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Mazda CX-9 Towing

Anyone know if the towing package installed by a dealer is the same package as factory install(heavy duty transmission cooler and radiator fan, etc.)?


  • A dealer in my town said they could install the exact same towing features on a Sport Package for me, but I didn't feel comfortable with it so bought a Touring that had one from the factory.
  • Thanks for the reply. I did some digging and from what I have been told packages are done at the factory and options are done at the port of entry. This being the case having dealer add any options should be equivalent to buying new with options, but best to buy package items from factory.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I would say anything is possible, but did you ask "how much?"

    I would guess the total cost would be above $1000, at least.
    Imagine that they will order
    - larger capacity radiator and fan
    - heavy duty tranny cooler
    and do ECU reprogramming for towing purpose.
    The parts alone would probably cost more than $500, not to mention the labor cost.

    The standard vehicle can tow 2000lb with a class II (and above) hitch.
    Besides, the vehicle with Tow package is slower due to the ECU programming.

    I read somewhere that, if you really worry, do the following with a non-tow package
    vehicle to tow 3500lb...
    - install a tranny cooler (not expensive and not labor intensive either)
    - install a class III hitch
    Overheating is a killer to tranny. As for programming, radiator and fan, they are secondary. So, it is a compromise in between.
  • tbo01tbo01 Posts: 10

    Just completed a 1200 mile tow of a Starcraft Travelstar Sport 18RB hybrid travel trailer with a 2007 CX-9 GT AWD. Based in Houston, located desired trailer in Cincinnati, Ohio at very favorable price (due to nearby factory location). I had spent quite a bit of time researching travel trailers, versus mazda towing capacities etc. As stated in earlier discussion on this forum, the Mazda CX 9 is rated for 3500lbs in US, while 2 mtons or 4400lbs in Australia. Since my 2002 audi A4 is rated for 3900lbs in UK and Germany I always felt US Mazda tow rating was related to factory Class 2 hitch and liability, warranty reasons more than general capacity of vehicle. To get straight to the point, CX9 had no problems towing 2850 light trailer through the hills of Tennesse, Kentucky. We could have easily run 70mph on the interstate. Tracking was true, no issue with breaking or sway motion from Semis. I had a 600lb reese load distribution system along with sway control installed at the dealer. Made 1200 mile trip in 23hrs. What is worth noting is fuel consumption at 63-65mph or more , can drop down to single digit 7-9mpg. Slowing doen to 58mph i got 12mpg. I think 55mph would be perfect for long trips as 200-230miles per tank is achievable. The initial 130-140miles per tank was quite depressing. So issue here is the fairly large sail area of this trailer. Unfortunately US small travel trailers are years behind European trailer in regard to areo dynamics and overall packaging for light to mid size tow vehicles. An 18ft Airstream would be nice but 3-4 times the price!! Taking your time and you will refuel every 3-4 hrs, which works out pretty well . CX9 diesel and 25 gallon tank anyone !!

    With trailer light weight of 2850lb, i have 650lb for stuff before trailer max's out at 3500lb (single axel). With skinny wife and two small kids to offset my 225lbs, I figure a total 600lbs in vehicle. Should be dead on or slightly higher than GCVR of 8558. not concerned about 10-20 % reserve as i think US version already has that built in. Would love to see what AUS GCVR rating is!
    As a final comment, i personnaly swapped out factory class 2 hitch for 4000lb / 400lb Hidden Hitch from e-trailer and had Hayes break controller installed. I also had hitch modified to fit flush into factory location. Rear end of Mazda did not sag 1/4 in with trailer hooked. Expect a small dip once full loaded. Anyone else out there with similiar set up. I'll try to post pictures.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Thanks for sharing. Very informative to read.
    I assumed that you meant GCWR, not GCVR.
    I personally have not done any towing. I installed a Hidden Hitch myself for bike rack. (Yeah, it sounds outrageous, but Mazda did not offer the class II as accessory until 2009).
    CX9 has enough horse power and torgue to tow up to 5000lb (think Pilot, which has less power/torque but tow rating is higher than CX9). The problem lies in the cooling. Both radiator and transmission cooler need to be larger. The Tow Package gives you larger ones, but obviously not large enough (probably due to limited space or else). Anyway, among the two, transmission cooling is the key. Overheated transmission fluid shortens transmission lifespan greatly. You can opt for installing an aftermarket transmission cooler if you tow heavy load a lot.

