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2023 Mazda CX-9 Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2023 Mazda CX-9 Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Touring vs Touring Plus and Carbon Edition and Grand Touring vs Signature
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2023 Mazda CX-9 Trim Should You Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

When your family grows and you find yourself needing a larger vehicle, a third-row SUV might start to sound like a good idea. And, if you're looking into that segment, the 2023 Mazda CX-9 probably stands out. Not only is it moderately priced for a third-row SUV, it offers a sense of luxury that is hard to find in non-luxury vehicles. But, somehow, Mazda manages.

The CX-9 is cozy and serene to drive along on the highway with no real noise making its way into the cabin. In fact, it rivals what some luxury vehicles offer in terms of ride quality. What's more, the CX-9 has a spirited handling performance matched by a swift acceleration capability. It drives more like a mid-size SUV than a large third-row SUV. The standard all-wheel drive drivetrain is able to handle some minor off-roading duty despite being tuned more for inclement weather situations.

The interior of the Mazda CX-9 is nothing short of a marvel. Again, it borders on luxury, especially once you get up to the line-topping Signature trim level. Everything inside of the cabin seems like it was well thought-out when the CX-9 was in design, and the main control dial is remarkably straightforward. The infotainment tech is user-oriented, as are all the driver aids that come equipped.

The CX-9 isn't exactly a flawless vehicle. This third-row SUV suffers the same issues as many of its rivals. The third-row seats just are not all that accommodating. Unless you're a small child, you will likely feel cramped for space. What's more, it does not offer a whole lot of cargo space for stashing your bulky items. Max cargo capacity only sits at 71.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which falls short of what you will find in many of the CX-9's toughest competitors.

That being said, the 2023 Mazda CX-9 is a solidly built vehicle that looks and feels immaculate. It offers you a choice of five different trim levels to choose from: the base Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and the rather luxurious line-topping Signature. All five are well equipped for a vehicle in this segment and feel cozy and upscale, especially the higher up you go.

But which of these five CX-9 trim levels packs in the most value? Which one will best suit your unique needs?

In this trim level comparison, we will run down each of the five 2023 Mazda CX-9 trim levels and, in the end, declare which one we think has the most value. With this knowledge, you will be able to more easily pick the trim level you want when you go in for a test-drive.

Compare the Touring vs Touring Plus Trims. What is the difference?

The first trim level in the 2023 Mazda CX-9 line-up is called the Touring, which is then followed up by the Touring Plus. Both of these trim level options receive their power from a standard turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This four-cylinder is able to generate a maximum power output of 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque or, if you fill up the gas tank with 93 octane gas, 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission delivers that power to all four of the CX-9's wheels via an all-wheel drive drivetrain system.

On the base Touring trim level, there are 18-inch wheels that are made from alloy. On the front fascia are LED headlights, and you also get windshield wipers that can sense rain and work automatically to clear it away. Up top is a sunroof for letting extra light and air into the cabin when you most want it.

Getting into the CX-9 is easy thanks to its standard keyless entry and ignition. There is also a power liftgate in the rear that makes getting into the cargo area pretty effortless. Inside of the cabin, you will find a tri-zone automatic climate control system designed to keep each of the three zones at a set temperature. The seats are upholstered in leather, and both front seats have power adjustability. The second-row captain's chairs mean you only get seating for six though. On top of it all is an automatically dimming rearview mirror for a clear view out the back of the vehicle.

Technology feels like a real tour-de-force on the Touring trim level, and it is just the base trim. There is a standard 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen display that comes with smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A six-speaker sound system provides a good audio experience for a base sound system. A wireless charging pad can keep your Qi-compatible smartphone charged up, and there are USB ports in the first two rows of seats.

Add to all of this the standard suite of advanced driver aids that Mazda tacks on. This bundles together lane keeping assistance (which will gently steer the CX-9 back into its intended driving lane if it starts straying over the line), adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality (which will adjust speed to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of it), a blind-spot warning system with a rear cross-traffic alert (which lets you know if a vehicle is driving in your blind spot while you try to reverse or change lanes), and forward collision mitigation (which alerts you to a potential oncoming crash and will apply the brakes for you to try to avoid an accident).

