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2021 Mazda CX-9 review highlights: 

  • 2021 Mazda CX-9 ($34,160 – $46,805) 
  • 2021 Car and Driver Editor’s Choice award winner 
  • Pros: Sporty performance, luxury quality interior 
  • Cons: Cramped third row, limited cargo space 
2021 Mazda CX-9 parked in a driveway
2021 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 proves that a family vehicle can be both luxurious and fun to drive without having a sky-high price. This three-row SUV may have picked performance over utility, but that provides a few key advantages. 

If you don’t need the extra space, you can enjoy its attractive look and turbocharged performance. The 2021 model adds new infotainment technology and top-of-the-line Signature trim gained a new grille and quilted leather seats. 

Plus, the CX-9 provides plenty of standard and optional features to craft a convenient experience that delivers on safety, athletic handling, and driver customization. Rivals like the Kia Telluride may have more cargo space, but the CX-9 is more engaging. 

Which Mazda CX-9 trim is best? 

  • Mazda CX-9 Sport $34,160
  • Mazda CX-9 Touring $35,950 
  • Mazda CX-9 Carbon Edition $41,280 
  • Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring $42,140 
  • Mazda CX-9 Signature $46,805 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Touring trim is one of the best options because it includes the most value. It builds upon the base trim with convenience features such as keyless entry with push-button start and a power-operated rear liftgate. Also, the interior includes leather upholstery. 

To get captain’s chairs in the second row, you will need to opt for the Touring Premium package. It adds additional USB ports in the third row, second-row window shades, a Bose audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, fog lamps, and parking sensors in the front and rear. 

We tested the Mazda CX-9 Signature trim with i-ACTIV all-wheel drive. It includes Nappa leather-trimmed seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a wireless phone charger, 20-inch alloy wheels, a hands-free power liftgate, a 360-degree camera, and automatic high beams. 

How does the Mazda CX-9 drive? 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 parked in a driveway
2021 Mazda CX-9 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 comes with a Skyactiv-G turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. If you use premium fuel, these figures increase to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. 

According to acceleration testing, the CX-9 can zoom from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.1 seconds. It provides plenty of giddy-up for moving off the line and is a bit faster than rivals. The transmission shifts smoothly for a relaxing daily driver experience. 

But with the CX-9’s responsive handling and confident brakes, you can turn up the fun around winding curves. This vehicle doesn’t feel hefty at all with limited body roll. It’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces. 

The Mazda CX-9 gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and up to 28 mpg on the highway. This is an average fuel economy that could be better. Perhaps a hybrid option will enter the mix soon. 

How is the Mazda CX-9’s interior? 

2021 Mazda CX-9 interior
2021 Mazda CX-9 interior | Mazda

The Mazda CX-9 delivers a sense of luxury comfort with a well-planned, simple, and elegant layout. Soft-touch materials are accented with premium rosewood graining and brushed aluminum. 

Everything you need is easily within reach. The sunroof provides an excellent amount of natural light, and large windows provide plenty of visibility in the front. However, thick pillars and a small window in the rear may feel limiting. With the 360-degree camera and parking sensors, this longer SUV is still easy to maneuver. 

Large door openings allow you to enter the front and second rows without fuss. Plus, the captain’s chairs in the second row provide easy access to the third row. However, the back is a little tight and is only recommended for smaller kids. 

How comfortable is the 2021 Mazda CX-9? 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has large, plush seats in the front with plenty of adjustment controls to find the perfect position. The lumbar support helps you maintain an upright posture without fatigue. People taller than 5’8” might feel snug. 

Also, the seats in the second row are well-padded. Although, they lack some of the plush bolsterings that the front seats have. The third-row is comfortable as well, but the headrest can land in an awkward place if you’re too tall to fit back there. 

The tri-zone automatic climate control works very efficiently to keep everyone comfortable, and the ventilated seats are incredibly effective at keeping you cool. While the suspension is a bit firm, most impacts are absorbed with ease. Plus, the cabin mutes wind and road noise for a serene environment.  

Does the Mazda CX-9 have good tech? 

Each Mazda CX-9 model comes with a 10.3-inch display with crisp graphics. But the system isn’t a touchscreen. Everything is controlled with a rotary dial that could be a little more intuitive at first. Once you take a few minutes to learn how it works, you’ll be ready to roll.

The voice controls are fast and responsive, and phones are easy to pair. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, but wireless connectivity would enhance the user experience. Also, the Bose stereo system is powerful and immersive. 

You can keep your eyes on the road with the head-up display (HUD). The HUD and 7-inch digital gauge cluster are simple to customize. Display your favorite stats in a matter of seconds. 

How much space does the 2021 CX-9 have? 

Space is where the 2021 Mazda CX-9 seems to struggle compared to rivals. You can access up to 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and up to 71.2 cubes total. The second and third rows fold flat to provide a level cargo floor. 

However, the CX-9 provides clever solutions for growing families with large door pockets and plenty of cupholders. The center console could be a little wider, but it works. Also, captain’s chairs make it easy to install car seats in the second row. 

The CX-9 isn’t the best option for towing. When properly equipped, it can only tow up to 3,500 lbs, while rivals like the Kia Telluride can tow up to 5,000 lbs. 

How safe is the 2021 Mazda CX-9? 

The Mazda CX-9 is incredibly safe. It earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). During crash testing, it achieved the highest ratings in almost every category for its ability to protect drivers and passengers. 

Plus, it received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It scored well in head-on collision tests and simulated side crashes. Also, it has a low rollover risk. 

Standard safety features include:

  • Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection 
  • Lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert 

How reliable is the Mazda CX-9? 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 in a stream
2021 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Mazda CX-9 a reliability rating of five out of five. That’s above average and provides confidence in this SUV as a long-lasting family option. The rating is based on problems reported on previous models. 

Based on how well the CX-9 is maintained, it can last between 200,000 to 250,000 miles. If you drive an average of 15,000 miles annually, you can get 13 to 17 years of service before breaking down or needing a severe repair. 

MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Mazda CX-9 an expert rating of 8.2 

The experts at MotorBiscuit have awarded the 2021 Mazda CX-9 with an overall score of 8.2 out of 10. This sleek SUV provides a little extra space if needed with an attractive style and luxurious interior. 

As a family vehicle, the CX-9 could use more cargo room and a larger third row. But it makes up for the lack of space with an engaging driver experience and quiet interior. It can tackle inclement weather situations and maneuver through tight city areas with ease. 

The 2022 Mazda CX-9 gained a new mid-range Touring Plus trim. It comes with all of the equipment from the Touring model. The new trim adds ventilated front seats, more power adjustments for the driver’s seat, a frameless review mirror, a black grille, aluminum-colored roof rails, and black-painted 20-inch wheels. Plus, AWD is standard across all models.

We know that the Mazda CX-90 is on the way. It should serve as a more traditional, boxy SUV with a taller roofline and more passenger space. It could eventually replace the CX-9, and we hope the new shape doesn’t impact the driving experience.


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