2021 Mazda CX-9 review: High-style with tradeoffs

Mazda’s CX-9 continues to be a looker.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Believe it or not, the second-generation Mazda CX-9 is already six years outdated. But it nonetheless seems clear and recent, and its driving dynamics additionally proceed to ship. Even so, six years is a very long time within the automotive world, which is why Mazda gave the CX-9 some styling and tech updates for 2021 to assist hold it related.


  • Sleek styling
  • A severely good inside
  • Sharp and refined dealing with

Don’t Like

  • Coarse engine
  • So-so infotainment
  • Less cargo house than opponents

Nip and tuck

In the case of my range-topping CX-9 Signature check automobile, 2021 brings a trio of exterior adjustments. The grille is now completed in Titanium Gray Metallic, there are bigger exhaust retailers round again and the entire package deal rides on new 20-inch Brilliant Silver wheels. None of the adjustments are earth-shattering — particularly the tasteless 10-spoke wheels — however the CX-9’s design stays good-looking total.

Slide into the Signature’s cabin and also you’re greeted with a beautiful, easy sprint constructed from some actually good-looking supplies. The sprint and door panel toppers are comfortable to the contact, the laborious plastics on decrease parts are effectively completed and the Santos rosewood trim makes the entire inside look premium. In addition, the first- and second-row Nappa leather-based seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, whereas the actual aluminum accent trim now sports activities a patterned end.

Those updates be part of the opposite premium fixings within the CX-9 Signature, resembling three-stage heated and cooled entrance seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a comfortable, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There’s additionally a normal sized moonroof, which is able to disappoint followers of gargantuan panoramic glass tops, as Mazda does not supply a type of.

Space in entrance is beneficiant with comfortable and supportive entrance buckets, massive door panel compartments and a large middle armrest. The center row captain’s chairs are on the flat aspect with sufficient house for adults, however the rearmost seats are extremely cosy. Head- and legroom for anybody above 5 toes, 6 inches tall is principally nonexistent, however at the very least there are cup holders and a few USB ports again there for any youngsters you carry alongside.

In the cargo house class, the CX-9 falls behind its competitors. With all seats deployed, there’s 14.4 cubic toes behind the third row, which grows to 71.2 cubic toes when each rear rows are folded. In comparability, behind the rearmost seats, the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander supply 16 cubic toes of space for storing, whereas the Kia Telluride includes a hearty 21 cubic toes. With the 2 again rows flipped down the Honda (82.1 cubic toes), Kia (87 cubic toes) and Toyota (84.3 cubic toes) all dwarf the Mazda.

The CX-9’s inside construct high quality and supplies are really spectacular.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Big display screen tech

The most noteworthy replace to Mazda’s largest crossover is the addition of a ten.3-inch middle infotainment display screen. The massive show comes customary on all CX-9 models, providing crisp decision and satisfactory graphics, however this nonetheless is not a touchscreen, so you may should fidget with the middle console controller to enter locations into the Signature’s customary navigation system.

Even with out touchscreen capabilities, Mazda Connect is a reasonably intuitive interface, working a 12-speaker Bose audio setup, satellite tv for pc radio, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot. If you dread Mazda’s tech, and a few on the Roadshow workers do, you possibly can decide handy infotainment controls over to both Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The CX-9 positively does not lack energy factors, with a wi-fi cost pad situated on the base of the middle console, USB cost ports inside simple attain of all three rows of seats and 12-volt retailers within the entrance and trunk space.

A ten.3-inch infotainment display screen is now customary on each CX-9.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

On the driver-assistance tech entrance, each CX-9 comes with adaptive cruise management, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping help and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. My Signature tester’s security tech menu is beefed up additional with entrance and rear parking sensors, a head-up show, site visitors signal recognition and a 360-degree digicam system with respectable picture high quality. 

The class athlete 

Every CX-9 is motivated by a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4. When working 93-octane gas, the big-block 4 provides up 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, with the latter on-line at 2,500 rpm. Running common 87-octane fuel can be attainable, however output drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Either means, the CX-9 feels downright full of life in Sport mode when accelerating away from stops, and continues to drag robust all through the center of the rev vary, making simple work of passing slower site visitors and seamlessly merging onto expressways.

Working with the CX-9’s engine is a six-speed automated transmission, which is archaic by right this moment’s requirements given the proliferation of eight-, nine- and 10-speed gearboxes. In operation, although, there’s not a lot to complain about with the six-speed, because it delivers clean, well-timed cog exchanges and it helps return class aggressive EPA-estimated gas financial system figures of 20 mpg within the metropolis and 26 mpg on the freeway.

The turbo 4 provides a great deal of low-end torque, however sounds raspy.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The Mazda’s drivetrain, nevertheless, is on the coarser aspect of the sound spectrum and slight vibrations are detectable if you wind issues up in direction of the engine’s 6,300-rpm redline. The CX-9 provides up some in towing in comparison with its V6 rivals too, with a 3,500-pound capability. The all-wheel-drive Pilot, Telluride and Highlander can all pull 5,000 kilos.

Down the highway, the CX-9’s journey is buttoned-up, with the suspension taking the sting off small to medium impacts, and the cabin stays impressively hushed from annoying highway and wind noises. Toss this crossover right into a nook and its physique motions are all the time saved in test, with simply the slightest dive beneath braking and lean at turn-in earlier than hunkering down and working by way of turns. The 20-inch Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus tires supply loads of grip. Add in responsive and well-weighted steering alongside with stout, easy-to-modulate brakes and you’ve got a three-row crossover that provides the sportiest reflexes in its class.

Big 20-inch wheels and tires contribute to the CX-9’s assured dealing with.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

How I’d spec it

The Signature model of the CX-9 pictured here’s a expensive fella, stickering for $48,575 as examined. Mind you, it’s packed to the gills with customary all-wheel drive, a flowery Nappa leather-based inside and all of the driver-assistance expertise you possibly can need, however I’d be prepared to surrender some goodies for a softer blow to the checking account. 

For my construct, I’d start with an all-wheel-drive Touring mannequin that begins at $39,025, together with $1,175 for vacation spot. This trim comes customary with 18-inch wheels, a leather-based inside and heated entrance seats, and must-have options like blind-spot monitoring and LED headlights come outfitted on all CX-9s. I’d then plunk down for the $395 Snowflake White Pearl Mica paint job and $2,060 for the Touring Premium Package, principally for the Bose sound system, satellite tv for pc radio, entrance and rear parking sensors and wi-fi cellphone charger. All in, my supreme Mazda rings in at a extra cheap $41,480. 

This CX-9 Signature will set you again $48,575.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Form and efficiency over operate

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 begins at $35,335 together with vacation spot with front-wheel drive, placing it proper in the identical ballpark as Honda, Kia and Toyota. Upgrading to all-wheel drive tacks on an extra $1,900. While the CX-9 does not supply as a lot operate as its rivals, the Mazda packs a wholesome dollop of fashion, a very premium inside and tighter dealing with chops than the others. If these emotional traits are sufficient to look previous the cramped third row and cargo house, I would not blame you. But if they don’t seem to be sufficient to outweigh the deficiencies in practicality, I would not blame you for trying elsewhere, both.

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