Mazda CX-9 3rd Row Seating Review

The Mazda CX-9 is a great midsize SUV, but unfortunately its third row leaves a lot to be desired.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Mazda CX-9
is not a good three-row SUV. It only offers a cramped 29.7 inches of legroom in the third row. But if you can get past the snug rear seats, the CX-9 is a fun-to-drive, near-luxury vehicle from the good people over at
If you have a large family, you’ve likely realized few vehicles are qualified to transport your bustling brood from place to place. That beloved
in your driveway was probably swapped out for an
long ago. 
But if you’ve yet to make the leap to minivan life, you could always think about getting an SUV with third-row seating. Finding the right one can be difficult, though, which is why
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Read on for our Mazda CX-9 third-row seating review. We’ll give you precise measurements of the legroom and cargo space, and we’ll see how the CX-9 stacks up against other three-row SUVs.
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What is the Mazda CX-9’s 3rd row like? 

The Mazda CX-9 can fit up to seven passengers in its three rows of seating. The third row, however, is a bit cramped and the seats are fairly small, meaning it’s more suitable for small children than anyone else.
Third-row seating is standard on all CX-9 trim levels, but the Signature model swaps out the second row for captain’s chairs and can therefore only seat six people.

Space and comfort

Let’s get down to brass tacks: Is the third row comfortable? Just because it’s there doesn’t automatically mean it’s practical. Ideally, the third row should be spacious and comfortable enough for passengers to endure long road trips. 
Comfort might seem like a difficult thing to measure, but if we look at the legroom, headroom, and passenger volume, we can get a good idea of the third row’s roominess. 
Here are the interior measurements for a Mazda CX-9: 
  • Third row: 29.7 inches of legroom, 35.4 inches of headroom
  • Second row: 39.4 inches of legroom, 38.5 inches of headroom 
  • First row: 41 inches of legroom, 39.3 inches of headroom 
  • Total passenger volume: 135.1 cubic feet
As you can see, things are much more cramped in the third row than in the other two. One or two small children would probably fit just fine back there, but adults or bigger kids would be less than enthusiastic to ride in the way back.
Let’s compare and contrast the CX-9’s interior dimensions with some of its competitors in the midsize SUV market:
Starting price
Third-row legroom
Third-row headroom
Total passenger volume
Mazda CX-9
29.7 inches
35.4 inches
135.1 cubic feet
31.4 inches
37.8 inches
155.3 cubic feet
33.7 inches
38.3 inches
154 cubic feet
33.48 inches
38.21 inches
157.3 cubic feet
31.4 inches
38.1 inches
157.1 cubic feet
32.2 inches
38.9 inches
152.7 cubic feet
30.3 inches
37.3 inches
151.9 cubic feet
33.5 inches
37.8 inches
141 cubic feet
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Is the Mazda CX-9 good for big families and long trips?

The Mazda CX-9 is great for families with one or two small children, but the third row is cramped and there isn’t a lot of storage space.
Looking at the table, you can see that the CX-9 lags behind the competition in terms of passenger volume. It’s certainly a great SUV with responsive handling, standard all-wheel drive, and a captivating design, but when specifically comparing the third-row dimensions against some of its main rivals, it is found wanting. 
However, as an acclaimed SUV that won an
Editors’ Choice
award from Car and Driver, the Mazda CX-9 definitely has a few things going for it:
  • Distinct style: Both inside and out, the CX-9 is not your average grocery-getter. The outside is sleek, while the inside manages to be richly appointed yet simple at the same time.
  • Advanced safety and driver-assistance features: All CX-9s are equipped with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist. These features are tuned very precisely, and misfires are rare.
  • Fun driving experience: Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll notice that the CX-9 feels like a much smaller SUV. The brake response is confident, the cornering is smooth and responsive, and the acceleration has some surprising pickup—it’s able to go from 0 to 60 in a bafflingly fast 7.6 seconds!
At the end of the day, your family’s specific needs will decide whether or not the Mazda CX-9 is an ideal fit.

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