2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs Mazda CX-9

SAFETY 

The Atlas has standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The CX-9 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Atlas 4Motion’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The CX-9 doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

Compared to metal, the Atlas’ plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-9 has a metal gas tank.

Both the Atlas and the CX-9 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

WARRANTY 

The Atlas comes with a full 6-year/72,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The CX-9’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the CX-9’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 12 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Atlas’ warranty.

RELIABILITY 

The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the CX-9’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

ENGINE 

The Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 26 more horsepower (276 vs. 250) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

FUEL ECONOMY AND RANGE 

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Atlas’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-9 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

TRANSMISSION 

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volkswagen Atlas, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the CX-9.

BRAKES AND STOPPING 

For better stopping power the Atlas’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-9:

Atlas

CX-9

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

12.6 inches

The Atlas’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CX-9 are solid, not vented.

The Atlas stops shorter than the CX-9:

Atlas

CX-9

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

TIRES AND WHEELS 

For better traction, the Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-9 (265/45R21 vs. 255/60R18).

The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas SEL Premium offers optional 21-inch wheels. The CX-9’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

SUSPENSION AND HANDLING 

The Atlas’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The CX-9 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Atlas’ wheelbase is 2 inches longer than on the CX-9 (117.3 inches vs. 115.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-9.

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the CX-9 Signature AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the CX-9’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

PASSENGER SPACE 

The Atlas has 18.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-9 (153.7 vs. 135.1).

The Atlas has 2 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front legroom, 1.5 inches more front hip room, 3.6 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, .6 inches more rear hip room, 2.7 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.9 inches more third row headroom, 4 inches more third row legroom, 5 inches more third row hip room and 1.8 inches more third row shoulder room than the CX-9.

CARGO CAPACITY 

The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the CX-9.

Atlas

CX-9

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

14.4 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

38.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

71.2 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Atlas easier. The Atlas’ cargo hatch lift-over height is 29.7 inches, while the CX-9’s liftover is 31.6 inches.

The Atlas’ cargo area is larger than the CX-9’s in every dimension:

Atlas

CX-9

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

23.8”/53”/85”

21.4”/49.7”/84.5”

Max Width

61.6”

57.2”

Min Width

45”

40”

Height

37.5”

30.3”

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Atlas. The CX-9 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

TOWING 

Maximum trailer towing in the Mazda CX-9 is limited to 3500 pounds. The Atlas offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

SERVICING EASE 

The Atlas uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CX-9 uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The Atlas has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The CX-9 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

ERGONOMICS 

The power windows standard on both the Atlas and the CX-9 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Atlas is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-9 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

If the windows are left open on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the CX-9 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Atlas’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The CX-9’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The CX-9 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Atlas has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-9 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The Atlas’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda charges extra for heated mirrors on the CX-9.

When the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The CX-9’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The Atlas SEL Premium’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The CX-9 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES 

Insurance will cost less for the Atlas owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Atlas with a number “5” insurance rate while the CX-9 is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Atlas is less expensive to operate than the CX-9 because typical repairs cost much less on the Atlas than the CX-9, including $309 less for a water pump and $106 less for a fuel pump.

RECOMMENDATIONS 

The Volkswagen Atlas outsold the Mazda CX-9 by over two to one during the 2018 model year.