The Touring Plus trim level takes all of those features and builds on them with a slew of standard features. On the front, there is a grille done in a dark finish. Also, this trim level rides atop 20-inch wheels painted black. There are roof rails on top of the roof.

Inside, you get treated to standard ventilated front seats. You get seating for seven with a second-row bench seat. The driver's seat gains memory settings as well.

Compare the Touring Plus vs Carbon Edition. What is the difference?

Upgrading to the Carbon Edition is going to get you everything that comes on the Touring Plus, but it makes a handful of significant additions. The Carbon Edition is done in a unique, trim exclusive Polymetal Gray paint that comes paired with red leather upholstered seats and aluminum interior trim details. On the front fascia, you get adaptive headlights that swivel as you round through turns, enhancing cornering visibility. A windshield wiper de-icer system comes in handy during inclement weather, the side mirrors are power folding, and the liftgate has hands-free functionality.

In the cockpit, you get a heated steering wheel that has paddle shifters mounted onto it. The steering wheel has a heating function. A digital instrumentation panel gives you important driving and vehicle information, and the second-row captain's chairs have a heating function. In the second row, you will find a set of sunshades.

A few more tech features get added to the Carbon Edition. The 12-speaker Bose premium audio system provides impressive sound quality, and there is SiriusXM satellite radio connectivity via a free trial period. What's more, the third row gains a couple of USB charging ports.

The Carbon Edition also has a few more advanced driver aids. Equipped on this trim are a driver attention warning (which issues an alert when it senses you have become drowsy or distracted while driving), parking sensors for the front and rear (which help alert you to any obstacles you might not see with the naked eye), and rear automatic braking (which applies the brakes if the system detects a collision with something behind the vehicle).

Compare the Carbon Edition vs Grand Touring. What is the difference?

Stepping it up to the Grand Touring trim level - which ditches the Carbon Edition's unique styling elements - adds even more luxury-oriented items to the list of features. There is a second-row bench seat with standard heating and an integrated navigation system.

Three more advanced driver aids make the list, too. You get a head-up display that projects important driving details onto the windshield in front of your eyes, allowing you to keep your gaze on the road in front of you. There is another feature that is able to recognize traffic signs and relay info to you about maximum speed limits wherever you are driving. Finally, there is a 360-degree surround view camera system that provides you with a top-down view surrounding your vehicle. It can come in handy when you are trying to navigate a tight parking situation.

Compare the Grand Touring vs Signature Trims. What is the difference?

At the top of the 2023 Mazda CX-9 line-up is the exceedingly luxurious Signature trim level. On this trim level, you get a specially designed grille and unique finish along with full LED lighting.

Inside of the cabin, there are second-row captain's chairs that have their own center console. There is also real wood interior trim, which makes this vehicle feel even more luxurious. Finally, you also get treated to some chic piping on the premium quilted leather upholstery.

Final Thoughts

Luxury might not be a word that you'd think of right away when you think about Mazda, but they have really made the CX-9 a stunning vehicle. The higher trim levels look like something you would see on a luxury line.

But which of the five trim levels should you choose? Is there one that embodies value better than the other four?

Yes, there is, and that, in our humble opinion, is the Touring Plus. The base Touring trim level is a fine enough choice, especially since it was just the mid-tier trim level last year. But this year's changes have shaken things up a lot. That is why the Touring Plus is our top pick.

With the Touring Plus, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and it honestly is not that big of a jump over the starting MSRP of the Touring trim. But the Touring Plus has more desirable features, such as the third-row bench seat and the ventilation on the front seats. Of course, if you have more wiggle room in your budget, the line-topping Signature trim is absolutely immaculate. You get the sense of luxury without the accompanying price tag.


Compare Trims on other 2023 Mazda Models:

2023 Mazda CX-5 Trims

2023 Mazda CX-50 Trims

2023 Mazda CX-9 Trims

2023 Mazda CX-30 Trims
Previous Year Trim Configurations:

2022 Mazda CX-9 Trim Levels