2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2019 Mazda CX-9

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus RX Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Mazda CX-9 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The RX Series has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The RX Series offers optional Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The CX-9 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the RX Series and the CX-9 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Lexus RX Series is safer than the Mazda CX-9:

RX Series

CX-9

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

176

337

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

Neck Compression

90 lbs.

165 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

403/259 lbs.

376/375 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Lexus RX Series is safer than the Mazda CX-9:

RX Series

CX-9

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

53

88

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

165

208

Spine Acceleration

44 G’s

54 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

15 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

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The RX Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The CX-9’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the RX Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mazda covers the CX-9. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the CX-9 ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The RX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the CX-9’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The CX-9 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 53 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Mazda is ranked third.

Engine

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The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 45 more horsepower (295 vs. 250) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 58 more horsepower (308 vs. 250) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the RX 350 3.5 DOHC V6 is faster than the Mazda CX-9:

RX Series

CX-9

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

2.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.5 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

11.2 sec

13.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.8 sec

21.2 sec

Passing 45 to 65 MPH

3.6 sec

4.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.7 MPH

87.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the RX 450h gets better fuel mileage than the CX-9 AWD (31 city/28 hwy vs. 20 city/26 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the RX Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the RX Series Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-9 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus RX Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the CX-9.

The RX 450h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the RX Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-9:

RX Series

CX-9

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

12.8 inches

The RX Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CX-9 are solid, not vented.

The RX Series stops shorter than the CX-9:

RX Series

CX-9

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

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The RX Series offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The CX-9’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The RX 350 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CX-9 Touring (27.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

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The RX Series is 6.9 inches shorter than the CX-9, making the RX Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The RX Series has .1 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom and .6 inches more rear headroom than the CX-9.

Cargo Capacity

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The RX Series has a much larger cargo volume than the CX-9 with its rear seat up (18.4 vs. 14.4 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the RX Series’ optional rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The CX-9 doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the RX Series. The CX-9 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the RX Series’ available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The RX Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CX-9 uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Mazda. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 70% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 25th.

Ergonomics

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The RX Series’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-9 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the RX Series and the CX-9 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the RX Series is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-9 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

If the windows are left open on the RX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the CX-9 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RX Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The CX-9’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RX Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CX-9 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The RX Series has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-9 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The RX Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda charges extra for heated mirrors on the CX-9.

When the RX Series is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-9’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The RX Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The CX-9 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RX Series offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the RX Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the RX Series with a number “5” insurance rate while the CX-9 is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RX Series is less expensive to operate than the CX-9 because typical repairs cost less on the RX Series than the CX-9, including $108 less for a fuel pump and $180 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus RX Series and the Mazda CX-9, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lexus RX Series outsold the Mazda CX-9 by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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