CX-9’s on-road behaviour will have you believing you’re piloting a sport-tuned machine instead of a 2,000-kilogram family bus with three rows of seats.

CX-9’s on-road behaviour will have you believing you’re piloting a sport-tuned machine instead of a 2,000-kilogram family bus with three rows of seats.

2021 Mazda CX-9: The closest thing to a 7-person sports car for the masses?

Style, space and performance, and for 2021, more luxury

The Mazda CX-9 is a solid choice for a utility vehicle that behaves somewhat differently from its competitors.

Yes, it ranks high on the style scale, but the CX-9’s on-road behaviour will have you believing you’re piloting a sport-tuned machine instead of a 2,000-kilogram family bus with three rows of seats.

For many years, Mazda’s focus for its entire fleet has been to deliver MX-5-Miata-sports-car-like driving enjoyment. The SkyActiv moniker that the company advertises extends past the powertrains and into vehicle dynamics. The marketing spin is that no matter what Mazda you buy, you’re getting a sharp-handling machine that will put a smile on your face.

And here we are.

The current-generation CX-9 that arrived for 2017 has changed very little over the intervening years, other than a mild restyling at both ends that remains true to Mazda’s Kodo (Soul of Motion) philosophy.

For 2021, there are numerous small tweaks and three new trims tilted toward the luxury spectrum.

The heart of the CX-9 is turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder rated at 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.

The heart of the CX-9 is turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder rated at 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.

The heart of the CX-9 is turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder rated at 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. That’s when burning 93-octane premium gasoline. On regular fuel, output is limited to 227 horses and 310 pound-feet. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The CX-9 is rated at 11.6 l/100 km in the city, 9.1 on the highway and 10.5 combined. Those numbers might be a challenge to attain because of the CX-9’s willingness to hustle up to speed without undue delay. Velocity is deceiving since the whisper-quiet cabin and silent-running engine might trick you into thinking you’re moving more slowly than you actually are.

The suspension absorbs road imperfections with relative ease, but the ride is also sure-footed and the steering is sharp. The main takeaway is that the CX-9 drives smaller than it really is.

It’s also quite capable with a tow rating of 1,590 kilograms, although this is less than most competing models with maximums of 2,270 kilograms.

Both the front- and second-row seating – either bench or available high-back bucket seats — are comfortable and supportive, while the standard third row (with two chairs) is best suited for smaller passengers.

The wide front-window pillars block some forward visibility, which means drivers should be extra watchful for pedestrians and cars at intersections.

The CX-9 GS, the least expensive of the six trim levels in Canada, starts at $41,900, including destination fees. It includes heated front seats, tri-zone climate control and a power-operated driver’s seat with lumbar adjust. You also get a number of dynamic-safety technologies such active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist.

The GS-L gets leather seat coverings, power front-passenger seat, heated second-row seat and power liftgate and moonroof.

The GT comes with a head-up information display, navigation system, 360-degree surround-view camera and a premium 12-speaker Bose audio package.

Standard with the new-for-2021 Signature and Kuro trims are quilted leather upholstery, power-sliding moonroof and 20-inch wheels (18s are standard). Second-row high-back bucket seats are also standard for both. The Kuro gets a black grille, wheels and trim plus red leather coverings.

For 2021, the entire Mazda fleet, including the CX-9, is available in 100th Anniversary Edition trim (the company actually began in 1920 as a cork manufacturer). Along with special badging, there’s premium red leather upholstery, special aluminum interior trim and a commemorative photo book and scale model of the 1960 Mazda R360, which was the automaker’s first passenger car.

Whichever model suits your needs or budget, The CX-9 delivers ample amounts of style, space and performance. And for 2021, more luxury.

The CX-9’s interior is luxurious, but not in a pillowy kind of way. Instead, think finely crafted designer luggage or home furnishings. PHOTO: WHEELBASE MEDIA

The CX-9’s interior is luxurious, but not in a pillowy kind of way. Instead, think finely crafted designer luggage or home furnishings. PHOTO: WHEELBASE MEDIA

What you should know: 2021 Mazda CX-9

Type: All-wheel-drive utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 2.5-litre I-4, turbocharged (227/250)

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Market position: There are many tall wagons on the market with three rows of seats that mostly focus on utility. The CX-9 definitely trades some of the usual boxy height and size for sporty looks and driving dynamics.

Points: Current five-year-old design still looks fresh. • Standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine performs as well as a V-6. • Interior styling and fittings smacks of luxury. • Modest towing capacity might not be enough for some utility buyers. • Don’t look for a hybrid option anytime soon although Mazda plans to introduce a new electrified vehicle in the near future.

Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); front emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (opt.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy): 11.6/9.1

Base price (incl. destination): $41,900

BY COMPARISON

Honda Pilot

  • Base price: $44,500
  • Eight-seat utility vehicle has a 280-h.p. V-6. Plenty of std. safety tech included.

Chevrolet Traverse AWD

  • Base price: $41,700
  • Roomy model can fit up to eight passengers. 310-h.p. V-6 is standard.

Subaru Ascent

  • Base price: $39,450
  • Seven-passenger wagon runs with a 260-h.p turbo I-4, engine. AWD standard.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

AutoscarsSUVsTrucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Katherine Swampy
Maskwacis chiefs are opposed to RAPID Response

Alberta Treaty 6 First Nations say they were not properly consulted

UCP Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr spoke to the Ponoka Chamber about the potential a new provincial government would provide to help support small business.
File photo
MLA Ron Orr: ‘Our constituents … want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms’

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA stands with 15 other UCP members calling out retreat on restrictions

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Ryan Applegarth
Applegarth’s murder charges proceed

Ryan Jake Applegarth, charged with the second degree murder of Chantelle Firingstoney,… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read