Mazda CX-9 vs. Nissan Pathfinder

When first introduced into the market, the Nissan Pathfinder was an SUV derived from Nissan’s truck line. Over the intervening years the Pathfinder has arrived in its current form, being either a mid-size SUV or a Crossover, depending upon one’s personal definition.  

Earlier models of the Pathfinder enjoyed respectable off-road capabilities and proved popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts. In its current form, the Pathfinder has effectively become a seven-passenger minivan, with styling that hints at its prior off-road capabilities.

Styling

The Nissan Pathfinder long-ago abandoned the idea of being sporty, settling instead on being a large people mover. The current version of the car is well-proportioned and attractive.

KODO “Soul of Motion” is Mazda’s commitment to creating cars that are more than just metal. Taking inspiration from the natural world, contemporary Mazda designs are intended to create cars that communicate on an emotional level. And it works. The CX-9 is a rarity in being an SUV/Crossover that references the “Sporty” part of the SUV acronym. The CX-9 cleverly combines litheness with elegance, the whole being one of the most attractive vehicles in the segment.

Engine

The Pathfinder is fitted with Nissan’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine. This engine is found across the Nissan range, being available in the Maxima and, in modified form, the 370Z sports car. Producing 260 horsepower and 240 lb. ft. of torque, the engine’s performance is compromised by the use of a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT). While a CVT provides above-average fuel economy and seamless shifting, there can be delays as the engine builds revs to deliver more power, along with engine moaning.

The Mazda CX-9 features a unique turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Displacing 2.5 litres, the engine produces 227 horsepower, and an incredible 310 lb. ft. of torque at just 2000 rpm. The engine features Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo System, which combines two turbocharging technologies. Variable vane and twin-scroll offer distinct advantages depending on application. Using them together in one component reduces turbo-lag and maximizes power output. The CX-9 is expected to return fuel economy of city/highway (L/100 km) 10.5/8.3 for FWD models, and 11.2/8.8 for AWD examples, which places it among the best in the segment. Gear changes are accomplished by way of a six-speed automatic gearbox.

While the Pathfinder enjoys a horsepower advantage, the CX-9 provides an additional 70lb. ft. of torque over the Nissan, which is advantageous in every day driving situations.

Interior

Having settled into its role as a family-friendly hauler, the Nissan Pathfinder is now a big cavernous Crossover. As is typical in this segment, the Pathfinder provides three rows of seats to accommodate seven passengers. Oddly, for a vehicle whose sole reason for being is to move people, the second-row seats have been criticised for being uncomfortable. On a positive note, those who have been delegated to the third-row will enjoy easy access, although the seats themselves are best occupied by children. The family friendly nature of the Pathfinder is enhanced with multiple storage bins, bottle holders, and cup holders. The décor of the cabin is enhanced through each of the four trim levels offered.  

Mazda’s reputation for creating stylish and comfortable interiors is once again realized in the CX-9. Trimmed in quality materials, the Mazda CX-9 is a pleasant place to spend time, and will prove untiring on long journeys.

The second-row seating in the CX-9 provides comfortable accommodation for adults. Pushing the split-bench back creates abundant leg room, however, this is at the expense of those sitting in the third row. Access to the third-row is, however, easier in the Honda Pilot, and the space provided in this section is, as in the case in many entries in this segment, best enjoyed by children.

The CX-9 is available in four levels of trim: GS, GS-L, GT, and Signature. GS models are well-equipped and include a number of convenience features. Each successive model adds to this, culminating in the Signature edition which adds Nappa leather upholstery, a Rosewood-trimmed centre console panel, and Signature grill illumination. There’s a model on offer to satisfy just about everyone.

Driving

On the road the Nissan Pathfinder trades sporty for comfort. The Pathfinder is easy to drive, handling more like a softly sprung car. The ride is smooth and composed and shouldn’t prove tiring when completing longer journeys.  

The CX-9, on the other hand, is smooth and engaging. Mazda has invested time and effort in developing the chassis of the CX-9. While the largest vehicle in the Mazda range, the company has applied its “Driving Matters” philosophy in the final design. Combing light steering with effectively controlled body roll, Mazda has set the bar for what can be accomplished when driving enjoyment is the first priority.

Conclusion

The decision to be made between the Mazda CX-9 and the Nissan Pathfinder will be determined by the potential owner’s preferences.

Those who need a stylish minivan will do well to consider the Nissan Pathfinder. Those who need a vehicle that accommodates the demands of an active lifestyle while providing an involving and enjoyable driving experience need look no further than the Mazda CX-9.