8 Top Mazda CX-9 Competitors

The 2022 Mazda CX-9 is tough to compete against, but these eight models are good contenders to consider.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
With lots of style and generous infotainment and safety technology, the 2022 Mazda CX-9 is tough to beat. But in a growing field of mid-size SUVs, the competition is getting stiff and there are plenty of models with comparable quality, performance, and space to stand up to the CX-9. 
Take, for instance, the Ford Explorer, which brings more cargo space and a surprisingly powerful hybrid option. It’s appropriately priced and offers more configurations than the Mazda CX-9’s lonely four-cylinder engine that powers all the trims. Or the Kia Telluride, with an interior that’s befitting a luxury vehicle and a price that beats the CX-9 by thousands. 
To break down the best of the mid-size SUV lineup that the CX-9 competes against,
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Mazda CX-9 insurance costs
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1. Ford Explorer

Starting price: $37,005 to $55,125
Selling points: Nice, smooth ride and comfortable first- and second-row seats
Weak spot: Third-row seats are admittedly tight, the hybrid option is expensive
In classic Ford style, the 2022
Ford Explorer
offers buyers a nice selection of engine configurations, including the base-level 300-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, a higher-powered 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6, and a 318-horsepower V6 hybrid model
Along with satisfying each customer’s power preference, the Explorer also satisfies our taste for tech. Its practical and functional infotainment touchscreen offers everything you’d expect in a modern car and more with its stand-out suite of safety technology. You’ll get standard automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision warning, and more. 
MORE: How to build a custom Ford Explorer

2. Kia Telluride

Starting price: $34,725 to $44,625
Selling points: Luxurious and comfortable interior, surprisingly low price 
Weak spot: The ride feels stiff 
The Kia Telluride looks amazing inside and out. Its rugged appearance is paired with a plush, opulent interior that feels way more expensive than it costs. While its safety and infotainment technology features are plentiful, the car’s handling could stand to be somewhat more well-mannered. 
The stiff ride isn’t a great feature, but it’s part of owning a vehicle capable of light-to-moderate offroading. Don’t expect great efficiency from its V6 engine either—it isn’t shy about burning up fuel. But do expect impressive towing capacity, as the Telluride can pull up to 5,000 pounds.

3. Hyundai Palisade

Starting price: $34,895 to $48,585
Selling points: Third-row seating that’s actually comfortable for adults, nice interior
Weak spot: Only one engine configuration available, lots of wind noise
The Hyundai Palisade is yet another model that offers a stunning degree of comfort and luxury at bargain prices. Unlike many other mid-size crossover models, the Palisade offers third-row seating that’s appropriately adult-sized. There’s plenty of room for all your passengers in any seat.
The sole engine configuration is adequate but not impressive, with a 291-horsepower V6 that does the job but doesn’t deliver thrills. Still, the crossover is quick enough and can tow a respectable 5,000 pounds.
On the other hand, the Palisade’s safety technology is generous and comes with standard adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

4. Nissan Pathfinder

Starting price: $35,970 to $48,435
Selling points: Off-roading capabilities and plenty of cargo space
Weak spot: Steering responsiveness need improvement
Nissan Pathfinder
is a pragmatist’s dream come true. It’s great for moderate off-roading and overlanding, though its 7-inch wheelbase inhibits it from true recreational off-roading. Still, it has enough gusto to handle rough roads and rugged conditions, especially when equipped with four-wheel drive, which includes seven distinct driving modes for conditions like mud, sand, and snow.
The Pathfinder comes with one 284-horsepower V6 engine across its four trims and can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

5. Honda Pilot

Starting price: $39,375 to $53,165
Selling points: Decent fuel efficiency, standard adaptive cruise control
Weak spot: Unfriendly touchscreen interface, boring appearance
With the practicality of a minivan and none of the good looks, the
Honda Pilot
is a great pick for those who know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The second-row seats can be captain's chairs or a three-seating bench if you've got an especially long passenger list. It has a massive amount of cargo space and, oddly, 16 cup holders
Powered by a 280-horsepower V6 engine, the Pilot is quicker than it looks while remaining fairly fuel-efficient for its class.
MORE: Does Honda have a self-driving car?
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6. GMC Acadia

