatically turn the high beam on and off when another vehicle comes in sight and Mazda’s lane departure warning (LDW), which will beep if you leave a marked lane without indicating (helping prevent unintended drifting).

Overall, the 2013 Mazda CX-9 range remains a strong and competitive force in the seven-seat large SUV segment. The updated styling, the availability of satellite navigation as standard on the mid-spec models and the genuine third-row practicality are all benefits which outweigh the lack of a diesel power plant.

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2013 Mazda CX-9 Review
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  • Sumpguard

    I wouldn’t describe looks as a plus CA. It’s taken a step backwards imo. I’m not fussed on their styling direction overall however some of the other models still manage to do a better job than the cx-9 of pulling it off. 

  • batman

    Looks like a weeping dog to me…

    • Sumpguard

      LOL I was thinking Snoopy when I saw the white one above!

      • Darryl

        Look Dad, there’s one of those Woof Woof cars

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          It looks a lot better in the flesh. 

          • Johnson

            I’d imagine that it would have to

          • Zaccy16

            i agree, in the flesh the cx9 looks very classy

  • F1orce

    They totally F****D up the design!

    Especially the rear!

    The pre-facelift model was quite an elegant looking thing.

    Also why did they change the rear exhaust tips from those classy looking ones to these cheap circle ones??

    Totally stupid

    • vrx26

      Might be surplus parts from the old CX7 – cost cutting.

    • Liam

      Yep definitely ain’t a looker from the photos. Looks like they adopted Toyota’s lame styling

    • Henry Toussaint

       Just as Ugly as the CX-5…..But I like this better than the CX-5

  • Matt

    and people think the new outlander is ugly

  • eve

    What a bunch of little wieners we have here posting, time to go to bed tiny tots.
    The CX-9 is a large SUV, no SUV can be called pretty.
    This Mazda will continue to sell very well.

    • Zaccy16

      yep it will and deservedly so, its only flaw is fuel consumption!

    • http://www.ozmazda.com/ OZM

      Totally agree with you eve……to a point……I think for a huge SUV its a great looking wagon. I test drove one yesterday and it rode the country roads around Orange with grace and flare. The power delivery from the 3.7ltr V6 was crisp when thinking its hauling 2 tonnes..the seats were supportive as this is not a sports car. I found the vision to be a little daunting at first as this is a huge beast but once behind the wheel and using the technology that Mazda has added it made it much easier. Planting the foot the V6 sings a great note and before you know it your upto speed……I can see that Mazda’s anticipation of 400 sales a month would be pretty close…..well done Mazda on making a family vehicle user friendly…..fun to drive and not bad on the eye…..

    • Norm

      Range Rover. Just sayin’….now…off to bed you lot.

  • Jt14

    Nice car but make sure you sell it before the warranty runs out. A girl at work has one and at six years old it needed an engine rebuild.

  • Madmal

    All they had to do was put a decent diesel motor in to triple sales but nope all too hard maybe next time.  The petrol pulls well enough but she’s a bit thirsty.

  • Martin

    Sloppy taillight design. 

  • Ben

    Overdone design, but still not bad and probably drive better than the most of big SUVs on the market. However, if Mazda has no plan for the capped-price servicing, unlike many of its Japanese siblings, I wouldn’t touch this SUV.

  • Arty Chase

    I agree ,I loved the old exhaust tips. Why go backwards when you already have tips that look awesome?

  • Barallonwarallon

    You can’t pigeon hole all CX9s, You dont know how she drove it, if she services it etc etc. She probably didnt know how to drive the thing. I have friends that have had a CX9 for years and it runs well, no issues whatsoever.

  • matt

    meaning this “girl” never had it serviced in its life….. they are a hardy motor, base model ford F-150 engine i believe

Mazda CX 9 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$27,610 - $31,380
Dealer Retail
$27,940 - $33,220
Dealer Trade
$21,500 - $25,100
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
366Nm @  4250rpm
Max. Power
204kW @  6250rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
11L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:2000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
245/60 R18
Rear Tyres
245/60 R18
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Trip Computer
Side Front Air Bags
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin