Mazda’s transformation of its U.S. lineup is complete, and the CX-9 three-row crossover is the latest model to be completely redesigned under the new “Skyactiv” ethos. This bit of marketing hyperbole represents Mazda’s aggressive weight-savings design techniques and fuel-efficient engine technologies, and every vehicle introduced under the Skyactiv banner has offered very competitive fuel economy. The 2016 CX-9 and its just-released EPA fuel-economy estimates are no different, as they put the CX-9 at the top of the gas-powered, three-row crossover heap.
2016 Mazda CX-9
The CX-9 is EPA-rated at 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive drops 1 mpg from each of those figures. That places the Mazda above the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Nissan Pathfinder. The front-wheel-drive Ford Explorer matches the front-drive CX-9’s 28 mpg on the highway, but that’s only with its optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine—the V-6 models and all-wheel-drive versions all fall short of the Mazda. The 2016 Kia Sorento, with its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive, manages to top the CX-9’s highway fuel economy by 1 mpg—however, a third-row seat is optional in that model with that engine, meaning that the EPA fuel-economy figures likely only account for the lighter two-row iteration; in any case, the Kia’s 24 mpg combined figure is lower than the CX-9’s, as is its 21-mpg city estimate. Mazda, for its part, claims that the CX-9 is more efficient than every other “non-hybrid, midsize, three-row crossover SUV,” which would seem to exclude the base-model Kia Sorento. Either way, the point is that the Mazda is one of the most efficient three-row family haulers out there.
Besides taking it to the rest of the three-row crossover field, the new CX-9 also handily beats the old CX-9’s fuel economy. This is partly due to its smaller, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and new six-speed automatic transmission (the old model used a Ford V-6), while the rest can be chalked up to the roughly 300 pounds Mazda stripped from the CX-9’s curb weight. The new engine’s turbocharger also uses a clever, cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) system to keep engine temperatures low, thus reducing the need to add extra fuel to the combustion chamber to cool things off; without wasting fuel on cooling, fuel economy improves. Go figure. Mazda adds that the EGR setup may not affect the CX-9’s EPA fuel-economy estimates, but the automaker thinks it will pay off in real-world use. We’ll find out soon enough—the CX-9 goes on sale this spring.
2016 Mazda CX-9