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HomePersonal FinanceThe 2022 Mazda CX-9 vs. the Ford Explorer: Which is better?

The 2022 Mazda CX-9 vs. the Ford Explorer: Which is better?

The midsize SUV segment is full of competitive players from almost every mainstream automaker. The tried and true Ford

Explorer has been a solid choice in family SUVs for decades, but the Mazda CX-9 gives it a run for its money.

Let’s take a closer look at these 3-row SUVs and find the right one for you and your family.

2022 Mazda CX-9

The Mazda

CX-9 is an upscale and athletic choice in midsize 3-row SUVs. It upholds its brand’s reputation for well-crafted interiors and engaging driving dynamics at an affordable price point. Pricing starts at $35,630.

Mazda CX-9 Highlights

Premium interior: The Mazda CX-9 offers a premium interior without a premium price tag. The interior design is lovely, and the quality of the materials is better than you might expect at this price point. The Explorer is fancy in the upper trims, but the lower trims aren’t as nice inside as the CX-9.

Agile handling: Mazda SUVs have built a reputation for being fun to drive, and the CX-9 is no exception. This midsize SUV handles like a smaller car. The turbocharged engine is mated to a well-tuned chassis that makes the CX-9 enjoyable to drive for a family SUV.

Standard AWD: The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive system comes standard with every Mazda CX-9, giving every CX-9 confidence-inspiring traction in poor road conditions and improving handling on dry pavement. By comparison, the Explorer is available with all-wheel drive, but at an extra cost.

Also see: The 2022 Mazda CX-9 vs. the Volvo XC90: Which is better?

2022 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer


The Ford Explorer is a trusted name in midsize SUVs for good reasons. It has a practical interior, rugged capabilities, and lots of variety in its model range with something for everyone. Pricing starts at $35,510.

Ford Explorer highlights

Model range variety: From the sporty ST model to the rugged Timberline model to the luxurious Platinum and King Ranch trims, the Explorer model range has something for everyone in the market for a midsize SUV. If you’re looking for value, the more affordable trims are still well-equipped.

Big cargo hold: The Explorer has quite a bit more cargo space than the CX-9. The Ford has 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row of seats, while the Mazda has 14.4 cubic feet. Fold down the back seats and get a maximum cargo capacity of 87.8 cubic feet in the Explorer versus 71.2 cubic feet in the CX-9.

Hybrid option: The Ford Explorer is available with an efficient hybrid engine. Specifically, a V6 mated to an electric motor with a total output of 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. It boasts a combined fuel economy rating of up to 27 mpg and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The hybrid engine is exclusive to the luxurious Platinum trim.

Also see: The 2022 Nissan Kicks is a spacious, fuel-efficient subcompact SUV good for town driving


Standard turbo engine, similar sizing, similar pricing, same warranty, 3-row seating

Also on MarketWatch: This 27-year-old spends $1,000 a week at restaurants — and just $36 on groceries


The Mazda CX-9 is good for drivers who need a practical 3-row SUV with AWD but also want something that’s fun to drive with a nice interior. The Explorer has more variety in its model range with offerings like the sporty Explorer ST, the off-road-ready Explorer Timberline, and a hybrid option. It also has more cargo space than the Mazda. Which one is right for you depends on your wants and needs.

2022 Mazda CX-9

2022 Ford Explorer

Starting Price



Popular Powertrains


2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder

2.3-liter turbo 4-cylinder


227 hp @ 5,000 rpm

300 hp @ 5,500 rpm


310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm

310 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm


6-speed automatic

10-speed automatic

Fuel Economy

20 city/26 highway/23 combined mpg

21 city/28 highway/24 combined mpg

Max Towing

3,500 pounds

5,600 pounds

Also Available

AWD; 3.0-liter turbo V6; 3.3-liter hybrid V6


Basic Warranty

3 years/36,000 miles

3 years/36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty

5 years/60,000 miles

5 years/60,000 miles

NHTSA Overall Safety

5 stars

Not rated

Max Seating Capacity




115.3 inches

119.1 inches

Overall Length

199.4 inches

198.8 inches


77.5 inches

78.9 inches


67.6 inches

69.9 inches

Turning Diameter

38.8 feet

39.2 feet

Headroom, 1st Row

39.3 inches

40.7 inches

Headroom, 2nd Row

38.5 inches

40.5 inches

Headroom, 3rd Row

35.4 inches

38.9 inches

Legroom, 1st Row

41.0 inches

43.0 inches

Legroom, 2nd Row

39.4 inches

39.0 inches

Legroom, 3rd Row

29.7 inches

32.2 inches

Shoulder Room, 1st Row

57.9 inches

61.8 inches

Shoulder Room, 2nd Row

58.1 inches

61.9 inches

Shoulder Room, 3rd Row

53.1 inches

54.6 inches

Cargo Volume

14.4/38.2/71.2 cubic feet

18.2/47.9/87.8 cubic feet

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