Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Might Kill Your Desire to Buy a Cadillac

“Luxury” is an interesting term. By definition, Luxury is “the state of great comfort and extravagant living,” but that, like most things, is relative. It used to be that air conditioning was luxurious. Now, it is a given. The same is true for back-up cameras, Bluetooth, and so on. The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD is an example of a model with so many “luxury” features that when you compare it to a classic luxury brand like Cadillac, the price disparity might make your head tilt a little. 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD is not a Cadillac but it’s getting close

I spent a week driving the CX-9. When it arrived, I was annoyed at how boring it seemed to me. For a car to be nearly $50,000 and be so boring is offensive to me. After the course of the week and hoping in and out countless times to run errands, go hiking, and snap some photos of the snowy mountains of Western North Carolina, the anger slowly melted away. It turns out; It’s hard to be angry when you’re that comfortable…

Look, I’m not saying it is nicer or even as nice as a Cadillac XT6 or anything like that, but I am saying it’s close. When you compare the money between the two, the gap gets even narrower. The fully loaded CX-9 costs $47,705 compared to the fully loaded XT6 at $55,095. That is a big gap, and I can promise you that the Mazda isn’t $7,000 less comfy or capable. 

The CX-9 has a lovely interior 

The Signature comes with optional two-tone quilted leather seats and panels. I had the light grey and black, and between you and I, dear reader, it looked like a million bucks. Once inside, I had to remind myself that I was in a Mazda regularly. The interior mixed multicolored leathers, brushed aluminum, and even real rosewood. I haven’t been in many Mazdas in my time, and the ones I had been in were older base-models that were less than inspiring. Mazda has truly rounded a corner in the interior department. 

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | Rob Corn
2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | Rob Corn

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The interior touch points are soft, pretty, and comfortable, but there is still more going on inside. Car and Driver was also impressed with the interior. They measured the new infotainment screen at a sizeable 10.3 inches. The system is easy to use and fairly intuitive, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for Cadillac’s infotainment systems. 

If might be a three-row SUV but it feels light and nimble

The best of the CX-9 for me was that it still had that Mazda spark with all its luxurious amenities and beautiful interior touches. Even though this is a three-row SUV, it still has a tiny little turbocharged four-cylinder. In my opinion, this was a big risk for Mazda to put such a small motor in a biggish car. 

Not only is the little turbo four pulling down a combined 26 mpg, but it has some real pep. This three-row SUV with a four-banger can still hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. Although that isn’t screaming fast, the CX-9 still plays a Mazda’s greatest strength, handling. 

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | Rob Corn
2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | Rob Corn

I ran the CX-9 up and down and all-around the narrow and tangled roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It never so much as batted a headlight and the pile of decreasing radius corners. Listen, I’m not saying it’s some kind of race car, it’s an SUV, but it takes corners far better than any SUV has the right to. It corners flat and direct. The Miata spirit is alive and well, even in the form of a heavy three-row SUV. 

The Mazda CX-9 blew me away

Yes, the Signature AWD was very nice and plush, but you can still get a great car if you step down to the touring package that only costs around $36,000. Compare that to the XT6, and you really start to make the Cadillac look silly. Mazda is coming into their own, and y’all better lookout. Luxury is relative; however, a great car isn’t. The Mazda CX-9 is pretty close to great. Hell, maybe it is great.