Starting price: $36,145 to $47,945
Selling points: Handsome exterior, generous tech features
Weak spot: Super-tight third-row seating
The 2022
GMC Acadia
looks big and bulky—until you try sitting in one of the third-row seats. But below-average legroom is nothing new among mid-size crossovers with third-row seating. What is new is the entry-level
SLE trim
, which replaces the old
SL trim
that used to serve as the base. It’s slightly better equipped with rear climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
It comes with five USB ports and standard onboard wi-fi, plus a suite of driver-assistance technology that includes standard automated emergency braking and pedestrian detection
MORE: GMC Acadia Denali ground clearance

7. Toyota Highlander

Starting price: $37,070 to $50,725
Selling points: A reputation for longevity, available hybrid
Weak spot: The hybrid is expensive and the seats are a little cramped
If you’re looking for seats for as many as eight passengers, excellent safety ratings, and a warranty that includes complimentary maintenance services, the
Toyota Highlander
needs to be on your shortlist.
It offers a respectable 5,000-pound towing capacity with its base 295-horsepower V6. The hybrid trim, though pricey, is decently powered, too, offering up to 243 horsepower and 36/35 mpg in the city/highway
The Highlander’s standard safety tech features include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a whole lot more. 
MORE: Toyota Highlander specs you should know

8. Chevrolet Traverse

Starting price: $35,095 to $52,545
Selling points: Spirited driving combined with decent fuel economy 
Weak spot: The base model feels somewhat cheap inside
If quick acceleration, cargo space, and fuel efficiency rank high on your list of wants, then check out the 2022
Chevrolet Traverse
. It delivers in all those areas, beating out much of the competition. Third-row seating is even arguably comfortable compared to what you’d expect from a mid-size SUV.
The Traverse’s quiet cabin is robust, roomy, and loaded with USB ports for the whole family, and the infotainment system is easy to use and well-equipped. The standard safety features aren’t as impressive as some other models in its class, but you can get higher-tech driver assistance systems as available add-ons. 

Mazda CX-9 vs. the competition

If you’d like a visual rundown of how the CX-9 stacks up against these eight contenders, check out the table below:
Starting price range
Engine options
Maximum seating capacity
Maximum cargo volume
Maximum towing capacity
Fuel economy (combined/city/highway)
2022 Mazda CX-9
$36,855 to $48,785
6 or 7 seats
71.2 cubic ft
3500 lbs
23/20/26 mpg
2022 Ford Explorer
$37,005 to $55,125
Four-cylinder or V6
7 seats
87.8 cubic ft
5600 lb
13/11/15 mpg
2022 Kia Telluride
$34,725 to $44,625
8 seats
87 cubic ft
5000 lb
21/19/24 mpg
2022 Hyundai Palisade
$34,895 to $48,585
8 seats
86.4 cubic ft
5000 lb
21/19/24 mpg
2022 Nissan Pathfinder
$35,970 to $48,435
8 seats
80.5 cubic ft
6000 lbs
23/21/26 mpg
2022 Honda Pilot
$39,375 to $53,165
8 seats
83.9 cubic ft
5000 lb
22/19/26 mpg
2022 GMC Acadia
$36,145 to $47,945
Four-cylinder or V6
6 seats
79 cubic ft
4000 lb
24/22/27 mpg
2022 Toyota Highlander
$37,070 to $50,725
V6 or hybrid
8 seats
84.3 cubic ft
5000 lbs
23/20/28 mpg
2022 Chevrolet Traverse
$35,095 to $52,545
8 seats
98.2 cubic ft
5000 lb
21/18/27 mpg

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