For many people, the Mazda brand is associated with compact vehicles. Like the MX-5 (a.k.a., Miata). Or the Mazda3. While the MX-5 is certainly key in terms of maintaining the deep love that some people have for the brand and the Mazda3 helps underpin the brand’s sales, in point of fact, Mazda, while maintaining its cars, is becoming something of a crossover brand.
That is, through November 2020, the largest selling vehicle in the lineup is the CX-5, at 128,466. Second? The CX-30 at 33,656 units. Then a car, the Mazda3 at 30,353.
But then you say to yourself that this is supposed to be about the CX-9. Conveniently enough, that had sales through November of 24,766, or fourth.
The 2021 Mazda CX-9. (Images: Mazda)
Mazda has seven vehicles in its lineup. And four of them are crossovers.
So if you associate Mazda with compact cars, it is time to recalibrate.
What It Is
The CX-9 is a three-row vehicle that competes with he likes of the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. Which means that it is in a competitive set with some well-executed vehicles.
Yet for the month of November sold 18,848 Explorers and Toyota sold 19,962 Highlanders. That is for the month. The 24,766 number for the CX-9 is for 11 months.
Which might make you think that the CX-9 must not be particularly competitive against the likes of those two.
And if you think that, you would be wrong.
If you are looking for a midsize crossover that is has premium touches throughout, you’ve got to consider the CX-9. The Explorer, for example, seems more energetic, like something that would be the ride of choice for someone who has to drive players to hockey practice. The Highlander has gone more trucky.
But the CX-9, especially in the Signature trim, the top of the lineup, is absolutely sumptuous, with Nappa leather seats that are comfortable and supportive yet appear to be like something you’d find in a well-appointed family room, Santos Rosewood interior trim, and patterned aluminum trim. The second row in the Signature consists of captain’s chairs and there is a center console back there, too. A very nice touch.
Comfort in the second row.
The overall sense of the cabin is that this is something that is curated.
There is technology, as well, such as a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, navi, top-notch Bose audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more.
Then safety features including lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise with stop-and-go, and more.
The power comes from a 2.5-liter, turbocharged engine that produces 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular gasoline or 250 hp and 310 lb-ft on premium. One surprise, however, is that the transmission is a six-speed automatic. There is standard all-wheel drive on the Signature, and it rides on 20-inch alloy wheels.
The base MSRP for the CX-9 Signature is $46,605.
This is a fine vehicle that is certainly well worth that price.
And it continues to perplex me that there aren’t more people who are taking advantage of this crossover.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
While you are probably familiar with origami, the classic art of paper folding that results in things like birds that flap their wings when you pull the tail, or plot devices in one of the Blade Runner films.
From the point of view of structural engineering and assembly, electric vehicles are a whole lot simpler than those with internal combustion engines, which probably goes a long way to explain why there are so many startups showing EVs.