Updated: Apr 1, 2022
The Mazda CX-9 has been at the top of our list for three-row SUVs for a while---a position cemented by its stellar performance during our big 2017 road trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, chronicled on the old TireKicker site.
A bit more than three years on, it's remarkable how satisfying the CX-9 is, with very few changes between then and now. It is what it has been since the beginning of this generation, a near-luxury vehicle at a family vehicle price.
Under the hood, it's still the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter turbo engine, making 227 horsepower and 310 pounds per foot of torque. Still the same six-speed automatic transmission, which still gets an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon city/26 highway (add two mpg to each if you opt for the front-wheel drive version). More gears would be nice and would improve that number.
Two extra gears is a pretty short wish list. In top-of-the-line Signature trim, the 2021 Mazda CX-9 is a very thoroughly equipped vehicle. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at the base price of $46,605 are 20-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power moonroof, Nappa leather-trimmed seats and a 12-speaker Bose audio system.
In fact, there was only one extra-cost option on our test vehicle---the $395 Snowflake White Pearl paint. So, with $1,100 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price for the 2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD comes to $48,100.
Significantly less than $50,000 for a vehicle that for all the world feels like it should cost somewhere in the low 60s. That's remarkable value. And it's why, year after year, the Mazda CX-9 gets our wholehearted approval.