Updated January 2023: The Mazda CX-9 seven-seat SUV has been a strong performer since its 2016 launch thanks to plenty of interior space, generous standard features and a substantial 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
The CX-9 set the affordable large SUV space on a different course, trading the segment’s earlier sloppy dynamics and cheap cabin materials for Audi Q7 chic on a budget.
The CX-9 has one weakness. Diesel offerings remain scarceAs available in the two-row CX-5, it has the ability to deliver better towing power and return leaner fuel economy on highways.
While the obvious solution would be to push the oil burner under the CX-9’s bonnet, Mazda instead opted to build a stretched version of the CX-5 with a diesel option. A car we now know as the CX-8.. Built specifically for the Japanese market – where the widebody CX-9 is not sold – the CX-8 first arrived in Australia in 2018.
In February 2020, Mazda introduced a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to the CX-8 range to make it more attractive to urban buyers – also sourced from the CX-5. A facelift is set to land in Australia in March 2023.Also picking up visual cues from the smaller CX-5.
For those who don’t know, the CX-8 and CX-9 look very similar and serve the same family-focused mission, despite different powertrains. But there are enough differences between them to attract buyers who somehow can’t be bothered too much about what’s under the bonnet.
Let’s see how they stack up.
Go ahead with what interests you.
The facelift of the Mazda CX-8 is due in March.
what do you get
The CX-9 features six trim grades: Sport, Touring, GT, GT SP, Azami and Azami LE. Each has the option of FWD or AWD for an extra $4000 – except the Max LE, which is AWD only. Pricing from $47,250-74,710 Before on-the-road costs.
In October 2022, the CX-9 range was treated to some minor tweaks. The sporty GT SP grade was added with its red stitching, while the GT grade and above got a 10.25-inch infotainment screen.
gave The CX-8 is priced at $6760 with a starting price of $40,490 and $69,890 before on-road costs.
It originally only had two spec grades – Sport and Asaki – giving the CX-8 the smallest lineup in Mazda’s stable. This was expanded with the 2020 update to include mid-spec Touring and GT versions, bridging the huge price gap between the variants.
CX-9 Max LE
Two more variants were introduced in 2021: Touring SP and Asaki LE, which added some features to their names.
In January 2022, Mazda dropped the FWD diesel powertrain, which sold in much smaller numbers than the petrol FWD.
The current range sees all six variants (except the Isaki LE, which is AWD only), offered in either petrol FWD or diesel AWD, with the latter costing $4000 extra.
CX-8 Max LE
The entry-level CX-8 and CX-9 Sport grades of both cars are very well equipped and have a premium feel despite their trim. See how the different types are below:
|Mazda CX-9 vs CX-8 Sport Spec Battle|
|CX-9 Sport||CX-8 Sport|
|18 inch alloy wheels||17 inch alloy wheels|
|7-inch infotainment system||8-inch infotainment system|
|Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)||Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)|
|Satellite navigation||Satellite navigation|
|DAB+ digital radio||DAB+ digital radio|
|Heads up display||LED headlights and taillights|
|LED headlights and taillights||Halogen daytime running lamps|
|Halogen daytime running lamps||Fabric upholstery|
|Fabric upholstery||Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter|
|Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter||Three-zone climate control with rear air vents|
|Three-zone climate control with rear air vents||Push Button Start|
|Push Button Start||Six speaker audio system|
|Six speaker audio system||Rain-sensing wipers|
|Rain-sensing wipers||Reversing camera|
|Reversing camera||Power folding door mirrors|
|Power folding door mirrors||Auto dimming rear view mirror|
|Auto dimming rear view mirror||Tire pressure monitoring|
|Tire pressure monitoring||Adaptive cruise control|
|Adaptive cruise control||Lane departure warning|
|Lane departure warning||Rear cross traffic alert|
|Rear cross traffic alert||AEB|
The larger CX-9 comes standard with 18-inch alloys, while the CX-8 Sport runs on 17s.
The luxurious CX-9 Azami and CX-8 Asaki are each packed with features that are extra-cost options in some pricier Euro SUVs, such as; Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats, premium sound system, remote operated tailgate, multi-element LED headlights and 360-degree view parking monitor. LE flagships bring middle-row captain’s chairs.
The CX-9 Azami has 20-inch alloys, the CX-8 Asaki 19s. Both have a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Dimensions of the CX-9 and CX-8
The CX-9 is 5075mm long and 1969mm wide, making it 175mm longer and 129mm wider than the CX-8 (4900mm, 1840mm).
However, both have the same 2930mm wheelbase. It provides the CX-8 with the same legroom in the first two rows. The CX-8’s short and narrow shell compromises elbow room a bit, but makes parking a bit easier.
Space and comfort
Both cars are very quiet. The CX-8’s diesel naturally emits more engine noise, but it’s much quieter than the CX-5 diesel, with plenty of sound insulation reflected by the weight of the bonnet. They are also very easy to ride.
The CX-9’s front seats feel a bit wider and more accommodating, and the second-row seats feel more comfortable too – you sit in them while you feel like you’re sitting on the CX-8’s middle pew. .
Second row seats.
