By on September 12, 2017

2016 Mazda CX-9 - Image: MazdaMazda is increasing the base price of its CX-9 flagship by $610 for the 2018 model year.

With more standard safety kit, Mazda’s $32,460 2017 CX-9 (after delivery) now becomes the $33,070 2018 Mazda CX-9.

But can Mazda, which sells the CX-9 at a slower rate than essentially all of its competitors, operate at an even higher price point? The second-generation Mazda CX-9 was already priced at a premium: $775 more than Pilot, $835 more than Highlander, $1,210 more than Pathfinder, $1,370 more than Durango, $1,585 more than the 2018 Traverse.

Mazda doesn’t seem terribly bothered. The majority of CX-9s sold in America are already top-spec Grand Touring and Signature models, higher-margin vehicles that are helping Mazda slowly craft an image as a premium mainstream brand, buoyed along by Driver’s Choice commercials and, as we can see now, CX-9s with $33,070 base MSRPs.

Since Mazda USA launched the overdue second-generation CX-9 in the summer of 2016, over 30,000 copies of the new three-row crossover have been sold in America.

Yet the rapid growth we saw from the new CX-9 early on in its tenure has already ground to a halt. 2016’s final six months represented the best second-half for CX-9 sales since 2012. Year-over-year,  CX-9 sales doubled during the first 12 months of second-gen CX-9 availability. But over the summer of 2017, we learned that the new model had seemingly peaked: sales since June have fallen 3 percent. Mazda is thus on pace to sell roughly 24,000 CX-9s in America in 2017, right on par with its historic annual average.Mazda CX-9 blind spot monitoring - Image: MazdaOne doesn’t expect a somewhat premium-positioned three-row from tiny Mazda to sell like a Ford Explorer, of course, which attracts around 22,000 monthly U.S. customers. But one would have expected the CX-9 to more quickly ramp up to Mazda’s own expectations. Mazda forecasted that 80 percent of the CX-9’s 50,000-unit global annual allotment would find its way into North America — that’s 40,000 annual sales in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Yet across the continent, Mazda is on track to sell only 30,000 CX-9s in 2017.

Regardless, Mazda has increased the price of the 2018 CX-9 on the grounds of including more safety features. An IIHS Top Safety Pick+, every CX-9 will now include automatic emergency braking — Mazda calls it Smart City Brake Support — and blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Mazda clearly figures that’s worth an extra $610, particularly as the CX-9, which Mazda claims is already among the quietest vehicles in its class, gets extra sound insulation and, Mazda says, easier access to the third row that was previously too snug.

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 Sport’s $33,070 base price rises by $1,800 if all-wheel drive is added. A Sport package costs $1,290. One trim level up, the CX-9 Touring now starts at $35,900. All-wheel drive is again an $1,800 option, and a Touring Premium Package is an $1,890 option. The 2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is priced from $41,410; $43,210 with AWD. Equipped in every case with AWD, the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature is a $45,255 vehicle, on par with top-end 2017 pricing.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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45 Comments on “2018 Mazda CX-9 Gets More Expensive, With Reason, but Will Consumers Pay Up?...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Growth is a blessing and a curse…Mazda still has that “Hey, what kind of car is that?!” factor from a lot of people. The CX-9, especially, is rare enough to turn heads and that seems to be the pace they’re still on. I always saw Mazda as a car people chose for its uniqueness, fun, plus the fact that they tend to finish toward the top of their comparison test groups. They’re pushing forward harder than any non-lux manufacturer in the US right now, and I think their slight premium is worth it. What’s another couple percent in price once you’re already in the mid-$30s? That’s the dealer list price for a cargo liner and some floor mats.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Given that every trim receives the turbo 2.5 those asking prices aren’t too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Just needs an AWD system that will send more torque to the rear wheels than 50% or so.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Why? Barely anyone that buys one of these will ever even use the marginal capabilities that AWD grants them anyway. CUVs aren’t intended to be taken off road.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          A heavier rear torque bias could benefit on road dynamics, turn in would feel different, maybe less tug at the wheel from torque steer. Now many owners might not care, but one could argue even the layman would appreciate the sensation in a way they couldn’t describe “turns nice” or “feels good on the road.”

