2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature. Driver’s Choice and Joy

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Overview

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature

The CX9 is Mazda’s biggest vehicle on the market. Competing on the three-row seven-seater SUV market segment, it is a viable alternative even if this model is slightly outdated. However, when it comes to driving dynamics, it is definitely modern and up-to-date.

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Engine and Powertrain

Mazda is known as a brand with its modern gasoline engines. Under the prestigious name, Skyactiv, Mazda has been optimizing internal combustion engines for over a decade. The engine is the central factor of Skyactive technologies that includes the engine, the transmission, the chassis and the body. The engine under the hood of the CX9 is a 2.5 litre 4-cylinder engine with turbocharging or DPT (Dynamic Pressure Turbo) as Mazda calls it. The engine delivers 227 or 250 horsepower and 310 or 320 lb-ft of torque depending on the fuel type (87 or 93 octane). One important feature of the Skyactiv engine is its almost diesel-like high compression ratio of 10.5. This feature significantly improves and flattens the torque curve and also helps to lower fuel consumption. Combined with the turbocharging system this high-tech engine delivers power and torque smoothly with almost no noticeable turbo lag. For the driver, this is an enjoyable driving experience and fulfilment of Mazda’s promise to make vehicles for drivers.

The engine of the 2021 Mazda CX-9 signature is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Newer models in this class go higher with 8 or even 9-speed gearboxes. Having said that, I never felt the lack of a better transmission during my test drive.

2021 Mazda CX9 Signature

The 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder Skyactiv engine with DPT (Dynamic Pressure Turbo) delivers 227 or 250 horsepower and 310 or 320 lb-ft of torque

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Interior

The interior is well crafted with high-quality materials and Mazda’s dedication to becoming a premium brand comes into life again. It is less of a surprise to us since we experienced this quality in our earlier test drives with the 6, X5 and X3. A smart move for a company with a global production volume of around three million, thus significantly below the scales of automotive giants, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and so on. Cooperation with other companies like Toyota (already a shareholder at Mazda) or Ford to create scale advantage while elevating the status and perception of the brand to premium is crucially important for Mazda and the century-old and highly respected brand is doing the right thing.

The dashboard, the instruments and the infotainment system are ergonomic and well built. The front seats are very comfortable

However, this premium environment inside cannot reveal the fact that’s the CX-9 is ageing even gracefully. The 10.25″ infotainment screen, despite the precise and non-distracting controls, is now outdated and the screen is too small compared to some other competitors, such as Kia Telluride. The precise controls of the function via a central knob and shortcut buttons are very precise and even better than in some other luxury brands.

The Bose premium sound system with 12 speakers, also thanks to good sound isolation provides an impressive audio experience that we find in luxury brands.

The 10.25″ infotainment screen is a bit small compared to the competition, but the controls are precise and non-distractive

Although Mazda CX-9 is “technically” a 7- seater three-row SUV, it is not. The third row can accommodate only two people, though comfortably. Even for short rides, there is hardly a place for the third person. Access to this place is not easy either. It is almost worth remembering that when it comes to third-row seating, few SUVs can beat the minivans.

The second-row captain chairs promise comfort also for the long rides

The Mazda CX-9 is not the best choice when it comes to third-row seating. This place is for two people only, even on short rides. Also, access to the third row is not very easy

When it comes to cargo volume the Mazda CX9 is definitely not the best in its class. especially Not much space is left for the luggage and if you have a big family with kids.  A cargo box seems inevitable for longer trips.

When the second and third-row seats are folded flat, a gap remains on the floor between second and third-row seats and this makes the loading surface imperfect.

The cargo volume behind the third row is 407 litres and thus below the class average

With the third-row seats folded, the cargo volume increase to 1,082 litres

With the folded second-row seats the maximum cargo volume is 2,017 litres

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Driving Impressions

That is absolutely the strongest point Mazda CX9 has. This SUV is absolutely a driver’s vehicle. The acceleration is impressive and the steering response is sparky even in the normal mood. You never feel underpowered and you think there is a six-cylinder engine under the hood the turbo kicks in very smoothly.

Behind the steering wheel of the 2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature, you think you drive a smaller vehicle than it is. One important factor giving this impression is the so-called  GVC (G-Vectoring Control) as part of the Skyactiv technology. In Mazda’s words “GVC maximizes tire performance by focusing on the vertical load on the tires. The moment the driver starts to turn the steering wheel, GVC controls engine drive torque to generate a deceleration G-force, thereby shifting load to the front wheels. This increases front-wheel tire grip, enhancing the vehicle’s turn-in responsiveness.”

Components of Skyactiv Technology (The pictogram is the property of Mazda Media)

As we drove faster than usual around the corners and in curves, we had a better understanding of why the CX-9 provides a more engaged driving experience and hence deserves to be called a driver’s car.

 

I see two main reasons to opt for the Mazda CX-9: The long-term reliability the excellent engineering promises and simply the joy of driving a Mazda

255/50R20 tires provide a good grip also while cornering

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Pricing and Equipment

For details of the pricing and equipment of our tester and also general product information, please see the summaries below:

 

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature: Conclusion

The Mazda CX-9 is not the newest model in this class. However with its modern engine, the driving pleasure and long-term reliability of Mazda vehicles the CX-9 remains as one of the best alternatives in the three-row SUV segment. We can even call it “Driver’s Choice”.

For more information, please visit: http://www.mazda.ca

For reviews of other Mazda vehicles, please visit: https://www.autoandroad.com