2017 Mazda CX-9 vs Acura MDX

The midsize crossover segment covers a fairly wide spectrum of models, but every luxury and mass-market manufacturers now seems to be upping their game to get a bigger slice of the growing market. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 might not technically be a luxury model, but plenty of people won't see the Acura MDX as being in the same class as the prestige German brands either, despite its genuine luxury credentials. So, let's see how they compare to see which one is the better buy.

2017 Mazda CX-9 vs Acura MDX

Exterior Styling

They say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, but if you're the 2017 Mazda CX-9 you don't need a second chance. The Mazda has an elegant appearance with a tall front end showcasing a delicate, highly detailed grille with LED lights on all models. The tapered fenders and a roofline that's pretty dramatic for a crossover square up with a wide stance for a planted, athletic, and almost Italian appearance.

The Acura MDX is getting better-looking each time it gets refreshed, but it's still in the transition phase between ugly duckling and beautiful swan. It's newly sculpted front fenders, new hood, LED fog lamps with restyled jewel-eye headlights, chrome rocker panels, additional lower-body trim, and twin-tailpipe design add a sportier feel, but the Mazda is still way more attractive.

Performance

The Mazda is a joy to drive, especially when things get a little twisty. The engine powering the CX-9 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four that spools up quickly to make the most of its 250 horsepower. Some technical wizardry is used to produce V-6-esque low-end torque despite the engine's modest displacement, and for the most part the Mazda is a smooth, quick operator.

There's a more old school approach adopted by the Acura with a more traditional 3.5-liter V-6 that develops a useful 290 horsepower. It comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that's pretty smooth most of the time, but the shifting isn't always as smooth as it could be and it can spoil the drive. With the steering also not transmitting a great deal of feedback to the driver, the Mazda is the winner by proving power isn't everything when it comes to performance.

Fuel Economy

Three-row crossovers are not exactly noted for their great fuel-economy, so it will be a welcome surprise to a lot of people to discover the numbers associated with the CX-9 are pretty impressive. In front-wheel drive form the EPA rates the Mazda at 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined, and those numbers only drop slightly to 20/26/23 mpg with the added capability of all-wheel drive.

In front-drive form, the Acura MDX is rated at 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined, or 18/26/21 mpg for all-wheel drive versions. There is a Sport Hybrid version of the Acura that obviously gets better numbers than the Mazda, but that's not really a fair fight so this round goes to the CX-9 again.

Interior Comfort and Quality

Somewhat unusually, the second-row seats in the 2017 Mazda CX-9 are probably on the generous side while the front and third-rows are a little tight. The CX-9 is fine for five people, but seven people probably wouldn't want to drive cross-country in there. The quality is pretty superb though, especially for the price. The materials are top-notch and the build quality is excellent.

There's ample room in the MDX's front and second-row seats, and folding the third-row away is a breeze in the Acura. The interior is very quiet thanks to active noise cancellation technology and lots of acoustic glass. The style, quality and comfort is just a little better than the Mazda, which does give the Acura the edge here.

Learn More about the Mazda CX-9

2017 Mazda CX-9 vs Acura MDX

Considering the Acura MDX is a luxury model and the 2017 Mazda CX-9 isn't, you probably should expect a little more from the Acura in terms of sheer quality and upscale feel. However, the only thing that doesn't seem like something from a luxury model when you examine the CX-9 closely is the badge on the hood. With the Mazda costing more than ten thousand dollars less than the Acura, it's not difficult to proclaim the CX-9 the winner in this match.

*Any MPG listed is based on model year EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery pack age/condition (hybrid only) and other factors. For additional information about EPA ratings, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/label/learn-more-PHEV-label.shtml.

** Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment Program. Model tested with standard side airbags (SABs). For additional information on the 5-Star Safety Ratings program, please visit www.safercar.gov.