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There are some vehicles on the market that seem to check off all the boxes. The 2021 Mazda CX-9 might be one of those models. Sporty performance? Check. Comfortable interior? Check. Smart safety systems? Check.

This three-row SUV is an industry darling, and it’s easy to see why. The CX-9 resembles a luxury vehicle, and it inherited Mazda’s iconic driving dynamics. However, shoppers and critics alike might be overlooking a troubling flaw.

Many consider Mazda to be one of the safest car brands. But the manufacturer’s largest SUV has a serious question mark in the safety department. Should one major drawback dissuade drivers from purchasing the CX-9? Let’s take a deeper dive into the 2021 Mazda CX-9’s most significant issue to see if it’s still a safe option for your family.

This three-row SUV is quick, but not where it counts

A silver 2021 Mazda CX-9 parked next to trees
The 2021 Mazda CX-9 on display | Photo via Mazda

No one expects larger vehicles to handle like sports cars, but drivers still don’t want their three-row SUV to be sluggish. Thankfully, the 2021 Mazda CX-9 is one of the more exciting entries in the class.

However, its energetic performance may come at a cost. According to Consumer Reports testing, the 2021 CX-9 delivers one of the worst braking distances in the midsize SUV class. It took this model 139 feet to come from a complete stop from 60-0 MPH. Only the 2021 Jeep Wrangler performed worse, accomplishing the feat in a dreadful 144 feet.

It can’t be easy for a vehicle that delivers 250 hp and weighs more than 4,000 pounds to come to a complete stop. Regardless, this lack of stopping power may give some shoppers pause when selecting their next family vehicle. After all, when split-second dangers happen on the road, every foot counts.

Does the 2021 Mazda CX-9 overcome its flaw?

Thankfully, the CX-9 delivers the responsive steering for which Mazdas are known. While this doesn’t eliminate any worries caused by its poor brake performance, it should ease shoppers’ concerns a bit.

Consumer Reports’ review praised the agility of the 2021 Mazda CX-9, stating, “It steers into corners in a resolute manner, conveying a sense of control and precision to the driver.”

Though, this statement comes with a caveat. The publication tested the CX-9’s upper trims, which come with 20-inch wheels. Consumer Reports noted the 18-inch wheels on the Sport and Touring models don’t lend themselves to as quick of handling.

Thankfully, the 2021 Mazda CX-9 performed decently in Consumer Reports’ emergency handling tests. It earned a score of 3/5, and the publication’s review said the CX-9 “instilled decent confidence despite an initial onset of oversteer.”

How safe is the 2021 Mazda CX-9?

Sure, stopping power is a concern. But how does the rest of the vehicle hold up? The CX-9 has a history of being safe, and the 2021 model year is no different. 

The 2021 CX-9 comes standard with a suite of driver-assistance technologies that sense and react to danger. These systems include automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, and more. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2021 CX-9 a Top Safety Pick +, which is the organization’s highest honor.

The SUV fared well in all of the IIHS’ crashworthiness categories. Plus, the CX-9’s front-crash prevention safety features earned a perfect score in vehicle-to-vehicle tests.

Is this SUV a safe option for your family?

No car is perfect, especially when it comes to safety. That’s why it’s crucial that drivers maintain awareness of their surroundings and quickly act when danger strikes.

The 2021 Mazda CX-9’s long stopping distances don’t necessarily make it an unsafe SUV. However, CX-9 drivers should keep this flaw in mind when operating the vehicle and consider braking a bit earlier than usual.

Mazda wisely equipped this model with standard front-crash prevention systems that can also aid drivers who don’t react quickly enough. For instance, features like automatic emergency braking can take over to avoid a crash or mitigate damage.


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