With each passing twelvemonth, it seems the gap between mainstream and premium products narrows evermore.
That’s specially true of three-row SUVs, with brands previously associated with inexpensive and cheerful churning out family haulers that wouldn’t be out of place in the poshest parts of boondocks. The
GMC Acadia Denali
are but two examples of vehicles that tin can be kitted out to mostly keep upwards with big-money competitors from Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, among others.
Equally deserving of a spot on that listing is the 2021 Mazda CX-ix, a sport utility that lacks the outright size of its adversaries just delivers a specialness that sets it autonomously from the competition.
It’s not in every manner that the CX-9 has what it takes to become up against a
Lexus RX, or fifty-fifty in every trim. This is nevertheless a mainstream product, after all, and it must maintain a broader appeal equally a result. Notwithstanding, it’s certainly not short of features – even in its thriftiest duds.
While plenty of entries in the segment start with front-wheel drive to keep their prices down, every version of the CX-9 sold in Canada comes with all-wheel traction. On peak of that, in that location’s all kinds of good stuff similar heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment with Apple tree CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a whole host of advanced prophylactic items including adaptive cruise command, lane-continue assist, and bullheaded-spot monitoring, among others. And all that’s included for about $twoscore,000 earlier fees and taxes.
Moving to the $43,600 GS-L trim sees the wheels grow to xx inches all around, and bumps the infotainment display to a nine-inch unit (a seven-inch screen is standard). On top of that, it gets a ability tailgate, leather upholstery throughout, a heated steering bike and 2d-row seats, and the pick to switch the configuration to captain’due south chairs in the dorsum for an extra $300.
The GT trim adds more than safety items similar a surround-view monitor, front end and rear parking sensors, a head-upwardly display (HUD), traffic-sign recognition, and reverse automatic braking for its $48,850 asking cost. There’s also a kicking sensor to open the tailgate, a 12-speaker stereo, a wireless phone charger and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, and ventilated front seats. Also offered is a Kuro Edition bundle that adds all kinds of blackness accents and a crimson leather interior for $50,150 before fees and the government’due south share.
Finally, for $51,850 the CX-nine Signature adds niceties like quilted leather upholstery, too every bit a few wooden interior accents, plus the ability to upgrade to the 100th Anniversary Edition package that makes this sport utility truly something special.
The ceremony pack is a $1,500 homage to the automaker’s first-ever car, the R360, and it’s how to outfit the CX-nine with the funky interior seen here. Going beyond the red leather in the Kuro Edition, the cabin gets all kinds of off-white contrast accents and a ruby carpet throughout. While the latter is reminiscent of a 1980s Buick and might not historic period especially well, information technology’s unique at the very to the lowest degree and helps the already stylish CX-9 stand up out.
This most-expensive CX-nine model ($53,350) is only offered in a pearl white cease, though it suits the sport utility’s flowing lines just fine. It’s non the best execution of the brand’s pattern language – that honour belongs to a car such equally the
– and looks a petty bloated
compared to something like the CX-5, however information technology’s objectively more eye-catching than the average three-row SUV.
Possibly that’s considering Mazda’s designers could be defendant of prioritizing class over role. Whereas well-nigh models this size are boxy and upright, accentuating the infinite inside as a result, the CX-9 is sleek despite appearing somewhat bulbous. Have the
Honda Pilot, for example; dimensionally, it’southward not much different, stretching a similar length from bumper to bumper. Withal the big Honda is both wider and taller, resulting in far more usable space inside.
Its ability to carry cargo might well exist this Mazda’s biggest shortcoming, with luggage volume that’s closer to that of a much smaller sport utility similar the
Toyota RAV4. In fact, according to the spec canvas there’s i,082 L backside the second-row seats and ii,017 Fifty with them folded, both of which are inside a few dozen litres of that popular Toyota. By comparison, the Pilot boasts 1,583 L of infinite with its second row upright and more than 3,000 Fifty with it stowed.
One time deployed, cargo room behind the CX-nine’s rearmost seats shrinks to just 407 Fifty – similar to that of the tiny
subcompact crossover. The seats themselves aren’t especially roomy either, with your writer unable to clasp in the back with the second-row seats in place. While youngsters through their early on adolescent years should do just fine during shorter trips, those seats truly are best reserved for emergency purposes only.
