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Mazda CX-9 is underrated but delivers on driveability and value
SUV pushes toward luxury market
 
Published Wednesday, March 24, 2021 4:30 pm
by Winfred Cross

PHOTO | MAZDA
Mazda’s CX-9 is an underrated SUV that delivers value.

Mazda’s CX-9 continues to be one of the best driving SUVs on the market that few buyers know about. This 2021 Signature AWD model may do a lot to change buyers’ perception.

The CX-9 isn’t for you if you need a big third row, or overall utility. However, if you want luxury and good driving dynamics at a somewhat reasonable price, this is you. When you step up to top-dog Signature models, the second row now has Captain’s chairs.


For 2021, Mazda has given the Signature partially quilted leather seats, which push this model toward luxury. Paired with real wood, metal and other leather covered surfaces, the cabin is a wonderful place to sit. There is also a new 10.25-inch touch screen with the latest Mazda infotainment system. The signature model also gets a distinct grille.


There is also a new for 2021 Carbon edition that slots between Touring and Grand Touring models.It test special paint, 20-inch wheels and red leather seats.


This is essentially the same CX-9 introduced in 2016, but Mazda keeps tweaking this beauty to keep it surprisingly competitive. It is still powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine that makes 227 horsepower and 310 pounds off torque.


If you use premium gas horsepower increases to 250 with no gain in torque. This is more than enough to get you in and out of traffic with no drama or to send you down the road in a hurry.


The engine is coupled to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is available in all trim levels. Two-wheel drives get a combined 25 miles per gallon overall. City driving will average about 21 mpg while cruising on the highway gets you 28 mpg.


Speaking of highway driving, the CX-9 continues to be eerily quiet when doing so. The ride is compliant and only gets choppy on the roughest of surfaces. Handling? You won’t find something that handles like this in the price class. Mazda has always stressed the fun part in driving on all its vehicles and the CX-9 is certainly included. It turns crisply around corners - even some tight ones - without a lot of body roll.


Put your foot in it and you hear a nice gurgle and feel some giddy up.


You’re not getting a BMW MX-5, but you will be happy with the vehicle’s sporty nature. I still say the company should push the chassis harder with a V6 making about 275 hp to 290 hp, but the turbo four handles things nicely.


The CX-9 Signature comes with a host of standard features which include anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, triple zone automatic climate controls, roof rails, backup camera, Bose, 12-speaker sound system with surround processing, three-row seating with Nappa leather surfaces, heated front seats, power package, leather covered steering wheel and shift knob, push-button start, remote start, keyless entry, Sirius/XM radio, blind-spot detection, lane keeping system, cruise control,10.25-inch monitor, hands-free lift gate, integrated navigation, traffic sign recognition, AWD, second row Captain’s chairs and real wood inlays.


The exterior is still handsome, but competitors have caught up to the once stunning look.


The large, gaping grille is in keeping with current styling. This vehicle pushes closer to $50,00 than I would like, but how long ago was it that $45,000 for a Hyundai seemed a stretch?


Pros:
• Styling


• Lavish interior


• Driving dynamics


• Clean design


• Standard features


Cons:
• Tight rear seat


• A little pricey


• Needs update soon


Email Winfred Cross at cross@alldaytech.com.

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