2018 Mazda CX-9 Gets More Expensive, With Reason, but Will Consumers Pay Up?

Mazda is increasing the base price of its CX-9 flagship by $610 for the 2018 model year.

With more standard safety kit, Mazda’s $32,460 2017 CX-9 now becomes the $33,070 2018 Mazda CX-9.

But can Mazda, which sells the CX-9 at a slower rate than essentially all of its competitors, operate at an even higher price point? The second-generation Mazda CX-9 was already priced at a premium: $775 more than Pilot, $835 more than Highlander, $1,210 more than Pathfinder, $1,370 more than Durango, $1,585 more than the 2018 Traverse.

Mazda doesn’t seem terribly bothered. The majority of CX-9s sold in America are already top-spec Grand Touring and Signature models, higher-margin vehicles that are helping Mazda slowly craft an image as a premium mainstream brand, buoyed along by Driver’s Choice commercials and, as we can see now, CX-9s with $33,070 base MSRPs.

Since Mazda USA launched the overdue second-generation CX-9 in the summer of 2016, over 30,000 copies of the new three-row crossover have been sold in America.

Yet the rapid growth we saw from the new CX-9 early on in its tenure has already ground to a halt. 2016’s final six months represented the best second-half for CX-9 sales since 2012. Year-over-year,  CX-9 sales doubled during the first 12 months of second-gen CX-9 availability. But over the summer of 2017, we learned that the new model had seemingly peaked: sales since June have fallen 3 percent. Mazda is thus on pace to sell roughly 24,000 CX-9s in America in 2017, right on par with its historic annual average.One doesn’t expect a somewhat premium-positioned three-row from tiny Mazda to sell like a Ford Explorer, of course, which attracts around 22,000 monthly U.S. customers. But one would have expected the CX-9 to more quickly ramp up to Mazda’s own expectations. Mazda forecasted that 80 percent of the CX-9’s 50,000-unit global annual allotment would find its way into North America — that’s 40,000 annual sales in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Yet across the continent, Mazda is on track to sell only 30,000 CX-9s in 2017.

Regardless, Mazda has increased the price of the 2018 CX-9 on the grounds of including more safety features. An IIHS Top Safety Pick+, every CX-9 will now include automatic emergency braking — Mazda calls it Smart City Brake Support — and blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Mazda clearly figures that’s worth an extra $610, particularly as the CX-9, which Mazda claims is already among the quietest vehicles in its class, gets extra sound insulation and, Mazda says, easier access to the third row that was previously too snug.

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 Sport’s $33,070 base price rises by $1,800 if all-wheel drive is added. A Sport package costs $1,290. One trim level up, the CX-9 Touring now starts at $35,900. All-wheel drive is again an $1,800 option, and a Touring Premium Package is an $1,890 option. The 2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is priced from $41,410; $43,210 with AWD. Equipped in every case with AWD, the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature is a $45,255 vehicle, on par with top-end 2017 pricing.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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