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2016 Mazda CX-9 Shakes Up Three-Row Crossover Segment With…

The New 2016 Mazda CX-9 is going to make buying a Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot a little harder.


Every once in a while, an automaker will come into a segment with a new offering that pushes boundaries. Sometimes it is content advances like Subaru has with its excellent, and affordable EyeSight forward crash mitigation technology, or Hondas lane keeping assist, which from this tester’s point of view is the best in the world. Other times the changes are to the drivetrain. Nissan deserves credit for introducing the CVT and being the one to take the heat as the bugs got worked out. Along those lines, Mazda is about to introduce a new engine to a small turbo engine to a tightly-knit group of three-row crossovers which all use V6 engines, and its big change is fuel efficiency.

The new 2016 Mazda CX-9 AWD will increase its fuel efficiency by about 27%. The outgoing CX-9 AWD, which was a collaborative design with a lot of Ford influence, had an EPA combined rating of just 18 MPG, making it stand out as a gas-guzzler in this frugal segment. The new CX-9 AWD is rated at 23 MPG combined according to Mazda’s press release today. This number puts a pretty big gap between the CX-9 AWD and the Toyota Highlander AWD (20 MPG). The Honda Pilot AWD and Nissan Pathfinder AWD are closer at 22 MPG combined.

You will notice that we have avoided the term “fuel economy.” That is because the new 2016 Mazda CX-9 will come with a recommendation of 93-octane premium fuel. The term “economy” refers to the cost per mile of a vehicle for fuel, whereas efficiency only refers to the miles per gallon rating. With the others in this group rating their vehicles using regular unleaded, it is our opinion that Mazda has negated any real-world benefit of its fuel efficiency gains by requiring the most expensive fuel. That’s a shame.


car (not verified)    March 5, 2016 - 1:32PM

Not true , Mazda has confirmed , Fuel Economy on regular gas is the same as premium... torque number stays the same just power drop while fuel economy stays the same....

Chris (not verified)    March 5, 2016 - 11:52PM

Actually you can use regular fuel just fine. Premium fuel simply allows the engine to produce a little more horsepower. If I recall correctly it produces about 225hp on regular fuel and 250 with premium. Torque remains unchanged either way with about 300lb/ft available at a mere 2000rpm.

John Goreham    March 6, 2016 - 2:10PM

Thanks guys. I will go ahead with reporting the recommendation of the Mfg. If the CX-9's performance is not impacted by the lower octane fuel, then would it not make sense for it to be the Mfg's recommendation?

JJ Boy (not verified)    March 6, 2016 - 11:46PM

Mazda does not suggest or recommend that you use 93 octane fuel for the 2016 CX-9. In fact, they give you the choice of a lower 87 octane. The difference is just a few hp less that most users will not notice under normal driving conditions.

Sabbas (not verified)    March 8, 2016 - 9:03AM

You are misinformed. TFLcar has a video which includes and in depth interview with one of the Mazda Engineers. Perhaps you may want to reference that. The information you are sharing is incorrect. Operators will have the option of using anything from 87 to 93 octane which as other commenters indicated, does not affect torque. Horsepower below 3000 rpms is also unaffected and it is not until the higher RPM range that the horsepower discrepancy presents. The engineer cites about 225 peak horsepower on 87 octane and i believe around 250 peak horspower when using 93 octane fuel. The engineer suggested there is minimal different in acceleration.

John Goreham    March 8, 2016 - 10:47AM

In reply to by Sabbas (not verified)

I understand the issue. When Mazda performs its EPA mileage testing it will either use premium, and that is what the car's EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers and cost per year for fuel will based on, or it will use regular. I understand that many vehicles that recommend premium may use regular unleaded without damage with "slightly reduced performance." If Mazda feels that its new vehicle can use regular and achieve its best fuel economy it would be crazy not to use it in the EPA testing it will conduct. (Mfgs. do the testing, not the EPA, except in some cars EPA audits). I honestly don't care one whit about peak horsepower ratings in a three-row family crossover. Nor do most shoppers. This is not a performance vehicle, it is a family vehicle. Peak horsepower on various fuels is a separate, but related issue. You may note that the article does not mention horsepower.

John Goreham    March 17, 2016 - 9:52AM

Hi Folks. I have reached out to EPA to confirm if the CX-9 will have the same EPA ratings on regular if the vehicle is certified using premium during testing. Your comments deserve more investigation. Thanks very much.