2023 Mazda CX-9 vs Subaru Ascent

March 9th, 2023 by

The compact SUV class of vehicles is incredibly popular not only for its family-friendly size and available cargo space but also its versatility, whether you drive a daily commute or frequently hit the road for wild adventures. Today, we’ll take a look at two leading options within the compact SUV market: the Subaru Ascent and the Mazda CX-9. 

While there are many similarities between the two, there are also stark differences that are important to consider when deciding which of the two might better fit your lifestyle or preferences. Let’s dive deeper into some detailed comparisons between the Ascent and the CX-9, from their exterior and interior designs to their power and performance capabilities, to help you to make the best choice for you.

Mazda CX-9 vs. Subaru Ascent: Comparing Exterior Design and Trim Levels

With their own individual characteristics, the Mazda CX-9 and the Subaru Ascent both offer memorable, stand-out elements in the world of the three-row, compact SUVs. While the Ascent takes on the brand’s classic sporty look, the CX-9 provides a sleek, luxurious feel with its clean lines and minimal styling, and the available jewel-tone colors to choose from give the vehicle a distinctly modern appearance. Each vehicle is offered in various seating configurations, with the Ascent offering seven- or eight-passenger seating and the CX-9 offering six- or seven-passenger seating. 

Most features are offered standard in both vehicles, such as a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, and keyless entry. The CX-9, however, comes out ahead with a higher number of standard features, including a sunroof, remote start, Wi-Fi hotspot, heated front seats, heated mirrors, quad bucket seats, integrated turn signal mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and fog lamps. These features are all missing from the Ascent.

Comparing the Power and Performance of the CX-9 and the Ascent

Both the Mazda CX-9 and the Subaru Ascent feature all-wheel drive and a standard four-cylinder, turbocharged engine. While the Ascent gets slightly better horsepower, delivering 260 horsepower versus the CX-9’s 227 horsepower, the CX-9 wins when it comes to torque, delivering 310 lb-ft of torque versus the Ascent’s 277 lb-ft of torque. In another difference, the Subaru Ascent has a CVT transmission, whereas the CX-9’s transmission is automatic. The 2022 CX-9 also offers a much higher towing capacity of 3500 pounds compared to the 2022 Ascent’s 2000 pound maximum.

In terms of fuel economy, each SUV is roughly the same, with the CX-9 getting 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the Ascent gets 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Where the Ascent offers competent off-road driving, the CX-9 has an overall more pleasant driving experience with tighter control and performance. Kelley Blue Book even describes its handling as having “the nimbleness and finesse of something smaller, and maybe even something that isn’t even an SUV.”

Interior Styling, Comfort, and Space

As mentioned previously, each of the two vehicles has variable seating configurations, with the Subaru Ascent seating up to eight passengers and the Mazda CX-9 up to seven, depending on your choice of trim. Each compact SUV features three rows of seating and plenty of space for everyone and everything you might need. The Ascent does have slightly more headroom, legroom, and cargo space; however, what the CX-9 may lack in space, it makes up for in luxury amenities, such as standard heated seats, driver and passenger lumbar and power seats, and quad bucket seats, making for a comfortable ride even over long distances.

Award-Winning Safety and Innovative Technology Features

Both vehicles received top marks in government safety tests and also won the Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The safety features offered standard on both the Mazda CX-9 and the Subaru Ascent include brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, and daytime running lights, although blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert are only offered on the CX-9.

In addition to its driver assistance tech, the Ascent and the CX-9 also offer various infotainment features as standard, such as HD radio, smart device integration, and Apple AirPlay and Android Auto connectivity. However, in addition to these features, the CX-9 also includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, MP3 player connectivity, a hands-free communications system, and wireless cell hookup in its standard model, as well as the option to add a navigation system that’s built into the vehicle.

Comparing Price: Who Comes Out on Top?

In comparing the costs of the 2023 Mazda CX-9 and Subaru Ascent, the CX-9 emerges as slightly more expensive, with a starting MSRP of $38,750 compared to the Ascent’s $33,895 price point. Arguably, though, the higher cost of the CX-9 is worth it for the surprising number of impressive features offered standard that aren’t even optional with the Ascent. Each vehicle also comes with a basic three-year/36,000-mile factory warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Overall, though the Subaru Ascent and the Mazda CX-9 are both leading choices in the compact SUV market, the CX-9 proves to be a better choice if you’re looking for an impressively smooth driving experience, a luxurious appearance, and more high-tech features than you can count.

Shop the Mazda CX-9 at Capistrano Mazda

In addition to the Mazda CX-9, we at Capistrano Mazda also offer an expansive inventory of brand-new and used vehicles to choose from. Serving Orange County, California, and the surrounding areas, we look forward to helping you find your perfect set of wheels and assisting you through your purchase and beyond with the knowledgeable teams in our finance, service, and parts centers. 

Visit us anytime during our open hours of Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the Mazda CX-9 or any of our other vehicle or service offerings, or to schedule a test drive, don’t hesitate to contact us via our website or by giving us a call at 866-279-5662. We can’t wait to help you get behind the wheel of your dream vehicle.


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