2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature

With another couple of gears or dare we say, a well-tuned CVT, fuel economy could be better.
With another couple of gears or dare we say, a well-tuned CVT, fuel economy could be better.

by Jon Pangindian | April 20, 2023


This is the 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature. When the second generation CX-9 was introduced in 2016, it did so much right in a segment that was rather sterile. Mazda introduced a mid-size crossover that could seat seven passengers and elevated interior quality above the competition. It was a home run with enthusiasts that needed to haul several passengers while still maintaining some driver engagement.  Since then, competitors have come fast and furious and the CX-9 has been slowly left behind.

Thankfully, Mazda has recently unveiled its replacement, the CX-90. It’s a new design inside and out and has taken the industry by storm for various reasons. With one of the most attractive midsize sport utility vehicles on the market, Mazda did not make any significant changes to the CX-9’s exterior design over the past seven years. It looks more expensive than it is while retaining its sporty character. Where the new Honda Pilot is square and boring, the Mazda CX-9 is the complete opposite. While it lacks the off-road toughness that the industry has been chasing, the replacement CX-90 looks to fill this gap.

The CX-9 retains one of the best built and looking interiors of any mainstream sport utility vehicle. Materials used throughout are high quality and recent entries into the segment could learn a thing or two here. Our Signature trim comes with Nappa Leather, a quilted design and a Santos Rosewood trimmed center console/doors.

Buyers looking for tons of tech will be disappointed with the traditional analog gauges and frustrating to use infotainment controls. If Mazda wishes to win over consumers and critics, they need to make it easy to use like the systems found in the Kia Telluride or new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Thankfully the system is rather snappy and does include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however a wired connection is required.

Passenger and cargo capacity lags most of the competition due to the CX-9’s swooping, sporty exterior design which prioritizes design over function. The second row seats are respectable for adults but the third row is designated for children. Our Signature trim replaces the second row bench with two captain’s chairs limiting seating to six. With the second and third row seats up, cargo is suited to a few carry-on sized bags. This issue does plague the entire segment so those who really need three rows seating and ample cargo space may need to look elsewhere.

While the 2023 Mazda CX-9 may not stand on the podium with technology or practicality, it does still manage to put a smile on the driver’s face by remaining the only fun to drive option in the segment. Its handling capabilities will surprise those who get behind the wheel, and within limits, it can handle twists and turns with ease.

The CX-9 only has one engine option, a Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. Spend the extra few bucks for premium fuel and you unleash the full 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque; the CX-9 is penalized with less power and torque on regular grade gas; 227 and 310, respectively. The six-speed transmission does a fine job here getting the most out of this powerplant, though lags in gears when compared to its rivals.

With another couple of gears or dare we say, a well-tuned CVT, fuel economy could be better. During our test week, I achieved an 11.3L/100km in mixed driving. This is slightly worse than Mazda’s ratings of 11.6L/100km in the city; 9.1L/100km on the highway, and 10.5L/100km combined.

While we are testing the top spec Signature trim that starts at $54,050, buyers can jump into the entry level GS for a reasonable $42,050. The only option checked off here is the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint job for an additional $450. Price wise, the CX-9 sits in the thick of things with its immediate competition.

With the 2023 Mazda CX-9 Signature closing out as the driver oriented option of the segment, most people would mourn its loss. However, the upcoming CX-90 should alleviate any pain enthusiasts would have felt with the CX-9 heading out to pasture. With Mazda looking to move further upscale, don’t expect its replacement to be priced similarly. For those looking for a reasonable value in a fun to drive family hauler with some compromises, the CX-9 is still a great option.

See Also:

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Overland

2023 Honda Pilot Black Edition

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek

Vehicle Specs
Three-Row Crossover
Engine Size
2.5L turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower (at RPM)
250 at 5,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
320 at 2,500
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
The DoubleClutch.ca Podcast

About Jon Pangindian

Staff Writer

An experienced detailer and diehard car guy, Jon brings a creative eye to his new vehicle road tests. Aside from writing, Jon spends most of his time tinkering with new detailing products and experimenting with ceramic coatings.

Current Toy: ’13 650i Gran Coupé