Perhaps, and so, the all-time way to look at the CX-9 isn’t equally a proper three-row SUV only as an oversized ii-row that happens to have some extra seats in the dorsum. When viewed through that lens – and fitted with captain’s chairs – this biggest Mazda model is a superb family unit hauler. In that location’s plenty of space for four people to stretch out, and tons of modest-particular storage with the total-size center panel between the dorsum seats.
User Friendliness: 7/ten
Climbing aboard this sport utility is made easy through four large doors that extend all the way to the bottoms of the rocker panels, protecting pant legs in the procedure. Unfortunately, reaching across the bulging back bumper to release the third-row seats has the opposite result, with short handles to do so rather than straps like others in the segment such as the
Front-seat headroom is more than adequate for those of diverse statures, though the seating position is slightly odd, with a awareness similar to that of sitting on a phonebook fifty-fifty with the driver’southward seat in its everyman setting. At that place are a few small-scale hindrances to outward visibility, too, such every bit the thick A-pillars and big tertiary-row headrests, but keeping a shut eye on what’s happening exterior is fabricated piece of cake thanks to those big doors and their large windows.
While the affluence of matte blackness plastic controls doesn’t come up across as especially luxurious – it’due south the same kind of stuff found in a $20,000
– all of information technology presents with outstanding clarity. The bank of climate controls is mounted a little low on the dash, but straightforward knobs and well-labelled buttons brand the system like shooting fish in a barrel to operate at a glance. The same goes for the logical layout of controls on the steering wheel for phone, audio, and adaptive cruise control, or the banking concern of buttons adjacent to the driver’s left knee. It’s commonplace in the segment to stash switchgear there for the torso release and other features, just the CX-9’s is easily attainable compared to entries like the
that keep those buttons obscured from view.
For infotainment duty, the CX-9 employs a familiar – and oftentimes frustrating – set of panel controls in add-on to its touchscreen display. As office of Mazda’southward approach to condom, the touchscreen is disabled while the vehicle is in motion, forcing users to rely on the buttons and dial on the console. (But hey, at least it has one to begin with, unlike
the Mazda CX-30 that’due south in drastic need of a touchscreen.)
The infotainment interface itself isn’t among the leading systems on the market place, with a archaic look and feel to go with average responsiveness. While the newer CX-30 at to the lowest degree gets a more mod iteration of the automaker’southward interface, the CX-ix relies on an older version that’s not as attractive or easy to use. The unit tested also rebooted itself on a few occasions, though the wireless CarPlay connection was all but seamless.
Again, merely how much safer a panel-mounted controller is than a touchscreen is debatable, but Mazda’s efforts are laudable however. And so, too, is the inclusion of all manner of advanced rubber and driver-assist systems like adaptive cruise command that works in end-and-go traffic, bullheaded-spot monitoring, lane-difference warning and lane-keep aid, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
With ever-more-stringent criteria to authorize for its awards, the Insurance Establish for Highway Rubber (IIHS) named the Mazda CX-ix ane of but five Top Condom Pick+ winners in the segment due to its functioning in various crash and crash-abstention tests. One surface area that could use improvement, however, is photographic camera quality. Whether the government-mandated back-upwards camera or the front and side ones that make up this tester’s surround-view system, the poor resolution of the camera feeds makes them difficult to use, particularly in depression-light conditions.
Driving Feel: 8/x
When it comes to more basic condom equipment, the brakes could stand to be a piddling firmer and seize with teeth earlier in the pedal travel, with every one of the CX-ix’south 2,000 kg (four,409 lb) or so felt when trying to bring it to a halt in a hurry. The feel isn’t quite unnerving, but it’s shut. It also lacks the abrupt steering feel Mazda has long been known for, with a setup that’due south light even past large SUV standards. And just like during braking, all of its mass becomes credible when cornering. It’due south not that at that place’s much body roll to contend with, simply it lacks the buttoned-down mannerisms of most Mazda products – including other, smaller SUVs.
