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2021 Mazda CX-9 review: High style with tradeoffs

Mazda’s CX-nine is continue to a looker.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Consider it or not, the second-generation Mazda CX-nine is previously six a long time outdated. But it continue to appears to be cleanse and refreshing, and its driving dynamics also continue to supply. Even so, six a long time is a very long time in the automotive earth, which is why Mazda gave the CX-nine some styling and tech updates for 2021 to help hold it related.


  • Smooth styling
  • A critically good interior
  • Sharp and refined managing

Do not Like

  • Coarse engine
  • So-so infotainment
  • Considerably less cargo area than competitors

Nip and tuck

In the case of my range-topping CX-nine Signature exam car, 2021 provides a trio of exterior alterations. The grille is now finished in Titanium Gray Metallic, there are greater exhaust retailers all-around back and the full bundle rides on new twenty-inch Fantastic Silver wheels. None of the alterations are earth-shattering — specifically the bland 10-spoke wheels — but the CX-9’s style continues to be handsome all round.

Slide into the Signature’s cabin and you’re greeted with an eye-catching, clear-cut dash built from some seriously handsome materials. The dash and door panel toppers are gentle to the touch, the hard plastics on decreased portions are effectively finished and the Santos rosewood trim helps make the full interior appear quality. In addition, the initially- and second-row Nappa leather seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, whilst the genuine aluminum accent trim now sports activities a patterned end.

Those people updates sign up for the other quality fixings in the CX-nine Signature, these types of as 3-stage heated and cooled entrance seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a gentle, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. You can find also a normal sized moonroof, which will disappoint admirers of gargantuan panoramic glass tops, as Mazda would not supply a single of these.

Room in entrance is generous with cozy and supportive entrance buckets, large door panel compartments and a sizable middle armrest. The center row captain’s chairs are on the flat side with adequate area for adults, but the rearmost seats are very comfortable. Head- and legroom for everyone over 5 ft, six inches tall is essentially nonexistent, but at minimum there are cup holders and a pair of USB ports back there for any young ones you convey along.

In the cargo area category, the CX-nine falls guiding its opposition. With all seats deployed, there is certainly 14.four cubic ft guiding the 3rd row, which grows to seventy one.2 cubic ft when equally rear rows are folded. In comparison, guiding the rearmost seats, the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander supply sixteen cubic ft of storage area, whilst the Kia Telluride characteristics a hearty 21 cubic ft. With the two back rows flipped down the Honda (eighty two.1 cubic ft), Kia (87 cubic ft) and Toyota (eighty four.three cubic ft) all dwarf the Mazda.

The CX-9’s interior develop high-quality and materials are truly remarkable.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Major monitor tech

The most noteworthy update to Mazda’s most significant crossover is the addition of a 10.three-inch middle infotainment monitor. The huge display screen arrives normal on all CX-nine types, featuring crisp resolution and passable graphics, but this continue to is not a touchscreen, so you can have to fidget with the middle console controller to enter locations into the Signature’s normal navigation program.

Even without having touchscreen capabilities, Mazda Hook up is a rather intuitive interface, working a twelve-speaker Bose audio set up, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot. If you dread Mazda’s tech, and some on the Roadshow team do, you can decide to hand infotainment controls in excess of to both Apple CarPlay or Android Vehicle.

The CX-nine certainly would not absence energy factors, with a wi-fi demand pad positioned at the foundation of the middle console, USB demand ports inside straightforward access of all 3 rows of seats and twelve-volt retailers in the entrance and trunk region.

A 10.three-inch infotainment monitor is now normal on every single CX-nine.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

On the driver-help tech entrance, every single CX-nine arrives with adaptive cruise regulate, computerized crisis braking, lane-preserving guide and blind-location checking with rear cross-traffic warn. My Signature tester’s security tech menu is beefed up more with entrance and rear parking sensors, a head-up display screen, traffic signal recognition and a 360-diploma digicam program with respectable graphic high-quality. 

The course athlete 

Just about every CX-nine is determined by a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4. When working 93-octane gasoline, the huge-block four features up 250 horsepower and 320 pound-ft of torque, with the latter on line at 2,500 rpm. Operating frequent 87-octane gasoline is also achievable, but output drops to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Possibly way, the CX-nine feels downright lively in Sport method when accelerating away from stops, and carries on to pull potent throughout the center of the rev range, generating straightforward function of passing slower traffic and seamlessly merging onto expressways.

Doing the job with the CX-9’s engine is a six-velocity computerized transmission, which is archaic by modern standards provided the proliferation of eight-, 9- and 10-velocity gearboxes. In procedure, though, there is certainly not a lot to complain about with the six-velocity, as it delivers smooth, effectively-timed cog exchanges and it allows return course competitive EPA-approximated gasoline overall economy figures of twenty mpg in the metropolis and 26 mpg on the highway.

The turbo four features loads of lower-conclude torque, but seems raspy.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The Mazda’s drivetrain, even so, is on the coarser side of the audio spectrum and slight vibrations are detectable when you wind factors up to the engine’s six,300-rpm redline. The CX-nine presents up some in towing as opposed to its V6 rivals as well, with a three,500-pound capability. The all-wheel-travel Pilot, Telluride and Highlander can all pull 5,000 pounds.

Down the highway, the CX-9’s ride is buttoned-up, with the suspension having the edge off modest to medium impacts, and the cabin stays impressively hushed from bothersome highway and wind noises. Toss this crossover into a corner and its physique motions are constantly kept in examine, with just the slightest dive underneath braking and lean at transform-in right before hunkering down and working via turns. The twenty-inch Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 In addition tires supply a good deal of grip. Increase in responsive and effectively-weighted steering along with stout, straightforward-to-modulate brakes and you have a 3-row crossover that features the sportiest reflexes in its course.

Major twenty-inch wheels and tires contribute to the CX-9’s self-assured managing.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

How I might spec it

The Signature model of the CX-nine pictured below is a dear fella, stickering for $48,575 as tested. Intellect you, it is packed to the gills with normal all-wheel travel, a fancy Nappa leather interior and all the driver-help know-how you could want, but I might be eager to give up some goodies for a softer blow to the financial institution account. 

For my develop, I might begin with an all-wheel-travel Touring design that commences at $39,025, which include $1,a hundred seventy five for desired destination. This trim arrives normal with eighteen-inch wheels, a leather interior and heated entrance seats, and need to-have characteristics like blind-location checking and LED headlights occur geared up 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 Package deal, primarily for the Bose audio program, satellite radio, entrance and rear parking sensors and wi-fi phone charger. All in, my suitable Mazda rings in at a more realistic $41,480. 

This CX-nine Signature will established you back $48,575.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Type and functionality in excess of operate

The 2021 Mazda CX-nine commences at $35,335 which include desired destination with entrance-wheel travel, placing it proper in the identical ballpark as Honda, Kia and Toyota. Upgrading to all-wheel travel tacks on an added $1,900. While the CX-nine would not supply as a lot operate as its rivals, the Mazda packs a healthier dollop of fashion, a truly quality interior and tighter managing chops than the some others. If these psychological attributes are adequate to appear past the cramped 3rd row and cargo area, I wouldn’t blame you. But if they aren’t adequate to outweigh the deficiencies in practicality, I wouldn’t blame you for searching elsewhere, both.