A couple of months ago, I spent the week with the 2021.5 Mazda CX-5, a competent and handsome SUV which I really liked. Being a compact SUV, the CX-5 offers seating for up to 5 and a good amount of storage, but what do you do if you want all of the CX-5’s qualities but need more room? The answer is the up-to-7-seater Mazda CX-9.
Launched in 2006, the CX-9 was, and still is, the largest SUV of the range. Just like its smaller sibling, the CX-9 is a very good, young, looking SUV. Impressively, Mazda managed to take their “Kodo: Soul of Motion” design language, which appears on all of their vehicles and apply it to their largest one, which, despite not being a winning recipe with every manufacturer, was a success here.
The CX-9 I spent time with is a top-of-the-line Signature which features 20-inch grey alloy wheels, wood details inside and second-row captain seating with “premium centre console”. All of those add considerably to the luxurious feeling inside the car where you can choose from two colours: Deep Chestnut and Pure White. Please do not choose the latter, especially if you’re planning on using it as a family vehicle. The car I had was equipped with it, and personally, it does not look good, plus it’s easily stainable. Combine that with the wood trim and the silver-ish trim found on the dash and doors, and there is just too much going on, colour-wise. Just like the CX-5, the CX-9 feels more luxurious and expensive than it really is, from the cabin to the driving experience.
Speaking of driving experience, the CX-9 offers a sporty ride which makes it not boring to drive, I wouldn’t call it fun, but you can tell they made an effort. Unfortunately, the CX-9 is equipped with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen that is not a touch screen. I really believe Mazda should start putting touch screens in their vehicles, especially considering the effort they’re putting into becoming a luxurious brand.
Most buyers of this SUV are looking for a family vehicle and they will be pleased to know that the CX-9 is quite spacious, and the third row is easily accessible. I took it for quite a long drive with 4 adult friends and everyone was comfortable. Keep in mind the Signature is a 6-seater. In the cargo area, you get 407 litres of volume which can be increased to 1,082 litres by folding the third row of seats. Folding it is fairly easy but putting it back up is a bit of a pain, you have to reach all the way inside and grab a handle on the seat back, this definitely could be improved. Compared to the competition, the CX-9 is cheaper, but it offers considerably less cargo volume. If this is important to you, you might want to compare them. Cheaper, but not by much, the CX-9 starts at $40,950 but can go all the way up to $52,850 with the Signature trim, AWD is standard. Under the hood, the CX-9 has the Skyactiv-G 2.5 T, a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that develops up to 250 hp. Mazda gives you the choice, if you put 93 octane, you get the full 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, but you can also put regular 87 octane and get 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which like the cargo volume, is lower than all of its rivals.
I really enjoyed my experience with the CX-9, it’s a handsome SUV that will allow you to ride with your family in style. The driving experience is great and the cabin is luxurious, you won’t really feel like you’re driving a people carrier. The downsides arrive when you compare it to its rivals, it is less powerful and offers less cargo space. In my opinion, it does look better than the other SUVs in its segment, but it might not be enough—it really depends on your needs. It’s still a very good SUV and you won’t regret your choice.
Vehicle provided by Mazda Canada
Photography by Olivier Lessard