Here’s How the Mazda CX-9 2023 Becomes a Better 3-Row SUV Than the 2022 Ford Explorer

Ford is one of the biggest players in the US, with a giant lineup SUV. The Ford Explorer is one of the most practical choices for families looking for a large vehicle with decent power, a spacious interior, and a great look. On the other hand, Japanese companies continue to climb the market with pragmatic offerings. While most Japanese businesses emphasize practicality, Mazda wants to differentiate itself by offering luxury SUVs at affordable prices. Mazda recently unveiled the 2023 CX-9, and Mazda has packed it with many standard features, even at ground level.


The 2022 Ford Explorer is available for a base price of $35,510 and eight trims. The Mazda CX-9, on the other hand, starts at a base price of $38,750 and five trims. While both are very capable SUVs, we prefer the Mazda CX-9, and below we tell you why.

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2023 Mazda CX-9 Vs 2022 Ford Explorer: Engine, Performance and Mileage

All Mazda CX-9 2023 trims are powered by the Skyactiv-G 2.5 liter Dynamic Pressure Turbo inline-four engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox that sends output to all four wheels. Mazda offers this engine in two different setups. This engine offers 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular 87 octane fuel, but if you want more power and rugged performance, it offers 250 hp and 320 lb-ft on 93 octane fuel. Mazda CX- The 9 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds and offers 22 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. It packs a 19.5 gallon fuel tank that puts highway fuel range at 507 miles.


The Ford Explorer keeps its powertrain diverse. The base, XLT, and Limited are powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four engine paired to a ten-speed automatic gearbox, capable of 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of punch. The ST and Platinum use a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, producing 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, propelling the Explorer to accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. More impressively, Ford offers the Explorer hybrid variant with a 3.6-liter hybrid unit that prioritizes fuel efficiency.

The Explorer’s inline-four turbo engine offers just 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. The twin-turbo V6 is hungrier, offering just 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. The Explorer offers a 17.9 or 20.2 gallon fuel tank to offer a highway fuel range of up to 501 miles. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.


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2023 Mazda CX-9 Vs 2022 Ford Explorer: Exterior Styling

The CX-9 is one of the most stunning 3-row SUVs on the market, with a truly premium look and sharp exterior design language that could give it tough competition with German SUVs. While the CX-9 is a large SUV, its exterior looks sleek due to modern design cues. The headlights resemble the human eye with a wide design, and the DRLs and headlights are combined into one circular unit. The five-slot horizontal pentagonal grille looks unique. The back also has a different character. The circular headlights and CX-9 chrome badge look premium. Apart from that, Mazda’s M logo and dual exhaust tips give it an upscale appeal.


The Ford Explorer, however, looks solid and has a big-boy-type exterior design compared to the sleeker CX-9. The fascia features a chrome-plated four-bar grill with a honeycomb grill underneath. The triangular headlights are wide, and fit inside a pair of DRL or LED headlights. Below, the Explorer is equipped with LED fog bars and a thick skid plate. The back of the Explorer focuses on function over appearance, and frankly, the entire exterior of the Explorer can’t stand before the stunning CX-9.

2023 Mazda CX-9 Vs 2022 Ford Explorer: Interior Design, Comfort and Dimensions

Mazda has done some serious work into the CX-9’s cabin, and we’re very impressed! The CX-9 welcomes you with a beautiful cabin built with A-class materials and a minimalist layout. The dashboard layout is sleek and has ergonomic controls. Most of the cabin is covered in soft-touch materials and decorated with wood and aluminum accents.

The driver’s side has a 7-inch TFT cluster and a heated steering wheel covered in leather. The interior offers a total passenger volume of 135.8 ft3 and ample space for seven people. The front side offers a pair of power-adjustable bucket seats with heating and cooling, and offers 39.3 inches of headroom and legroom. The second row comes standard with bench seats, but you can also fit a captain’s seat with heating and cooling. The second row offers 38.5 inches of headroom and 39.4 inches of legroom. The third row offers 35.4 inches and 29.7 inches of head and legroom, respectively.

The Ford Explorer offers a practical cab made with mostly plastic and durable materials. The Explorer cabin features a modern design that focuses on function. The dashboard layout is practical, and matches the odd-looking 12.3-inch portrait-style touchscreen. For d├ęcor, the higher trim offers a leather dashboard with contrast stitching and wood accents.

The Explorer cabin is larger, with 152.7 ft3 of passenger space, and can accommodate seven passengers. The front seats offer power adjustment, heating and cooling functions, memory settings and lumbar support. The second row offers a captain’s seat, but heating and cooling are not available as in the CX-9. The second and third rows can be folded to save space. The Explorer’s cockpit is equipped with a 6.5-inch LCD and heated leather steering wheel as well.

The Explorer seats are more spacious, with 40.7 inches of headroom and 43 inches of legroom. The second row offers 40.5 inches of headroom and 39 inches of legroom. The third row is very spacious, offering 38.9 inches and 32.2 inches of head and legroom.

2023 Mazda CX-9 Vs 2022 Ford Explorer: Safety

Both the Mazda CX-9 and Ford Explorer boast the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ title. However, NHTSA has given the CX-9 five stars, and there has been no recall. The 2022 Ford Explorer has not yet been rated, but it has two recalls from the FBI.

Mazda CX-9 is equipped with many safety features. Premium features such as blindspot monitor with rear traffic warning, lane departure warning with fixed assist, radar cruise control and many other features are standard. Front and rear parking assistance, smart city braking and driver attention alerts are available.


Ford has packed the Explorer with fewer safety features. Only the higher trim comes standard with premium safety features such as the Co-Pilot360 Assist package consisting of ACC, lane centering, speed sign assist, and more. Features like blindspot monitor, driver attention monitor, rear traffic alert, fixed lane assist and departure alert are not available even in the options.

After going through all the facts and figures, it’s easy to say that the Mazda CX-9 2023 is the better of the two. Despite being more expensive than the latter, Mazda packs the CX-9 with more standard features, an improved look, and a premium cabin. That said, the Ford Explorer is also a good choice.

Source: Ford, Mazda.

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