2021 Mazda CX-9 review: High style with tradeoffs

Nancy J. Delong

Mazda’s CX-9 is even now a looker.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Imagine it or not, the second-era Mazda CX-9 is currently 6 yrs previous. But it even now appears to be thoroughly clean and contemporary, and its driving dynamics also go on to supply. Even so, 6 yrs is a long time in the automotive globe, which is why Mazda gave the CX-9 some styling and tech updates for 2021 to enable retain it suitable.


  • Sleek styling
  • A significantly awesome interior
  • Sharp and refined dealing with

Don’t Like

  • Coarse engine
  • So-so infotainment
  • Fewer cargo place than competition

Nip and tuck

In the situation of my assortment-topping CX-9 Signature test car or truck, 2021 brings a trio of exterior improvements. The grille is now concluded in Titanium Gray Metallic, there are much larger exhaust outlets all-around back and the full package deal rides on new 20-inch Brilliant Silver wheels. None of the improvements are earth-shattering — particularly the bland 10-spoke wheels — but the CX-9’s design and style remains handsome over-all.

Slide into the Signature’s cabin and you might be greeted with an appealing, clear-cut dash created from some really handsome resources. The dash and doorway panel toppers are gentle to the touch, the challenging plastics on reduced parts are effectively concluded and the Santos rosewood trim makes the full interior glimpse high quality. In addition, the to start with- and second-row Nappa leather seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, when the genuine aluminum accent trim now sports a patterned end.

Individuals updates sign up for the other high quality fixings in the CX-9 Signature, these types of as 3-stage heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a gentle, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There is certainly also a conventional sized moonroof, which will disappoint followers of gargantuan panoramic glass tops, as Mazda doesn’t present one particular of all those.

Place in front is generous with cozy and supportive front buckets, large doorway panel compartments and a sizable middle armrest. The middle row captain’s chairs are on the flat facet with plenty of place for grownups, but the rearmost seats are unbelievably comfortable. Head- and legroom for everyone previously mentioned 5 feet, six inches tall is essentially nonexistent, but at least there are cup holders and a couple of USB ports back there for any little ones you deliver together.

In the cargo place group, the CX-9 falls driving its levels of competition. With all seats deployed, you can find fourteen.four cubic feet driving the 3rd row, which grows to seventy one.2 cubic feet when each rear rows are folded. In comparison, driving the rearmost seats, the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander present sixteen cubic feet of storage place, when the Kia Telluride characteristics a hearty 21 cubic feet. With the two back rows flipped down the Honda (eighty two.one cubic feet), Kia (87 cubic feet) and Toyota (eighty four.3 cubic feet) all dwarf the Mazda.

The CX-9’s interior create high-quality and resources are truly amazing.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Massive display screen tech

The most noteworthy update to Mazda’s major crossover is the addition of a 10.3-inch middle infotainment display screen. The large display will come conventional on all CX-9 styles, supplying crisp resolution and satisfactory graphics, but this even now isn’t a touchscreen, so you will have to fidget with the middle console controller to enter destinations into the Signature’s conventional navigation technique.

Even without the need of touchscreen abilities, Mazda Link is a reasonably intuitive interface, working a twelve-speaker Bose audio setup, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot. If you dread Mazda’s tech, and some on the Roadshow employees do, you can decide to hand infotainment controls around to both Apple CarPlay or Android Vehicle.

The CX-9 absolutely doesn’t lack electrical power factors, with a wi-fi charge pad located at the foundation of the middle console, USB charge ports in simple reach of all 3 rows of seats and twelve-volt outlets in the front and trunk place.

A 10.3-inch infotainment display screen is now conventional on each individual CX-9.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

On the driver-support tech front, each individual CX-9 will come with adaptive cruise command, computerized emergency braking, lane-retaining assist and blind-spot checking with rear cross-targeted traffic alert. My Signature tester’s basic safety tech menu is beefed up even more with front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, targeted traffic sign recognition and a 360-diploma camera technique with respectable image high-quality. 

The class athlete 

Every CX-9 is inspired by a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4. When working 93-octane fuel, the large-block four gives up 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, with the latter on the web at 2,five hundred rpm. Working standard 87-octane gas is also achievable, but output drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Both way, the CX-9 feels downright energetic in Activity method when accelerating absent from stops, and continues to pull solid during the middle of the rev assortment, producing simple perform of passing slower targeted traffic and seamlessly merging on to expressways.

Functioning with the CX-9’s engine is a 6-speed computerized transmission, which is archaic by present-day standards supplied the proliferation of eight-, nine- and 10-speed gearboxes. In operation, however, you can find not substantially to complain about with the 6-speed, as it delivers easy, effectively-timed cog exchanges and it can help return class competitive EPA-believed fuel economy figures of 20 mpg in the metropolis and 26 mpg on the highway.

The turbo four gives masses of very low-conclusion torque, but seems raspy.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The Mazda’s drivetrain, nonetheless, is on the coarser facet of the seem spectrum and slight vibrations are detectable when you wind matters up in direction of the engine’s six,three hundred-rpm redline. The CX-9 presents up some in towing in contrast to its V6 rivals as well, with a 3,five hundred-pound potential. The all-wheel-push Pilot, Telluride and Highlander can all pull 5,000 lbs.

Down the highway, the CX-9’s ride is buttoned-up, with the suspension taking the edge off little to medium impacts, and the cabin stays impressively hushed from aggravating highway and wind noises. Toss this crossover into a corner and its entire body motions are often kept in examine, with just the slightest dive under braking and lean at flip-in in advance of hunkering down and working via turns. The 20-inch Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Additionally tires present loads of grip. Insert in responsive and effectively-weighted steering together with stout, simple-to-modulate brakes and you have a 3-row crossover that gives the sportiest reflexes in its class.

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

Jon Wong/Roadshow

How I might spec it

The Signature model of the CX-9 pictured in this article is a pricey fella, stickering for $forty eight,575 as examined. Mind you, it is packed to the gills with conventional all-wheel push, a fancy Nappa leather interior and all the driver-support technological innovation you could want, but I might be inclined to give up some goodies for a softer blow to the lender account. 

For my create, I might get started with an all-wheel-push Touring model that starts at $39,025, such as $one,175 for location. This trim will come conventional with 18-inch wheels, a leather interior and heated front seats, and have to-have characteristics like blind-spot checking and LED headlights appear equipped on all CX-9s. I might then plunk down for the $395 Snowflake White Pearl Mica paint task and $2,060 for the Touring Top quality Deal, primarily for the Bose seem technique, satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors and wi-fi cell phone charger. All in, my ideal Mazda rings in at a extra reasonable $41,480. 

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

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Variety and general performance around perform

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 starts at $35,335 such as location with front-wheel push, putting it correct in the same ballpark as Honda, Kia and Toyota. Upgrading to all-wheel push tacks on an supplemental $one,900. Whilst the CX-9 doesn’t present as substantially perform as its rivals, the Mazda packs a nutritious dollop of fashion, a truly high quality interior and tighter dealing with chops than the other people. If all those psychological attributes are plenty of to glimpse past the cramped 3rd row and cargo place, I wouldn’t blame you. But if they are not plenty of to outweigh the deficiencies in practicality, I wouldn’t blame you for hunting somewhere else, both.

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