The CX-9’s second row is comfortable and offers good visibility with plenty of headroom out the front seats and side windows. In Touring, GT and Azmi versions, the central fold-down armrest has a handy storage bin and USB ports.
CX-9 middle row
The middle-row bench in the CX-8 has to be smart to make up for its small size. The bench can slide forward and backward, and the two-position backrest reclines 22-30 degrees from vertical. The rear doors open 80 degrees to facilitate access to the third row. All versions have a fold-down center armrest with storage and two USB sockets. The Asaki and Asaki LE have two heated outboard seats.
The range-topping CX-9 Azami LE and CX-8 Asaki LE have two very impressive power-operated captain’s chairs with heating and ventilation in the second row. Not only does this increase the level of luxury, it means you can anchor the child seats/baby capsule in place and still have easy access to the third row.
CX-8 middle row
Third row seats.
The CX-9’s third row offers usable accommodation for adults rather than being recommended only for children, while the CX-8’s rear seats are designed to accommodate occupants up to 170cm tall, which is more. But it makes it a little tight for adults. Once they squeeze in, most people will tackle a 20-minute run across town.
With plenty of legroom and elbow room in every vehicle, kids will have no problem.
Neither car has third-row air vents, but they do have dedicated vents in the second rows and independent air-conditioning controls that also benefit the rear seats.
Which one has the bigger boot?
With the third row in use, The CX-8 has 209 liters of luggage space.Which Mazda claims is just enough for two golf bags. There is also a sub-boot under the main boot floor with a large opening and 100mm depth, offering 33 liters of underfloor storage space, particularly useful for valuable or fragile items.
With the third-row seats folded down, available luggage capacity increases to 742 liters in the CX-8. Folding down both the second- and third-row seatbacks creates 1727 liters of space and a flat floor space for storing two bicycles. That last figure is slightly higher than the CX-9, thanks to the really flat-folding rear seats.
The CX-9’s extra width increases luggage space behind the third row to 230 litres. In five-seat mode that increases to a substantial 810 litres. Fold down the 60:40 middle row seats and there’s a van-like 1641 liters of space – enough to accommodate large pieces of furniture.
Both the CX-8 and CX-9 can load up to 2000kg braked, or 750kg unbraked.
Performance and fuel economy
The CX-9’s 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo uses just as little petrol. 8.4 litres/100 km (ADR 81/02 combined cycle), which is not bad for a large SUV.
The petrol engine responds at low speeds and pulls with enough guts for overtaking. It’s a sporty engine that works well with the six-speed automatic to give the CX-9 amazing acceleration.
The CX-8’s naturally aspirated 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine has significantly less power and torque, so it has to work harder, resulting in an official combined fuel economy rating of 8.5L/100km. is – the same engine in the smaller CX -5 uses 7.5L/100km.
The CX-8’s 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine (also shared with the CX-5) consumes just 6.0L/100km on the ADR 81/02 combined cycle.
While it may have a 140kW peak power figure, the diesel puts out a healthy 450Nm of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic, the grunty CX-8 diesel has no trouble towing even with a full complement of passengers.
Ride and handling
The Mazda CX-9 was hailed as one of the best-handling large SUVs at launch, and remains a genuinely good drive – despite its large and bulky centre. Its biggest strengths are a suspension that brilliantly blends comfort and maneuverability, and smart and precise steering – especially with AWD versions.
Despite its slightly smaller dimensions, the diesel CX-8 is almost 110kg heavier than the CX-9 due to the height of its diesel powertrain and the need for additional soundproofing. So it drives like a heavy, soft-riding CX-5.
The CX-8’s narrow footprint means it doesn’t feel as planted as the CX-9, but overall body control and general dynamics of both the diesel and petrol versions are good and capable of handling road imperfections. The narrow CX-8 is also one of the easiest seven-seat SUVs to park.
Should I be considering other competitors?
Both the CX-8 and CX-9 are good family SUV choices, but there have been some great new releases recently that are blown away by the CX-9 in the form of the previous generation.
Coming from the Koreans, the new Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe both offer hybrid powertrains and significantly improved dynamics over previous generations. The same is true of Toyota’s latest Kluger.
As for the CX-8’s rivals, Mitsubishi’s new Outlander is much larger than the car it replaces and, while the CX-8 isn’t quite as generous for seven, its dimensions are pleasantly spacious. are compact. The same can be said for the latest Nissan X-Trail, although it’s only available in lower-level trims with seven seats.
Both large SUVs have a place in the Australian market, and that’s reinforced by the fact that alongside the soon-to-be-arriving CX-8, Mazda considers a whole host of next-generation CX-60 and CX-90 SUVs. Current lineup.
Despite a lower starting price, as well as coming with both petrol and diesel engine options, the CX-8 is lagging behind the more expensive CX-9 in sales – but it’s helped drive those looking for a diesel three-row SUV into Mazda showrooms. Has achieved success.
Some of the things going against the CX-8 include less cargo space and the fact that the diesel isn’t the best choice if most of your driving is short inner-city runs. And while there’s a petrol version, it’s not quite up to the task of carrying a turbo in a fully loaded big SUV like the CX-9.