    BTW, there is a TSB on loss of power while climbing hill (see TSB thread).
    You might want to have it taken care of since you tow more frequently.
    It is just a re-programming of transmission temperature control (i.e. allow a higher transmission temperature before it shuts your transmission down into a limp-mode).
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,999
    I'd be a bit concerned if I had an accident and the insurance adjuster discovered that my towing set up wasn't rated for the vehicle. You know how insurance companies love to deny claims.... :cry:

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • tbo01tbo01 Posts: 10
    Agree on that comment. I'll be carefully monitoring overall weight loaded and target the 8558 GCVC. This means packing light, not carrying water in tanks etc and checking the TV and trailer combined weight on first trip at a truck stop???
  • tbo01tbo01 Posts: 10
    Cant comment on whether factory tow package transmission cooling system is adequate or not. Was a frequently discussed topic with my father inlaw on the drive back, as he had some interesting transmission failure stories from his buddies towing Jeeps CJ7s up to the Rubicon trail (6000ft) (Lake Tahoe), though most all were related to poor maintanence (3/4, 1 ton trucks???).

    A couple of precautionary actions, include transmission fluid inspection / replacement on more regular basis, monitoring the speed during windy days, paying attention when dealing with 100F days here in Houston during the summer (Too hot to camp anyway) . Our initial plans consist of weekend getaways 200miles or less and its relatively flat here in this part of Texas. Will provide any feedback should it develop into a problem.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    paying attention when dealing with 100F days

    And surface temperatures on the road and parking lots can be in excess of 150° F on those days. Transmissions are exposed to that too.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    CX9 has the life-time transmission fluid.
    Read the maintenance schedule if you don't believe me.
    There is no schedule to replace transmission fluid.
    However, being a disbeliever of "life-time fluid" (bad experience from BMW), I asked my local dealer about it. They said, they will replace the fluid (no flush, just drain and refill) for $138. The synthetic fuild (therefore, so called life-time) is more expensive than usual.

    Just FYI.
  • tbo01tbo01 Posts: 10
    Heat is no different than Australia, where 4400lb is the rating. Like I stated earlier, I had no issues with power, was forced to last minute evasive manovers in Memphis during rush hour traffic . No issue with Madza swaying, lack of power or lack of braking power, overheating, actualy father inlaw was quite impressed. A 3500lb lb load behind a 5500-6000lbs TV is quite different than Bubba in his 7000lb truck and 14000lb+ trailer.
    I have big breaks, low profile tires to prevent tire swaying motion, relatively long wheel base and solid hitch set up. Three things I yearn for, are 3.7 liter engine for some extra torgue, better mileage??, larger gas tank, 20 gallons is a joke, and a diesel option would be perfect to allow 300miles plus between refills. Hopefully manufactures get with the rest of the world and offer strong diesel options, My biggest pain in the [non-permissible content removed] was having to stop for gas!!!!!!!
  • tbo01tbo01 Posts: 10
    Unfortunately my second attempt at posting this thread. Some difficulties in posting a photo, Someone help me out please!

    Anyway for those of you desiring to use the CX9 for some backcountry excursions with a travel trailer, we have successfully towed a Starcraft Travel Star Sport 18RB Travel Trailer around for 4 months in Texas. Quite a few looks from the rednecks in there big trucks, but overall, I would not be surprised that our setup handles miles better than theirs. Driving a Audi A4 Sport Quattro 5 Sport as a daily driver , I am very impressed by how my wifes CX9 GT AWD handles the trailer including acceleration, and more importantly breaking and lane changing. Zero issues with sway from Semis or wind. Proper load distribution, sway control units from Reese and smart loading of trailer and vehicle. Quite a pleasant setup.

    Currently looking at mods to allow to bikes on trailer rear bumper and canoe on roof of CX9, knowing well what this does for aero dynamics. Just means 55-57 versus 60-65mph. Fun factor will overcome.

    Who has replaced or added a second set of wheel/ tires 17/18" for winter / light offroad use, Looking at Big Bend National park and Colorado excursions and want some 18X8.5 / 9" wheels for slightly FATTER tires
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,999
    Photo posting instructions can be found in the Help link below.