Surely the winter tires worn past this tester didn’t help, contributing a kind of squishiness to the drive. Information technology also might be a by-production of the suspension setup that’s merely outstanding, and if and then information technology’southward a merchandise-off that’due south worth making.
With your author spending
the two weeks prior to this evaluation with the Genesis GV80
and its reckoner-controlled interruption, the CX-9 proved itself an astonishingly composed cruiser. Whatever witchcraft the automaker is employing, information technology would do well to bottle it upwardly and sell it to proper premium brands – information technology’s that proficient.
That the CX-ix rides on a conventional system that employs former-fashioned shocks and springs rather than air intermission or adaptive dampers makes the quality of its ride that much more impressive, the family unit hauler floating downwardly the road with an incredible smoothness.
Farther adding to the ambiance of its upscale bulldoze is the agile noise cancellation organisation that keeps outside interference to a minimum, and the upgraded leather seats that provide ample support for long drives. The 2d-row captain’s chairs are comfortable, too, and feature steep recline functionality – however, the pivot indicate is rather loftier in order for them to fold flat for more cargo room, protruding awkwardly into adult occupants’ lower backs as a result.
If there was one expanse besides the plastic controls that beguile the well-nigh-premium experience provided by the CX-9 information technology’s what’southward under the hood. While others in this space rely on shine and refined V6 engines for power generation, the but ane offered hither is a turbocharged iv-cylinder that at times strains to movement the mass of such a large vehicle. Displacing ii.5L, the motor is more than adequate in every other awarding – and there are a lot of them, every bit Mazda will put this into just about everything it fits – but it protests loudly when prodded here, the CX-9’southward extra weight an obvious brunt.
Mated to the motor is a six-speed automatic transmission that’s buttery smooth, sending torque to the all-cycle drive organization that’s fully automated; there are no settings to suit, and information technology shuffles torque around all on its own. As a whole, the powertrain is decent, with appropriate throttle response and impressive output (with peaks of 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, it’s among the most stout 4-cylinders offered in an SUV like this). Information technology’south simply the way it strains itself while working that misses the marking as far as providing a virtually-premium experience is concerned.
Fuel Economy: eight/10
The trade-off to a turbo engine like this in place of a larger-deportation one is the fuel consumption information technology returns. Despite its overall size, the CX-9 is officially rated to burn a combined average of 10.5 L/100 km – a number that was virtually matched during testing. The CX-nine tin also be run on less-expensive fuel without much punishment. While it calls for pricey 93-octane to brand those meridian engine output numbers, putting regular-grade gas in the tank sees them driblet just to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Pricing is also among the CX-nine’s strengths – particularly at the height of the lineup. This 100th Anniversary Edition tester that comes fully loaded with all the stuff from the Signature model but adds the standout interior finishes is $53,350 before freight and taxes, which undercuts near summit-of-the-line competitors by at least a little. The Hyundai Palisade and its new Ultimate Calligraphy trim, for instance, is $54,699, while the gas-powered
Platinum is $54,450. Fifty-fifty the GMC Acadia Denali is priced at $53,998, and that’s earlier options including its fantastic adaptive suspension.
Something the Mazda CX-9 lacks compared to all three of those rivals – and several more fighting in this near-premium space – is a V6, and that shortcoming is hard to ignore in terms of the premium refinement information technology would surely bring to the engine bay. But there are enough of other ways information technology makes the absence forgivable, the least of which is its competitive pricing. The ride quality is fantastic and, maybe more than anything else, the experience it provides is just so special.
Information technology doesn’t have everything it takes to become head-to-head with a proper premium SUV similar the Genesis GV80 or Lexus RX, just for all the money information technology saves the Mazda CX-nine sure does a great impersonation of ane.
- Chevrolet Blazer
- Contrivance Durango
- Ford Explorer
- GMC Acadia
- Hyundai Palisade
- Kia Telluride
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Subaru Ascension
- Toyota Highlander
- Volkswagen Atlas
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||250 hp @ 5,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||320 lb-ft @ ii,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.6 / nine.1 / x.v 50/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||407 / 1,082 / ii,017 Fifty behind third/2d/1st row|
|Model Tested||2021 Mazda CX-nine 100th Ceremony Edition|
|Price equally Tested||$55,400|