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Like I said, barely anyone would notice more rear bias in an AWD system on a car like this. How do you think most people drive and do you honestly think anyone cares if it “drives nice?” CUVs are top selling vehicles and it ain’t cause they “drive nice.”

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          I think this is the misunderstanding of the modern AWD system.

          Not only do they move all 4 wheels and help with any amount of off roading, they are designed to help with the safety and drivability of the vehicle. Like the Acura SHto the new Lincoln that is always adjusting from front to back and wheel to wheel, they are all now making you a better driver around corners and in any kind of weather.

          I think people need to learn the truth about the AWD system they are buying or talking about.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Had a CX-9 rental in 2013, IIRC. I think it was a 3.7L NA engine at the time? Felt like it had enough power. Not sure if the 2.5T is better or not.

    As far as price, I dislike the “from $30k” when the model you want is $45k. That’s a significant bump. I can accept $3-4k in options – but when you can bump the price up 50% with options, that feels almost like Porsche/BMW.. They could probably save enough to knock $2k off the price if they only built the top 2-3 trims (price range of $38k-43k), and that would probably help them sell a lot more.. Then again, there’s a reason I’m not in product planning/sales :-)

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Have they added Carplay and AA yet? Also they need to add ventilated seats and up-size the center screen a bit; also thigh extensions would be a plus. Otherwise I like the cabin on the signature but they should off more color selection on the signature trim.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No one’s sure, but when CarPlay is released, it should be available as an update for all units with the current Mazda Connect infotainment system, which are the 2014+ Mazda3, 2016+ Mazda6, CX-5 and MX-5 Miata, 2017+ CX-9, and all years of the CX-3.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    4,242lbs and still powered by a mighty 2.5 I4 more at home in a 3,500lb Subbie Legacy (for contrast a Tahoe is 5,300-5,600 lb)?

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Did they improve the air cond. system ???? very weak in southern states
    I test drove one and was not happy with A.C. and lack of engine power

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Not just southern states.

      “The air conditioning strangely struggled, yea even failed, to keep up with 80-degree weather, as well, which is hardly the heights of summertime warmth on the Atlantic coast of Canada, let alone in Arizona.”

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/06/driving-2016-mazda-cx-9-signature-expensive-good/

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I still think that AC systems in cars and car based vehicles in the US have SUCKED since the death of R12 and systems that are trying to wring the last 0.1 of a MPG out of ever vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          I believe it. Our Honda A/C is horrendous at idle. When moving, it’s not as bad, but the compressor tends to cycle on a couple times a minute, which might be good for economy, but it sucks for comfort and A/C longevity. The best option is just to force the compressor on, not just use the “auto” function as recommended.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @ash78 – my 2010 Highlander (even with vents over all three rows) doesn’t do much of anything until you get moving.

            I don’t even bother trying to pre-cool things anymore if its a hot day. Roll down the windows, crank the AC, get moving, and in a few miles roll up the windows after you’ve chased all the hot air out.

            My old Celebrity on the other hand could fog up your glasses even with the silly high humidity I had to put up with in Ohio as a youth.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Even the Ram 2500 with the 6.7 liter Cummins has a sucky aircon when the going gets hot. Darned thing has enough radiator and cooling capacity to singlehandedly fight global warming, yet can’t keep it’s cabin cool though Nevada summers.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree with you, but R134a A/C at this point should be a no-brainer. Why do people put up with this crap again?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Wait until your try Y1234F…it is the worst yet. We have in the 2014 XTS Vsport and it is never cool enough. Fine for me as I don’t like it cold.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Honestly, that might just be the single biggest dealbreaker on a vehicle for me. There is no excuse for subpar A/C in this day and age.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          Not sure why we keep switching refrigerants around; I get why we stopped using R12 given that it’s a CFC and is pretty bad stuff. But cars have switched to R134a which was supposed to be safe and now they’re switching Y1234F? It’s not like r134a was nice (evidence shows exposure can be the catalyst for testicular cancer) and it seems that Y1234F has a nasty tendency to produce toxic gasses. Still, we have to pay a premium for the next exotic “environmentally friendly” chemical made likely by one company.
          Farmers used butane to run the AC systems in their tractors which is a hydrocarbon and bears no patent; enviro-friendly, depends on who you ask. It does make very cold AC however (used a canned version on an old Volvo that needed R12 and it worked like a charm, no did not blow up).

