2007-2015 Mazda CX-9: reported problems, engine, fuel economy, pros and cons

Updated: September 12, 2022
This stylish seven-seater is not only roomy and practical, but sporty and fast. The 3.7L V6 propels the CX-9 from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Despite its size, the CX-9 handles like a heavy sports sedan, and offers a smooth and refined ride.
2014 Mazda CX-9 2014 Mazda CX-9.
The CX-9 has a fully independent suspension with 18" or 20" wheels and comes with front- or all-wheel drive. This is a family vehicle you can enjoy driving.

Is a used Mazda CX-9 a good choice? Gas mileage is not great, but it is expected from this type of vehicle. Maintenance costs are average for the class. The safety ratings are pretty good. Overall, It's a solid vehicle, but there are a few trouble spots to watch out for, please read further.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-9 Reported problems:

Front end repairs are fairly common. To keep the vehicle safe, we recommend having the vehicle inspected regularly, so that something like a loose tie rod end or a control arm can be caught early. Replacing one control arm will cost 1.2-1.5 hours of labor, plus parts plus the wheel alignment.

A faulty blower motor relay can cause the front or rear blower motor to stay on after the ignition is turned off. The repair is very simple: replace both blower motor relays in the main fuse box.

Corrosion at the liftgate handle can cause the liftgate not to close fully. If the liftgate handle feels like it's sticking, lubricating the pivot points can help.
2014 Mazda CX-9 interior 2014 Mazda CX-9 interior.

An A/C drain could clog up causing water to collect inside the main HVAC unit under the dash. The first sign is a slushing noise from the blower fan when turning left. The repair is to unclog the A/C drain.
We found several videos describing the repair. If water damages the blower motor, it will have to be replaced, which is not very difficult; the front blower motor is located behind/under the glove box. An OEM blower motor from Mazda is expensive, however cheaper aftermarket units are available.

The Check Engine light with the code P0451 is often caused by clogged up fuel tank pressure sensor. Often the problem happens after the vehicle has been rustproofed. It's not very expensive part and is easy to replace.

Corrosion at the one of the rear Blind Spot Monitoring System (BSM) modules can cause the BSM system not to work as well as many other electrical problems, including rough shifting of the transmission and several warning lights (AT, AWD, etc.) to come on.
There are two rear BSM modules at the sides of the car, behind the rear wheels covered by the rear bumper. If problems disappear when one the BSM modules is disconnected, the module is faulty. The part is expensive, but used modules are available on eBay.

A failed power brake booster can cause a hissing noise coming from the brake pedal area, a lack of brake assist and hard brake pedal. Replacing the brake booster will cost 2.5-3 hours of labor plus the part.

Power transfer output unit (PTO) leaks and failures have been reported by many owners. The power transfer output unit is a part of the AWD system. It's attached to the transmission. The replacement is quite expensive ($800-$1,100). In some vehicles, the power transfer units were replaced under warranty extension SSP 92.
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Early signs of transfer unit problems include a burnt gear oil smell and dark oil drops in the center area right behind the engine. When buying a used Mazda CX-9, check if the AWD system works and there are no leaks.

Failed ignition coils are mentioned by several owners. Changing the spark plugs within recommended intervals can help reduce the chance of ignition coil failures.

A rear heatshield could separate and rub on the rear propeller shaft, which could cause a screeching noise coming from the back of the vehicle. The heatshield will need to be replaced or re-secured. The repair is not very expensive.

Check for recalls at the NHTSA website.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-5 Engine:

The 2007 Mazda CX-9 was equipped with the 265-hp 3.5L Ford-sourced V6 engine. All later model years come with the 273-hp Ford-built 3.7L V6. It's a strong low-maintenance engine with plenty of low-end torque.

The only problem is that if the water pump fails at higher mileage, it will be expensive to replace due to its location: it's inside of the engine and is run by the timing chain. Replacing a water pump in this engine will cost 12-15 hours of labor plus the parts.

The oil capacity (with oil filter change) for the 2012 CX-9 is specified at 5.5 US qt (5.2 liters).

Timing belt or timing chain? The CX-9 V6 engine does not have a timing belt; it uses a timing chain instead. A timing chain doesn't need to be replaced unless it becomes stretched and noisy.

Is the 2007-2015 Mazda CX-9 a good vehicle to buy?

The CX-9 is a sleek solidly-built 7-seater crossover with a strong engine. As of September 2022, Consumer Reports rated the overall reliability of the 2013 and the 2014 CX-9 as 'above average', the 2012 CX-9 was rated 'below average', older model years were not rated.

