Toyota Highlander vs. Mazda CX-9

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Automotive Editor

Jerimy’s had a love/hate relationship with cars since he procured his first vehicle – a 1981 baby blue Ford Fairmont.  It had an oil leak.  He promptly blew the engine.  After a lengthy non-auto related career he established and ran a service repairing interior blemishes in cars and trucks for automobile dealers.  He learned firsthand from dealers about a wide variety of vehicles ranging from high-end luxury cars to ten-year old gas guzzlers – and everything in between.  Eventually he moved on to writing.  Now he works as a writer and editor during the day and moonlights as a freelance writer at night – he's hoping not to blow any more cars up.

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, Automotive Editor - November 14, 2013

After its 2001 introduction, the Toyota Highlander quickly established a reputation for reliability and utility -- its strong sales record is no surprise. The Mazda CX-9 is, by contrast, a relative newcomer to the market, first appearing on the scene in 2007.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Highlander & CX-9 >>

The CX-9 has generated plenty of buzz as an up-and-coming contender in the crowded crossover segment. But does it live up to the standards of incumbents like the Highlander?

What we Like About the Toyota Highlander

Few vehicles are as versatile as the Highlander. With seating for seven, a variety of interior configurations, two great engine options and available all-wheel drive, the Highlander is a solid choice in a competitive market.

Just as importantly, the Highlander is more agile than some more cumbersome competitors. It drives like a car, offering easy maneuverability in tight spaces and cramped parking lots. Plus, it offers best-in-class safety features and gobs of technological options.

What we Like About the Mazda CX-9

Built on the Ford Edge platform, the CX-9 also rides a lot like a car. It seats seven, like the Highlander, but has a more spacious interior. Available in three trim levels, the CX-9 features only a single engine choice -- but it's a good one. The 3.7-liter V6 engine, unibody construction, optional all-wheel drive and independent four-wheel suspension deliver the "zoom zoom" driving experience.

Access to third-row seating is rather innovative and easy to use. And the crossover's overall design -- inside and out -- is refreshing and smart.

Can the CX-9 Compete with the Highlander?

The short answer: Yes. The name "Mazda" doesn't always appear on a Toyota shopper's comparison list. But if you're giving serious consideration to a Highlander, the CX-9 deserves a test drive.

Our Verdict: Mazda CX-9

It's a close call, but we give an edge to the Mazda CX-9 for matching the Highlander's utility in a package that's more fun to drive.

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander >>

Take a closer look at the Mazda CX-9 >>

, Automotive Editor

Jerimy’s had a love/hate relationship with cars since he procured his first vehicle – a 1981 baby blue Ford Fairmont.  It had an oil leak.  He promptly blew the engine.  After a lengthy non-auto related career he established and ran a service repairing interior blemishes in cars and trucks for automobile dealers.  He learned firsthand from dealers about a wide variety of vehicles ranging from high-end luxury cars to ten-year old gas guzzlers – and everything in between.  Eventually he moved on to writing.  Now he works as a writer and editor during the day and moonlights as a freelance writer at night – he's hoping not to blow any more cars up.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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