    A good place to "host" your photos is on your CarSpace page in an album there. I've hauled a canoe to Big Bend btw - my mpg hit usually was only around 1mpg on my minivan. I think the pointy ends help a lot.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • jneevejneeve Posts: 4
    I've seen a few people talk about installing brake controllers..

    Has anyone done this themselves? Just wondering where they installed the controller and what wire to tap into the brake switch.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    If you are not thinking about DIY, you may visit U_Haul. They do stuff like this for you.
  • abpelch1abpelch1 Posts: 48
    I partially installed it myself. I have a Tekonsha Prodigy controller and mounted it at an angle on the lower part of the dashboard by the drivers right shin. It is easily accessable at this location if I need to make adjustments or give some brake boost, but is out of the way and fairly unnoticeable.
    I ordered a trailer wiring kit from (which has a lot of great information and installation videos) and installed the 7-pin harness onto my aftermarket hidden hitch, ran the wire from the hitch into the engine bay and installed the fuses in the bay. I would have completed the job myself, but like you, could not determine which wire to tap for the brakes. I found an RV mechanic on craigslist to finish the installation for under $100.
  • jneevejneeve Posts: 4
    Feel like poking your head under there to see what brake wire they tapped into? Lol.....

    We finally got our cx-9 today so I'll start looking at the wiring tommorow. I dont mind paying for the install, but our Jeep wasnt overly hard once you sort out the brake wire and feeding the cables from the battery through the firewall...... (and of course all the way to the back)

    Seems to be tough to get proper info, the dealer really didnt seem to have alot info on what cable I needed to complete the pre-wiring..
  • abpelch1abpelch1 Posts: 48
    I'll try to take a peek when I get home and see if I can tell which wire he tapped, and where he fed them through the firewall. It didn't take the guy long to do the work. I'll try to take some pictures if I can.
  • jneevejneeve Posts: 4
    I had a peek tonight, it's pretty easy to run the wires through the firewall - just pull out the battery and theres the large wiring grommet right there behind it... there's a little extra rubber 'nub' that sticks out and you can poke your wires through there..

    Didnt have time to figure out the brake switch yet.

    I did verify though that in my 09 at the rear below the storage compartment is the pre-wrire for the trailer wiring... (You need to take that entire compartment out to see the connector)
  • abpelch1abpelch1 Posts: 48
    Just thought I'd post to let anyone interested know that I just finished a 9-day, 2500+ mile trip towing my popup trailer from Las Vegas, through northern California and Oregon and on to central Washington and back. From Vegas to Portland I drove with my 6 year old son and aunt, then picked up my wife and 9 month old son for the drive from Portland to Washington. That's 5 people, 2 bikes on the roof and towing a Starcraft Centennial 3606 which probably weighs close to 3500lbs fully loaded.
    My 2008 CX-9 Touring 2wd (with factory tow package) averaged 13.7 MPG through the entire trip while keeping the speed between 65-70mph. My best recorded MPG was 16.4 while traveling through the NV desert from Reno to Hawthorne, while the worst was 11.4 from Albany WA to Grants Pass. I had 2 bikes on the roof rack of the Mazda which probably didn't help with the mileage either.
    The weather was great, no snow, rain or wind to speak of. I towed in temperatures ranging from over 100 degrees in the deserts of NV to the mid-50's in Washington, and elevations ranging from sea level to over 7600' at Crater Lake.
    The steepest mountain grades required a drop into 3rd gear to maintain highway speeds, but 4th and 5th gear was usually more than enough to get through the milder grades. One thing I noticed is that the cruise control was quick to drop to 5th gear and hold it in situations where I could cancel the cruise and maintain speed in 6th gear. Because of this I found myself not using the cruise control as much as I would have liked in an effort to increase mileage by driving in 6th gear.
    The CX-9 drove great and was comfortable throughout the trip. My best testament to the comfort of the Mazda is that I was able to drive 15 hours on the final day without being fatigued. Other than the minor cruise control annoyance (and my 6 year old constantly asking when we'd be there), I had zero problems or complaints about the performance of this crossover. I'm sure it didn't tow as well as a big diesel truck would have, but at least I can successfully park my car at the grocery store on the first try for the 320+ days of the year when I don't need the towing capacity. :)

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