2021 Mazda CX-9 review: High style with tradeoffs

Mazda’s CX-9 is however a looker.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Believe it or not, the second-generation Mazda CX-9 is already six a long time previous. But it however appears to be like clear and refreshing, and its driving dynamics also continue to produce. Even so, six a long time is a long time in the automotive earth, which is why Mazda gave the CX-9 some styling and tech updates for 2021 to aid hold it related.


  • Smooth styling
  • A critically nice interior
  • Sharp and refined dealing with

Really don’t Like

  • Coarse motor
  • So-so infotainment
  • A lot less cargo area than competitors

Nip and tuck

In the scenario of my vary-topping CX-9 Signature check auto, 2021 delivers a trio of exterior variations. The grille is now completed in Titanium Gray Metallic, there are more substantial exhaust retailers about again and the whole bundle rides on new 20-inch Brilliant Silver wheels. None of the variations are earth-shattering — primarily the bland 10-spoke wheels — but the CX-9’s layout continues to be handsome over-all.

Slide into the Signature’s cabin and you are greeted with an beautiful, simple sprint created from some actually handsome resources. The sprint and doorway panel toppers are comfortable to the contact, the tricky plastics on decrease parts are well completed and the Santos rosewood trim makes the whole interior search top quality. In addition, the to start with- and second-row Nappa leather-based seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, even though the real aluminum accent trim now sports activities a patterned complete.

Those updates be a part of the other top quality fixings in the CX-9 Signature, this kind of as 3-phase heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a comfortable, leather-based-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There’s also a standard sized moonroof, which will disappoint supporters of gargantuan panoramic glass tops, as Mazda does not offer you one of individuals.

House in front is generous with comfy and supportive front buckets, large doorway panel compartments and a sizable centre armrest. The center row captain’s chairs are on the flat facet with more than enough area for grownups, but the rearmost seats are amazingly cosy. Head- and legroom for any person over 5 feet, six inches tall is essentially nonexistent, but at the very least there are cup holders and a few of USB ports again there for any children you carry alongside.

In the cargo area group, the CX-9 falls powering its competitors. With all seats deployed, there is certainly 14.four cubic feet powering the third row, which grows to 71.two cubic feet when both rear rows are folded. In comparison, powering the rearmost seats, the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander offer you sixteen cubic feet of storage area, even though the Kia Telluride features a hearty 21 cubic feet. With the two again rows flipped down the Honda (82.one cubic feet), Kia (87 cubic feet) and Toyota (eighty four.three cubic feet) all dwarf the Mazda.

The CX-9’s interior construct high-quality and resources are definitely amazing.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Massive display tech

The most noteworthy update to Mazda’s major crossover is the addition of a 10.three-inch centre infotainment display. The massive display arrives standard on all CX-9 styles, giving crisp resolution and satisfactory graphics, but this however isn’t really a touchscreen, so you will have to fidget with the centre console controller to enter locations into the Signature’s standard navigation method.

Even without the need of touchscreen abilities, Mazda Connect is a relatively intuitive interface, operating a 12-speaker Bose audio set up, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot. If you dread Mazda’s tech, and some on the Roadshow workers do, you can opt to hand infotainment controls over to possibly Apple CarPlay or Android Automobile.

The CX-9 absolutely does not deficiency power details, with a wi-fi charge pad positioned at the base of the centre console, USB charge ports within just easy reach of all 3 rows of seats and 12-volt retailers in the front and trunk place.

A 10.three-inch infotainment display is now standard on every single CX-9.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

On the driver-assistance tech front, every single CX-9 arrives with adaptive cruise control, automatic crisis braking, lane-preserving support and blind-location checking with rear cross-site visitors notify. My Signature tester’s safety tech menu is beefed up further with front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, site visitors indication recognition and a 360-diploma camera method with respectable picture high-quality. 

The course athlete 

Every single CX-9 is inspired by a two.5-liter turbocharged I4. When operating 93-octane gas, the massive-block 4 delivers up 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, with the latter on line at two,500 rpm. Jogging typical 87-octane gas is also doable, but output drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Possibly way, the CX-9 feels downright lively in Sport manner when accelerating away from stops, and proceeds to pull strong through the center of the rev vary, creating easy get the job done of passing slower site visitors and seamlessly merging onto expressways.

Functioning with the CX-9’s motor is a six-pace automatic transmission, which is archaic by present-day requirements provided the proliferation of eight-, nine- and 10-pace gearboxes. In operation, while, there is certainly not a great deal to complain about with the six-pace, as it delivers smooth, well-timed cog exchanges and it aids return course competitive EPA-estimated gas overall economy figures of 20 mpg in the town and 26 mpg on the highway.

The turbo 4 delivers masses of small-close torque, but sounds raspy.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The Mazda’s drivetrain, on the other hand, is on the coarser facet of the seem spectrum and slight vibrations are detectable when you wind things up in the direction of the engine’s six,three hundred-rpm redline. The CX-9 offers up some in towing as opposed to its V6 rivals as well, with a three,500-pound potential. The all-wheel-drive Pilot, Telluride and Highlander can all pull 5,000 kilos.

Down the street, the CX-9’s experience is buttoned-up, with the suspension using the edge off smaller to medium impacts, and the cabin stays impressively hushed from irritating street and wind noises. Toss this crossover into a corner and its body motions are often retained in check, with just the slightest dive under braking and lean at turn-in ahead of hunkering down and operating by means of turns. The 20-inch Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 As well as tires offer you loads of grip. Incorporate in responsive and well-weighted steering alongside with stout, easy-to-modulate brakes and you have a 3-row crossover that delivers the sportiest reflexes in its course.

Massive 20-inch wheels and tires lead to the CX-9’s self-confident dealing with.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

How I would spec it

The Signature variation of the CX-9 pictured here is a dear fella, stickering for $forty eight,575 as analyzed. Head you, it is packed to the gills with standard all-wheel drive, a extravagant Nappa leather-based interior and all the driver-assistance technologies you could want, but I would be ready to give up some goodies for a softer blow to the bank account. 

For my construct, I would get started with an all-wheel-drive Touring model that begins at $39,025, together with $one,one hundred seventy five for spot. This trim arrives standard with 18-inch wheels, a leather-based interior and heated front seats, and ought to-have features like blind-location checking and LED headlights arrive equipped on all CX-9s. I would then plunk down for the $395 Snowflake White Pearl Mica paint occupation and $two,060 for the Touring Premium Bundle, mainly for the Bose seem method, satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors and wi-fi cellphone charger. All in, my excellent Mazda rings in at a extra fair $forty one,480. 

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

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Kind and efficiency over purpose

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 begins at $35,335 together with spot with front-wheel drive, putting it right in the same ballpark as Honda, Kia and Toyota. Upgrading to all-wheel drive tacks on an further $one,900. Whilst the CX-9 does not offer you as a great deal purpose as its rivals, the Mazda packs a nutritious dollop of design and style, a definitely top quality interior and tighter dealing with chops than the other people. If individuals emotional traits are more than enough to search past the cramped third row and cargo area, I would not blame you. But if they are not more than enough to outweigh the deficiencies in practicality, I would not blame you for seeking somewhere else, possibly.

Rosa G. Rose

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