The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Is Almost Perfect Except for This 1 Annoying Feature

We spent some time in the 2021 Mazda CX-9 and have been utterly surprised at just how nice and buttoned-up it is. On top of its sporty driving dynamics and composed nature, the CX-9 Signature has all of the luxurious amenities that you could ever want out of a three-row SUV, however, we found one annoying feature that’s almost a deal-breaker for us.

The infotainment system

We complained about the infotainment system in the Mazda6 and sadly, we have to complain about it again in the CX-9. Mazda actually revamped the CX-9 for the 2021 model year, which included giving it more torque, a sharp-looking Carbon Edition, and an updated infotainment system with a larger 10.25-inch screen.

Don’t get us wrong, we like the updates and especially enjoy the larger screen that displays some of the clearest graphics we’ve seen from an SUV in this class, however, we just couldn’t get over the system’s functionality. For example, while other SUVs from Toyota, and even Honda, use tuning knobs to help you navigate through the channels on satellite radio, on the Mazda CX-9, you have to toggle through a couple of menus just to get to the channel list to then scroll through it. Also, finding other small menu features like adjusting sound levels takes a few clicks and scrolls as well. 

A grey 2020 Mazda CX-9 sparked in near a lush green forest.
2020 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

Why is it such a pain?

You might be wondering why we’re taking the time to complain about such a trivial feature when the rest of the car is so great. We’re complaining about it because if we were about to lease or buy an SUV that we were going to drive for the next three to five years, something small like that would get pretty annoying after a while. Yes, there are shortcuts and presets that you can set, but what if you want to change to a non-preset station while you’re driving? You’ll definitely have to take your eyes off the road for a couple of minutes just to figure it out.

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

The rest of the Mazda CX-9 is fantastic

Otherwise, the rest of the Mazda CX-9 is as fantastic as you think it is. Our Signature-trimmed test car is outfitted with fine Nappa leather seating upholstery that looks like it’s from a class above and we’re particularly smitten with the second-row captain’s chair setup. There’s even a small center console with cupholders and a storage cubby in between the two seats, which gives the second-row sitters a first-class feel.

There is also plenty of room for six passengers, although, you would be better off having children sit in the third row. Otherwise, everyone will be well-entertained and well-seated thanks to a premium Bose sound system, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, and a bevy of USB inputs to keep all of your family’s personal entertainment devices charged and ready.

2020 Mazda CX-9 interior rear
2020 Mazda CX-9 interior rear | Mazda

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 Drives Like a Luxury SUV

Will Mazda ever update the infotainment system?

Considering Mazda just updated the CX-9 and might be redesigning soon enough, we doubt that the automaker will make any significant changes to the infotainment system. What’s interesting is that all it would have to do it reinsert a tuning knob and make the system a fully functional touchscreen, kind of like what Honda did, but we would be surprised if they even went that far since can cost a lot to do so.