The redesigned Mazda CX-9 employs the company-wide design philosophy known as KODO. The crossover weighs 250 pounds less thanks in no small part to replacing big 3.7L V6 with a 2.5L turbocharged four. The engine powers the full CX-9 range and produces 227 horsepower when using regular unleaded and 250 horsepower on 93 octane. The engine also makes an impressive 310 pound-feet of torque from just 2,000 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The CX-9 boasts three rows of seating with room for up to seven passengers, and it comes with standard front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available. The CX-9 comes in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. Even the base Sport is nicely equipped, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, 3-zone automatic climate control, Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch color touchscreen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.
The Touring adds keyless entry and start, a power tailgate with programmable height adjustment, heated mirrors, leather seating with heated front seats and 8-way power adjustability for the driver and an 8-inch color touchscreen. Standard advanced safety features include a blind-spot warning system with rear cross traffic alert. An available Premium Package brings LED fog lights, Bose stereo, navigation, back-up sensors and more.
Stepping up to the Grand Touring affords 20-inch alloy wheels, a power glass moonroof and chrome exterior accents with aluminum roof rails. Inside there's a head-up display 12-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, aluminum inlays, driver's seat memory, and i-ACTIVESENSE advanced safety features such as adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and more.
Finally, the top-of-the-line, CX-9 Signature brings standard all-wheel drive in addition to LED accent lighting in the grille, LED interior ambient lighting, Napa leather seating and trim with rosewood inlays and a leather steering wheel.
Standard safety features on all CX-9s include dual front airbags, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls, a rearview camera and a tire-pressure monitor.
Believe it or not, the second-generation Mazda CX-9 is already six years old. But it still looks clean and fresh, and its driving dynamics also continue to deliver. Even so, six years is a long time in the automotive world, which is why Mazda gave the CX-9 some styling and tech updates for 2021 to help keep it relevant.
In the case of my range-topping CX-9 Signature test car, 2021 brings a trio of exterior changes. The grille is now finished in Titanium Gray Metallic, there are larger exhaust outlets around back and the whole package rides on new 20-inch Brilliant Silver wheels. None of the changes are earth-shattering -- especially the bland 10-spoke wheels -- but the CX-9's design remains handsome overall.
Slide into the Signature's cabin and you're greeted with an attractive, straightforward dash built from some really handsome materials. The dash and door panel toppers are soft to the touch, the hard plastics on lower portions are well finished and the Santos rosewood trim makes the whole interior look premium. In addition, the first- and second-row Nappa leather seats get new diamond-quilted bolsters and contrasting piping, while the real aluminum accent trim now sports a patterned finish.
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