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

Artist’s image of the tower proposed for 10761 King George Boulevard, looking from the northeast. (Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc., surrey.ca)
Surrey council approves 54-storey residential tower for city centre

The tower’s 479 residential units are expected to be ready for occupancy by early 2026

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

The Round Up Cafe has operated for more than six decades at 10449 King George Boulevard, Surrey. (File photo)
Surrey’s Round Up Cafe is set to close for good, after 60 years of feeding people

Cooking school might open in the Whalley space, manager says, but no firm plan yet

(File photo)
Surrey’s OCC fielded calls from 305,000 people in 2020, an ‘unusual’ year of fewer such calls

The numbers were released Monday in recognition of Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

The Delta Fire Fighters Healthy Snack Program is a new initiative launched in March by the Delta Fire Fighter and Charitable Society. The program currently supports six North Delta schools and will be expanding to many more schools in both North and South Delta in September. (Submitted photo)
Delta firefighters kick off school healthy snack program

Program currently supports six North Delta schools, with plans to expand across Delta come September

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

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

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Most Read