2019 Mazda CX-9 vs. 2019 Ford Flex

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The CX-9 has standard Smart Brake Support, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Flex offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Mazda CX-9 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Flex doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The CX-9’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Flex doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature has a standard 360° View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Flex only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the CX-9 and the Flex have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras and available all-wheel drive.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Mazda CX-9 is safer than the Flex:

 

CX-9

Flex

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

11 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.3/.2 kN

2.8/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Tibia index R/L

.37/.44

.53/.69

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CX-9 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 86 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Flex was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda 3 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 254) than the Flex’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Mazda CX-9 is faster than the Ford Flex V6:

 

CX-9

Flex

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.9 sec

8.5 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

5.7 sec

5.8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CX-9 AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Flex AWD with its standard engine (20 city/26 hwy vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

The CX-9 AWD’s standard fuel tank has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Flex (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

The CX-9 stops much shorter than the Flex:

 

CX-9

Flex

 

70 to 0 MPH

178 feet

192 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

139 feet

144 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

143 feet

157 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CX-9 has larger tires than the Flex (255/60R18 vs. 235/60R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-9 Sport/Touring has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Flex SE.

Suspension and Handling

The CX-9 Signature AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Flex SEL AWD pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the CX-9’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the Flex’s (38.8 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

Chassis

The Mazda CX-9 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 450 pounds less than the Ford Flex.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the CX-9 Signature AWD is quieter than the Flex Limited AWD:

 

CX-9

Flex

At idle

37 dB

37 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The CX-9 has 1.2 inches more front hip room, 2.4 inches more rear hip room and 2.3 inches more third row shoulder room than the Flex.

Cargo Capacity

The CX-9’s cargo area is larger than the Flex’s in almost every dimension:

 

CX-9

Flex

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

21.4”/49.7”/84.5”

16.5”/47”/83.3”

Max Width

57.2”

46”

Towing

The CX-9’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Flex’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

The CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Flex doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The CX-9’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Flex’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The CX-9 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Flex doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The CX-9’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Flex’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the CX-9 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Flex doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Flex doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The CX-9 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Flex SEL/Limited.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CX-9 is less expensive to operate than the Flex because it costs $9 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the CX-9 than the Flex, including $353 less for a muffler.

Recommendations

The CX-9 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 11 years. The Flex has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

The Mazda CX-9 outsold the Ford Flex by 15% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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