The SUV market is oversaturated, and when you look even closer at the midsize SUV market, you see most of the choices are there. This can get overwhelming for drivers looking for a quality SUV that meets their needs. Two offerings we noticed that stand out are the 2023 Mazda CX-9 vs 2023 Acura MDX. Both are great-looking SUVs that are, for the most part, very comparable. They have similar entry-level pricing and modern good looks that make them ideal for families or for those looking for an efficient SUV to get them to work and back home again.
The Mazda CX-9 is the more affordable of the two, with the entry-level model starting at $38,750. Drivers can expect to spend $49,550 for the Acura. That’s more than a $10,000 difference. Is the MDX worth the extra investment?
To answer your questions and more, we’ve checked out these two SUVs to see where they stand in the highly competitive SUV marketplace. Read on to learn more about the 2023 Mazda CX-9 and 2023 Acura MDX, how they differ, how they’re similar, and which one we like best for the money.
Drivers familiar with Mazda and its Zoom-Zoom campaign won’t be surprised to hear that the 2023 CX-9 offers sporty, yet smooth handling, perfect for hugging curves and invigorating rides. The SUV comes with a SkyActiv-G 2.5L Turbo four-cylinder engine that puts out 250 horsepower with 320 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle has lively acceleration and a modern sophisticated feel that drivers will appreciate.
The CX-9 comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and i-Activ All-Wheel Drive and a G-Vectoring Control Plus system that work with each other to adjust your SUV’s performance according to the current road conditions. In case you’re not familiar with i-Activ AWD, this system was designed to deliver optimal performance and control no matter what’s happening on the road ahead of you. With Off-Road Traction Assist, drivers get the control they need to confidently navigate rocky, sandy, or uneven ground.
The Acura MDX comes standard with a 3.5L V6 that offers 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, which goes to the wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. While the extra bit of power is great, the MDX comes standard with front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive like the CX-9. If drivers want access to all-wheel drive they’ll have to pay extra for it, on top of the already higher price. We also see that the MDX has a slightly lower fuel economy coming in at 19 MPG in the city and/26 MPG on the highway, while the CX-9 offers drivers 20 MPG in the city and 26 highway, and that’s with all-wheel drive.
One thing the MDX has that the Mazda does not is an optional engine choice, a 3.0L Turbo V6 making 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than 100 horsepower more than the CX-9, and all-wheel drive is standard with this engine. Of course, the added performance comes at the expense of fuel economy, with this configuration only getting 17 MPG in the city and 21 on the highway.
The MDX has a tuned electric power steering booster for responsive and smooth steering around every corner. The MDX boasts six different drive modes that range from Snow, Comfort, Normal, and Sport to Sport+, and even a mode called Lift, which is available with Type S. This offers a higher ground clearance for increased performance through snow, mud, and uneven terrain.
Despite its lower power figures, we’re a little more taken with the CX-9, which seems to offer more standard features for the price point. If you want all-wheel drive, big horsepower, or advanced tech in the Acura, get ready to pay for it.
Tech, Comfort, And Convenience
We were more impressed with the performance of the CX-9 that you get for the money. Will this continue into the interior? At first glance, we have to say yes. The CX-9 was designed with an eye for detail. Drivers have the option for Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel. Santos Rosewood inlays help create a natural, high-end ambiance for the cabin.
The seating has your comfort in mind. Ample head and legroom ensure a relaxing ride, no matter where you’re seated, including the supportive second-row captain’s chairs. For added flexibility, the CX-9 offers up to six different seat configurations, plus a max cargo space of 71.2 cu ft with all the seats folded down.
The MDX has a more sporty feel to the interior. While the CX-9 is composed of light, sandy colors for an organic feel, the MDX has darker leather and wood choices for the interior. Looking at the cockpit, we have to admit we’re a little overwhelmed. The dash is loaded with tech, wide screens, and plenty of buttons. This is a marked change from the CX-9’s more streamlined and minimalist approach.
As far as tech, the CX-9 makes it quick and easy to sync your smartphone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Use the 10.25-inch full-color screen to scroll, tap, and swipe for a curated driving experience that gives you access to favorite apps, playlists, and navigation. We have to point out our favorite standard feature, wireless charging. Yes, wireless charging is standard equipment for the CX-9. Simply put your smartphone on the charging pad and let it power up while you drive.
Drivers also get access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Acura MDX, making it easy to personalize your everyday ride. Both the MDX and CX-9 offer their own apps to access your vehicle, use remote start, stay up to date on fuel levels, and even adjust the cabin’s temperature before getting in.
We feel that most SUVs have much to offer drivers, but it comes down to personal tastes. Whether you want the quiet sophistication of the CX-9 or the sporty modern style of the MDX is up to you. We prefer the roomy airy cabin and streamlined cockpit of the CX-9, but can appreciate the fun style that the MDX offers.
Final SUV Thoughts
We feel we’ve made our opinion known, that the CX-9 wins when it comes to looks and performance. You get more standard features, like wireless charging and advanced all-wheel drive. When you opt for the more expensive MDX, you might get more powertrain choices, but you have to pay. If you want a modern midsize SUV, the CX-9 offers more for less than the entry-level MDX.
But we know it all comes down to personal choices and tastes. Whether you go for the understated urban cool of the CX-9, or the fun sporty MDX, finding a vehicle that works for you is a personal choice that only you can make. How about a test drive? Take them both for a spin and see how they handle and make you feel.
There is no wrong choice when it comes to picking out your next SUV, but if you want our opinion, the CX-9 offers a lot without asking for a lot, which is something we admire in a vehicle. Which SUV does midsize better? We’re going with the 2023 Mazda CX-9.