We would recommend avoiding the CX-9 with high mileage, because if the water pump fails in the engine, due to its location, the repair will be costly. For the same reason, if your are buying a used Mazda CX-9, consider buying an extended powertrain warranty.

Pros: Sporty handling, good strong engine, plenty of room, refined ride, spacious third row, towing capacity, cargo space, safety ratings.

Cons: Thirsty, smart-card key system could be troublesome, 20-inch tires are costly to replace, transfer case (PTO) failures, water pump replacement costs.

Front-wheel drive models will be less expensive to own in the long run. Among competitors, the Toyota Highlander is more reliable and has a softer ride, but its third-row and cargo space is limited. The Ford Edge rides on the same platform as the CX-9, but it doesn't have the third row.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-5 Interior:

Inside, the CX-9 is very roomy, although the wide center console takes up some space in the front.  Three rows of seats are standard.
Mazda CX-9 third-row seats Mazda CX-9 third-row seats.
The split second-row seats slide forward and backward. The third row provides reasonable space even for adult passengers.

With the third row up, you get 17.2 cu. ft. of cargo space in the back, which is more than in the Toyota Highlander, but less than in the GMC Acadia/Chevrolet Traverse twins. Third-row seats fold flat for more cargo space. Second-row seats fold too, although not completely flat.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-5 Handling and Ride:

The CX-9 handles extremely well and is a pleasure to drive on long highway trips. The ride is on the firm side, but refined and fairly quiet. The first impression is like driving on rails.

Despite its heavy weight, the CX-9 feels quick off the line and sporty and secure on the road. The steering is precise and well-weighted. The AWD system is fully automatic and does not require any input from the driver. One thing we noticed though, the CX-9 all-season tires are not very good in the snow.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-5 Crash Test Scores:

The 2007-2010 CX-9 scored five out of five stars in the government crash tests and has a four star rollover resistance rating. Antilock brakes and stability control are standard.

Related reviews:
Dodge Journey 2009-2019
Toyota RAV4 2006-2012 review
Honda Pilot 2009-2015 review
Used Ford Explorer 2006-2010 review
Used Toyota Highlander 2008-2013 review
Used Mazda CX-5 2013-2016 review

What to look for when buying a used Mazda CX-9:

Check used car history records for previously reported accidents and service history. When checking the car at the dealer's lot, test all electrical features including the air conditioner, audio system, power liftgate and other features. Avoid high-mileage vehicles.

If the vehicle has a smart key entry system, test it carefully, as this system is prone to glitches. Make sure the vehicle has two keys, as an additional key is expensive.

During the test drive, watch out for humming and whining noises from the drivetrain. Read more: How to inspect a used car - illustrated guide. During the pre-purchase inspection, ask your mechanic to check for leaks and test the AWD system. Consider buying a good extended warranty for the powertrain to protect yourself from unexpected repairs.

Mazda CX-9 Maintenance Tips:

To keep your vehicle safe, have it regularly inspected; a quick check during a drive-through fast lube service is not enough. Watch out for leaks, if you notice drops on your driveway, have the vehicle checked out before lack of fluid that is leaking cause problems.

Recommended oil change intervals vary between 5,000 and 7,500 miles depending on driving conditions. The Mazda CX-9 engine uses the SAE 5W-20 oil type.

Check oil, coolant and power steering fluid levels regularly and top up if needed.
2014 Mazda CX-9 engine compartment map 2014 Mazda CX-9 engine compartment map.
The cabin filter is often neglected; it must be changed every 15,000-25,000 miles. Spark plugs need to be replaced every 60,000-100,000 miles, again, depending on driving conditions. This means that if you regularly drive in heavy city traffic, hilly terrain, dusty conditions, extreme hot or cold weather, your car needs more frequent oil changes, spark plug replacement and other maintenance. Timely spark plug replacements will help avoid more serious problems like failed ignition coils.

2007-2015 Mazda CX-5 Fuel Economy:

The 2015 AWD Mazda CX-9 is rated at 16/22 mpg. This means that on a highway trip, the CX-9 can drive up to 422 miles (679 km) on one tank of gas. See the fuel economy numbers in the table.
Fuel Consumption
EPA Fuel Economy: mpg
city/hwy
L/100 km
city/hwy
2011-2015 Mazda CX-9 FWD 17/24 13.8/9.8
2011-2015 Mazda CX-9 AWD 16/22 14.7/10.7
2007-2010 Mazda CX-9 FWD 16/22 14.7/10.7
2007-2010 Mazda CX-9 AWD 15/21 15.7/11.2