Eric's Autos: 2021 Mazda CX-9
Mazda is what BMW was, once upon a time.
And for a great deal less money, too.
At the Curb
How do you make an appliance sexy?
The CX-9 isn't a Jaguar E-Type, of course. Or even a Miata, for that matter. But it also isn't just another crossover , God help us all. Mazda has spent time trying to give this crossover the visuals to go with the viscerals -- while retaining the practicals.
It's true, the third row is tight. But this is equally true for the others in the medium-large class, even if they claim to seat one more than the CX-9 does. If you really need an adult-friendly third row, you'll need something considerably larger. But if all you need is plenty of room for four to five people and six or seven in a pinch, then you ought to have a look -- for the same reason that you would have a look at a home with as many bedrooms as you need but not the luxury of several extra.
Other medium-large crossovers in the class do have a little more cargo room: for example, the Toyota Highlander (16 cubic feet behind the third row and 84.3 cubic feet all told) and Subaru Ascent (17.8 cubic feet behind the third row and 86.5 cubic feet in total). But it's not a big difference unless you really need that much space. In which case, the others may be better, at the price of being a lot less fun.
All trims get the new/larger 10.25-inch LCD display, seat heaters (up front) three-zone climate control and rain-sensing wipers, with the option to buy all-wheel drive without having to ascend to a more expensive trim.
On the other hand, if you want the excellent Bose 12-speaker premium audio rig, you have to ascend to the Touring or higher trim.
One area where the CX-9 comes up a little lacking is its attractive but more difficult to use infotainment system. Instead of a simple, one-step control knob to make station changes, you have to first scroll/push through menus to find the forward and backward arrows to change stations and then scroll/push to actually change the stations. It's not terrible once you get used to it.
But you do have to get used to it.
The Bottom Line
Once you've figured out how to change the radio station to your stations, you'll be ready for a drive like none other in this class.
Which makes it worth a little hassle changing the radio station.
Eric's latest book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.