2021 Mazda CX-9 outhustles the massive boys
So what good is the CX-9, then? It’s effectively above common, with a TCC Ranking of 6.5 out of 10. (Learn extra about how we fee automobiles.) It is fairly. It steers effectively. It is lavishly upholstered and fitted. Nevertheless it’s additionally smaller and extra stiff-jointed than virtually each crossover SUV of its sort, although simply as dear.
After driving an AWD Signature version for a thousand-mile jaunt up the Japanese seaboard, we’re much less satisfied that Mazda’s “premium” pitch works in its greatest automobile. Here is the place the premium value paid off—and the place it prices this crossover.
Hit: So, so fairly. A couple of years into its present mannequin cycle, we’re nonetheless smitten with the CX-9’s appears to be like. It’s fairly from almost each angle, with a slim entrance finish, a fairly sized and formed grille (ahem) and smooth curves that belie its precise dimension. The cabin’s neatly cut up by a metallic band of trim that provides it a roomy look—and in Signature variations it’s trimmed out with beautiful luxury-grade wooden and leather-based.
Hit: Non-SUV dealing with. Common in acceleration, the CX-9 tunes its trip and dealing with for the SUV model of Mensa. The steering’s a revelation for anybody who’s pushed one of many three-row South Korean SUVs. It snips apexes like Fiskars. In its center variations, it is fairly absorbent too, because of fairly sized 18-inch wheels.
Miss: Stiff trip. The 20-inch wheels commonplace on Signature fashions contribute to an sometimes harsh trip. The springs and dampers stamp it with enthusiasm on purer pavement, however curse it on the rougher patches. We like just a little joie de vivre as a lot as anybody, however right here it is just a little too spunky for the mission at hand.
Hit: Wonderful entrance seats. Even with the bottom material seats, the CX-9’s shapely entrance seats flip nine-hour jaunts on I-95 into piecework. They’re higher when robed within the Signature’s nappa leather-based upholstery, and after they’re heated and cooled.
Miss: Third-row seat house. Why even supply the third row? The CX-9 has a extra tidy footprint than lots of its opponents, and it reveals. With the third row in place, its 14 cubic toes of cargo house holds a roll-on or two, barely. The third row itself cannot maintain a medium-sized passenger in consolation. It is higher off as a five-seater—or as a four-seater, with plump captain’s chairs and a middle console within the second row.
Miss: Cursed infotainment. The CX-9 has a click-wheel interface, and never solely does it bar contact enter on its digital, it limits what could be completed when driving by way of the rotary controller. Attempt to spin the CX-9 from Apple CarPlay’s podcast operate to a ceaselessly used map vacation spot, and you may embark on a journey of a dozen little spins and clicks that pulls eyes off the street for too lengthy. Mazda’s coronary heart is in the fitting place, however the execution flails.
We are able to admire the CX-9’s driving brio and its high-minded cabin. Adaptive dampers, a quieter and stronger powertrain, and about three inches extra third-row seat house might treatment its flaws. However the value would balloon much more, we worry: whereas the bottom $35,060 CX-9 Sport is a price, and so is the better-equipped Touring trim, the AWD Signature version prices $47,980, perilously near BMW’s X3 and X4.
2021 Mazda CX-9 AWD Signature
Base value: $47,980, together with $1,175 vacation spot
Worth as examined: $48,475, together with $495 of Machine Grey Metallic paint
Drivetrain: 227-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4, 6-speed computerized transmission, AWD
EPA gasoline financial system: 20/26/23 mpg
The hits: The seats, the form, the steering
The misses: Stiff trip, stiff value