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            CFC’s are a potential atmospheric pollutant as are many other things. That being said, another factor was that DuPont was losing its lucrative patent on CFC’s. This is a major reason for the death of R-12. When the patent on R-22 was on the cusp of expiration a few years later, DuPont campaigned to also make R-22 die though somewhat later as the patent expiration date for R-22 was later. I was there and I remember.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            *Incoming conspiracy theory*

            Honeywells’s patents come up on expiration and all of a sudden they themselves are pushing for environmental studies showing how awful for the environment the previous refrigerant was. R12 and ozone, okay I get that. But R134a and being a greenhouse gas 1000x more potent than CO2 at retaining heat, who cares? How much R134a gets vented compared to how much CO2 is in the atmosphere or how much is procuded simple by plant and bacterial respiration (and human activities)? Absolutely irrelevant.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            How much R134a gets vented…

            ^This – except for actually severe collision events and some idiots who might puncture the compressor on an old refrigerator and let it all go, how much?

            This isn’t 1965 when Freon was so cheap guys would just open the valves and let it all go up into the atmosphere because it was easier than trying to suck it out. After R12 went out of production I can remember the HVAC guys I worked with while a college student worker trying to salvage every last drop of the stuff from buildings that were to be demolished etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “^This – except for actually severe collision events and some idiots who might puncture the compressor on an old refrigerator and let it all go, how much?”

            And even when they do let it all go, we’re talking about in the order of one pound of refrigerant per vehicle. 1000x worse than plain old soda bubbles that that may be, it’s just a pound.

            So that caustic refrigerant at $100 a pound is saving, over the vehicle’s entire lifetime, about the carbon equivalent of two fillups and a steak dinner.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Perfect vehicle to buy used. Similar to Cadillac or Lincoln. That $48k price tag will be $26 in two years.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’ve been car shopping for the past couple of weeks and the Mazda CX-9 is one of the cars at the top of my list. However, here in Michigan, supplies seem very low. No dealer I’ve checked seems to have more than 2-3 in stock and only one in the entire state doesn’t have a black leather interior. CX-5s seem to be their bread and butter. So sales may be low, but so are inventories.

    Personally, I don’t really put a lot of extra perceived value in those automated safety features, but both the CX-9 and CX-5 actually seem like value buys in the segment. They look (inside and out) and drive like vehicles from a class up in luxury and comfort. I don’t find them under powered by any means and I suspect most of the complaints about power come from people who haven’t driven them.

    After driving a CX-5 (before we decided to move up in size a bit) I went and drove the new Chevy Equinox to compare. The closest I could come in trim level to the Mazda’s Touring trim in the Chevy cost $5000 more (yeah… $33k sticker vs. $28k) and had horrible seats and the 1.5T engine felt like a bucket of bolts in comparison to the Mazda.

    I actually think the CX-9 compares favorably to a Volvo XC-90, much less a Traverse, when you look at the seat comfort and design.

    I think Mazdas have been winning comparison tests for very good reasons. Their cars do, in fact, drive well and feel like they are designed as a whole. There is a smoothness and consistency to the suspensions, secondary controls, steering, etc. that are still missing in other competitors. Yeah, many buyers don’t care, but I do.

    Their dealer network is still relatively sparse and are rarely focused on the brand (dualed with Ford, in my town). And, their cars are priced well but they don’t play the rebate and financing games as aggressively as other brands. Value for the money is there, but many buyers are looking for the “deal.”

