The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Kills the 2021 BMW X3 on Consumer Reports

Buying a car is tough. There are so many to choose from that it can get confusing, irritating, and all-around unfun. I think that is a shame. Buying cars should be a great time, and it can be if you take your time, research, and implement a little bit of objectivity. That last one can be the hard part, especially if you are like cars. But a little objectivity can go a long way. Take the 2021 Mazda CX-9 and the 2021 BMW X3, for instance. Most likely, you wanted one SUV over the other, and I bet I know which one it was. However, according to Consumer Reports, the BMW X3 isn’t even close to the same caliber as the CX-9. 

Consumer Reports loved the 2021 Mazda CX-9

Consumer Reports calls the CX-9 the three-row SUV driver’s choice. It is agile, easy to drive, and has plenty of power to move you along your day. Not only is it reliable and efficient, but it also looks suprisingly good. The front end is dramatic and curvy, while the back end rounds out to almost a sporty shape. The aggressive headlight design takes it from a boring family car to something you are proud to be seen getting out of at the store. These things and more amount to a soil 80/100 on CR’s overall score. 

A red 2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD parked in the snow  | Rob Corn
2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | Rob Corn

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Is the 2021 BMW X3 a good SUV? 

The BMW is no slouch. It isn’t a sports car, but it’s about as close as you can get in an SUV. It is agile, responsive, firm, and aggressive. These are great when talking about a track car, but for an SUV meant for hauling the family around, it leaves you questioning, “what is this thing actually good for?” CR reports that while the handling is great, the ride can be a bit stiff and jarring at times. The cabin is quiet and well-equipped. Honestly, there seems to be almost nothing to dislike about the driving experience. After all, this is what BMW is known for. Then why did CR give it a score of 69/100? 

Overall the BMW X3 and the Mazda CX-9 rule. They are both sporty, fun to drive, and pretty to look at. So what happened. If the BMW is even better on the road than the Mazda, why did it earn such a lower score? 

How reliable is the 2021 BMW X3? 

Not very, it would seem. CR gave it a predicted reliability score of only 2 / 5. The earlier models, including the 2020 model, have been plagued with issues and recalls over the years, leading to low confidence in its reliability. 

A white 2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e on a snowy mountain
2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e | BMW

The X3 has had three recalls related to different electronic issues like the backup camera, battery, and the traction system. Although major mechanical problems don’t seem to be the problem with X3 since 2015, it has struggled with various electronic issues, even 2020 models. 

The only other complaint about the X3 is the lack of cargo space. This is the downside of having a sporty SUV. If you go too far into the “sport” side, the “utility” part takes a hit. This leaves us with a less sporty vehicle with less room and gets less mpg than simply buying a sports sedan. 

The Mazda CX-9 has almost none of those issues

While the Mazda isn’t as powerful or agile, it will be exponentially faster than a BMW X3 if its electronics fry out and the SUV is in Limp mode. This is why CR values reliability over almost anything else. If your car regularly has issues, then the rest of the positives just don’t matter that much. The Mazda toes the line of sporty and luxurious without ever compromising the most important thing, reliability. 

Os if you want something with plenty of space, a fancy interior, sporty, and you want to save $9,000, you might take a look at the Mazda CX-9.