2017 Mazda CX-9 vs 2017 Toyota Highlander
2017 Mazda CX-9 2017 Toyota Highlander
  227 hp 185 hp
  22/28 20/24
  3500 lbs 1500 lbs

2017 Mazda CX-9 vs 2017 Toyota Highlander

Serving Cincinnati, OH, Florence, KY, and Fairfield, OH

Both the Mazda CX-9 and the Toyota Highlander are midsize SUVs. This category of vehicle is perfect for families with a few children because it's a balance of cargo size, long-haul ability, comfort, and value. They tend to cost in the $30,000 range and should have 3 rows of seats with the ability to fold some down for more cargo space. The CX-9 is Mazda's sporty midsize SUV and the Highlander is Toyota's mainstay vehicle in this class. Both are excellent choices, but the CX-9 has a few special advantages that set it apart.


Many midsize SUVs feel heavy and sluggish, especially on highways. This is the size point that some people call the crossover vehicle because it blends aspects of an SUV and a car, but in practice they tend to drive much more like SUVs. That isn't so for the CX-9. It has a sporty and fun response to the wheel and pedals, feeling agile and nimble. In comparison, the Highlander doesn't respond as quickly and you feel the weight of the vehicle more strongly.


Both the CX-9 and the Highlander have good interiors with some attractive comfort options, but the Mazda uses higher-quality materials, has a better design, and gives you more room in the 3rd row. It is common for the 3rd row to be cramped and too small for adults, and that's true for the Highlander. But in the Mazda it is quite possible for adults to sit in the back even for long trips without a problem. At the upper trim levels, the CX-9 uses wood, metal, and leather, not imitations, and it feels luxurious. The Highlander doesn't have that same atmosphere, most notably due to the use of lower-level materials.


The Mazda CX-9 is one of the best midsize SUVs at getting miles out of its gallons. It can manage 22 miles per gallon on city roads and 28 on the highway. In comparison the Highlander gets 19 in the city and 24 on the highway. There is a version of the Highlander that has a hybrid engine that is significant more efficient, but that also adds thousands of dollars to the price tag, so it's questionable if it is worth the upgrade.

Both of these midsize SUVs make good vehicles for the family. They are safe, affordable, and spacious. But the Mazda CX-9 is a more fun choice for the driver and more comfortable for the passengers, and it'll save you money on gas in the long term. That means for most people looking to buy a new 2017 midsize SUV, the CX-9 will be the better option.

* Up to an EPA-estimated 22 city/28 highway MPG for 2017 Mazda CX-9 FWD models. AWD models, 20 city/26 highway MPG. Actual results will vary.