2021 Mazda CX-9 review: High style with tradeoffs

Mazda’s CX-9 is even now a looker.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Feel it or not, the next-technology Mazda CX-9 is presently 6 many years aged. But it even now appears to be cleanse and fresh new, and its driving dynamics also continue to produce. Even so, 6 many years is a very long time in the automotive planet, which is why Mazda gave the CX-9 some styling and tech updates for 2021 to aid keep it applicable.


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

You should not Like

  • Coarse motor
  • So-so infotainment
  • Fewer cargo space than competitors

Nip and tuck

In the scenario of my array-topping CX-9 Signature exam auto, 2021 delivers a trio of exterior variations. The grille is now completed in Titanium Grey Metallic, there are greater exhaust outlets all-around back again and the entire package deal rides on new twenty-inch Excellent Silver wheels. None of the variations are earth-shattering — specifically the bland 10-spoke wheels — but the CX-9’s style and design remains handsome in general.

Slide into the Signature’s cabin and you happen to be greeted with an interesting, simple dash constructed from some really handsome supplies. The dash and doorway panel toppers are tender to the contact, the really hard plastics on reduced portions are perfectly completed and the Santos rosewood trim tends to make the entire inside glimpse high quality. In addition, the initial- and next-row Nappa leather seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, whilst the real aluminum accent trim now sporting activities a patterned complete.

Those people updates be a part of the other high quality fixings in the CX-9 Signature, this kind of as 3-phase heated and cooled front seats, heated next-row captain’s chairs and a tender, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There’s also a typical sized moonroof, which will disappoint enthusiasts of gargantuan panoramic glass tops, as Mazda doesn’t provide a person of those people.

Place in front is generous with comfortable and supportive front buckets, significant doorway panel compartments and a sizable center armrest. The center row captain’s chairs are on the flat facet with more than enough space for grownups, but the rearmost seats are incredibly comfortable. Head- and legroom for everyone previously mentioned five feet, six inches tall is in essence nonexistent, but at the very least there are cup holders and a couple of USB ports back again there for any youngsters you bring alongside.

In the cargo space classification, the CX-9 falls behind its level of competition. With all seats deployed, there’s 14.four cubic feet behind the third row, which grows to 71.two cubic feet when both of those rear rows are folded. In comparison, behind the rearmost seats, the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander provide 16 cubic feet of storage space, whilst the Kia Telluride features a hearty 21 cubic feet. With the two back again rows flipped down the Honda (82.one cubic feet), Kia (87 cubic feet) and Toyota (eighty four.3 cubic feet) all dwarf the Mazda.

The CX-9’s inside construct excellent and supplies are genuinely spectacular.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Significant screen tech

The most noteworthy update to Mazda’s largest crossover is the addition of a 10.3-inch center infotainment screen. The large display arrives typical on all CX-9 versions, presenting crisp resolution and passable graphics, but this even now isn’t a touchscreen, so you can expect to have to fidget with the center console controller to enter places into the Signature’s typical navigation program.

Even with out touchscreen abilities, Mazda Connect is a relatively intuitive interface, jogging a twelve-speaker Bose audio setup, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot. If you dread Mazda’s tech, and some on the Roadshow personnel do, you can opt to hand infotainment controls above to either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The CX-9 unquestionably doesn’t lack electricity factors, with a wireless cost pad positioned at the foundation of the center console, USB cost ports inside easy reach of all 3 rows of seats and twelve-volt outlets in the front and trunk area.

A 10.3-inch infotainment screen is now typical on just about every CX-9.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

On the driver-assistance tech front, just about every CX-9 arrives with adaptive cruise regulate, automatic unexpected emergency braking, lane-retaining assist and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-targeted traffic warn. My Signature tester’s safety tech menu is beefed up further more with front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, targeted traffic indication recognition and a 360-diploma digital camera program with respectable graphic excellent. 

The course athlete 

Each CX-9 is inspired by a two.five-liter turbocharged I4. When jogging ninety three-octane gasoline, the large-block 4 features up 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, with the latter on-line at two,five hundred rpm. Operating typical 87-octane fuel is also doable, but output drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Possibly way, the CX-9 feels downright lively in Sport mode when accelerating away from stops, and carries on to pull robust in the course of the center of the rev array, making easy perform of passing slower targeted traffic and seamlessly merging on to expressways.

Doing the job with the CX-9’s motor is a 6-speed automatic transmission, which is archaic by modern expectations offered the proliferation of eight-, nine- and 10-speed gearboxes. In procedure, nevertheless, there’s not considerably to complain about with the 6-speed, as it provides smooth, perfectly-timed cog exchanges and it can help return course competitive EPA-believed gasoline financial state figures of twenty mpg in the town and 26 mpg on the highway.

The turbo 4 features masses of reduced-stop torque, but appears raspy.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The Mazda’s drivetrain, nonetheless, is on the coarser facet of the audio spectrum and slight vibrations are detectable when you wind points up in direction of the engine’s six,three hundred-rpm redline. The CX-9 gives up some in towing in comparison to its V6 rivals way too, with a 3,five hundred-pound capability. The all-wheel-travel Pilot, Telluride and Highlander can all pull five,000 kilos.

Down the road, the CX-9’s journey is buttoned-up, with the suspension taking the edge off smaller to medium impacts, and the cabin stays impressively hushed from annoying road and wind noises. Toss this crossover into a corner and its entire body motions are constantly stored in examine, with just the slightest dive below braking and lean at flip-in before hunkering down and jogging via turns. The twenty-inch Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 In addition tires provide loads of grip. Insert in responsive and perfectly-weighted steering alongside with stout, easy-to-modulate brakes and you have a 3-row crossover that features the sportiest reflexes in its course.

Significant twenty-inch wheels and tires add to the CX-9’s confident dealing with.

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How I might spec it

The Signature variation of the CX-9 pictured here is a pricey fella, stickering for $48,575 as examined. Head you, it is packed to the gills with typical all-wheel travel, a extravagant Nappa leather inside and all the driver-assistance technological know-how you could want, but I might be ready to give up some goodies for a softer blow to the lender account. 

For my construct, I might get started with an all-wheel-travel Touring design that begins at $39,025, like $one,a hundred seventy five for destination. This trim arrives typical with eighteen-inch wheels, a leather inside and heated front seats, and must-have features like blind-spot monitoring and LED headlights appear equipped on all CX-9s. I might then plunk down for the $395 Snowflake White Pearl Mica paint occupation and $two,060 for the Touring Top quality Bundle, mainly for the Bose audio program, satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors and wireless cellphone charger. All in, my perfect Mazda rings in at a far more fair $forty one,480. 

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

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Sort and effectiveness above function

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 begins at $35,335 like destination with front-wheel travel, putting it appropriate in the similar ballpark as Honda, Kia and Toyota. Upgrading to all-wheel travel tacks on an further $one,900. Even though the CX-9 doesn’t provide as considerably function as its rivals, the Mazda packs a healthy dollop of design and style, a genuinely high quality inside and tighter dealing with chops than the many others. If those people emotional traits are more than enough to glimpse earlier the cramped third row and cargo space, I wouldn’t blame you. But if they are not more than enough to outweigh the deficiencies in practicality, I wouldn’t blame you for hunting elsewhere, either.