    I have steered a few friends to drive Mazdas over the past few years when they were shopping. Without exception, not ONE of them has come back with any objections about the cars. They were all impressed. However, not a single one of them bought one. It usually came down to a better deal by a competing aggressive dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Bingo. Ever since the new CX-9 was released, a lot of people have called it a cheaper alternative to the European 3-row crossovers (Volvo especially) rather than a more expensive competitor to the mainstream domestic/Asian crossovers. Eye of the beholder, but I think Mazda has a good thing going with this approach. It’s what VW tried for quite a while, winning tons of comparisons but ultimately losing out to their own reliability problems (which Mazda doesn’t have…yet). Yet another similarity, a thin dealer network and little word-of-mouth “conversions” on sales because the mass market is usually scared of being different.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “They were all impressed. However, not a single one of them bought one.”

      I feel your frustration. I too have shown friends and family that the Mazda is a good choice, only to have them agree and then go buy a Honda or Toyota.

      As for the CX-9, I’m not in the market for a 3 row, but If I were, I wouldn’t have bought the previous generation — too much of a gas guzzler. But this one would be on my short list. And I would be comparing it to Lexus and Acura, rather than to Toyota and Honda.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    The base price in over all the smoke and mirrors. If you look at base models of everything you mentioned and a Mazda CX-9, the Mazda comes with a higher level of standard equipment than all of those mentioned. The Toyota actually comes with a very weak base model 4 cylinder. Now truthfully the V6 is of the other models may have faster 0 to 60 times. And I feel them may have slightly better gas mileage however none of them have both.

    By the time you equipped the other crossovers to equal the CX-9 they are more than well past the CX-9 price. Overall feature for feature the CX9 ends up being pretty much the barking up the bunch.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    I like the look and styling for what it is…but, has Mazda addressed the rust issue? And other issues of the past model?

    I own (wife’s) the previous generation CX-9. After 7 years I am starting to see rust emerge on the underside and painted surfaces. Many broken interior bits plus the brakes have never felt good – despite completely new rotors. The 3.7L Ford derived V6 is getting noisier (sounds like lifter noise) as well at 110k.

    Even so, I’m willing to give the new one a shot – at least a test drive mainly because it sounds like a clean sheet redesign. Zoom-Zoom.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    The third row i an already narrow and confined CX9 is bothersome.

    I would consider buying one, and I still might if I can find a great used price. However I don’t like the third row. I have more need for cargo and the fact that you can’t order one without makes my search more the Edge, Sorrento or even the Outback.

    I keep getting told to walk away from the Highlander if I have any love of driving while the new Acadia makes me want to wait for the next improved model.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I like the way it looks, and I have spent time in a friend’s first gen (post 2010 facelift), and I liked the way it moved and looked inside. It wasn’t luxury or anything but it was put together pretty well.

    But it was SO loud inside. And the sound system was meh. So, if it has more insulation and has more features for the price than the competition, then I might look at one.

    Question: are there any plans to use the Skyactiv-X engines in this? They are (allegedly) getting good mpg results from their tests. Something this size with near premium feel, standard safety features at all trims, and possibly 30mpg on the highway makes a more compelling argument across all trims levels, in my opinion. That would make it the segment leader for fuel efficiency, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelovescars

      You really need to see the new CX-9. In terms of design, comfort, quiet, and fuel economy, it is a whole other world compared to that previous generation… and the previous one drove really nicely. I think the new CX-9 is actually one of the quieter vehicles in the class, now.

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    I drove the CX-9 last year before buying my Audi S5 and if I had any use for a SUV, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the CX-9. I really liked everything about it and still try to rationalize fitting it in my garage.
    I did help my girlfriend pick out a small SUV over the last few months and she ended up going with the CX-5. I just don’t understand why they don’t sell better. The Mazda was favored by both of us over the Honda and Toyota in every respect. We took it out for 1k mile, long weekender last week. I drove the whole way and enjoyed every mile of the twisty mountain roads (including the Tail of the Dragon). Driving the CX-5 got me thinking about that CX-9 again.


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