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

A rendering shows an “mini urban bazaar” for very small businesses proposed in Cumberland. Image, Cumberland staff report
Cumberland considers microbusiness hub downtown

Applicant will have to host online or outdoor meeting for public input

From left - Rev. Sulin Milne, rector of St Peter’s, Karen Cummins and Bill Henderson of Nature Comox Valley pose for a photo with the newly-planted Garry oak tree. Photo supplied
Young Garry oak planted at St. Peter’s church gardens as a sign of resiliency

By Tony Reynolds Special to The Record St Peter’s Anglican Church, Comox,… Continue reading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read