Tested: 2021 Mazda CX-9 Kuro Edition – Mazda has a quartet of crossovers, with something to fit most needs. This week, we have a look at the largest, the three-row CX-9.
CX-9 was introduced for the 2007 model year with a second generation arriving in 2016. The 2021 CX-9 carries over mechanically, but gets a host of upgrades and a pair of new trim levels.
For the 2021 model year, the CX-9 comes in the following trim levels:
- GS ($41,793)
- GS-L ($45,673)
- GT ($50,923)
- Kuro ($52,223)
- Signature ($53,923)
- 100th anniversary ($55,423)
To celebrate its’ 100th year as a car company, Mazda is making 100th-anniversary edition packages available on the Mazda3, CX-5, CX-9 and the MX-5.
Using the company’s first passenger car, the R360, as inspiration, each will wear that car’s white and red colour scheme – Snowflake white exterior and Garnet red interior. Of course there will be appropriate badging, trim content and pricing to justify its limited availability and position atop the trim ladder.
The CX-9 test vehicle was the second of the new (2021) special edition trim levels – Kuro.
Also available on the CX-5 and Mazda6, Kuro editions come in Jet Black or Polymetal Grey Metallic. Mazda says Kuro loosely translates to ‘black’ like the Jet Black mica paint available in Canada. Our neighbours to the south don’t get that colour. The ‘Kuro’ there is instead the ‘Carbon’ edition available only in grey.
Impeccable interior on the Kuro edition of the 2021 CX-9 arms Mazda to go after more expensive nameplates
In either case, the interior is what stands out – garnet red leather seats with contrast stitching and black trim, red stitching on the steering wheel and center console.
The red is the same shade used on the 100th anniversary models. The Kuro starts with the GT, equipped with second row captain’s chairs. It also gets 20-inch black alloy wheels, gloss black grill and various trim pieces. The red interior is stunning, especially when combined with Mazda’s impeccable interior design and execution.
This level of fit, finish and an extensive level of standard equipment, allows the Kuro edition to take direct aim at competitors wearing more exclusive and expensive nameplates.
The CX-9 is produced in Japan but not sold there as its width and engine size place it in a category which brings a hefty road tax. That size makes it a perfect fit for North America which, of course, is why it has been so successful here. The CX-9 slots right into a crowded mid-size crossover segment where it goes up against competition from virtually every major motor vehicle manufacturer.
But, the CX-9 stands apart in one key area – driving dynamics, the way it talks to you through the suspension and steering systems.
This attention to detail beneath the skin has become a Mazda hallmark. Mazda sedans and crossovers all share genes with the MX-5, née Miata. You expect a light and nimble two-seater to exhibit excellent driving dynamics.
Mazda engineers make sure you feel the same way driving everything wearing their badge. They exhibit OCD levels of time and effort on minute issues with throttle, brakes, steering and suspension settings. The result, in this largest Mazda, is sharper response to inputs and greater alacrity than any competitor this size and shape.
Where some competitors still offer six-cylinder engines, Mazda is among the majority who chose instead to rely on turbocharged fours. This one displaces 2.5 litres and produces a hefty 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque with premium fuel. Save a few cents at the pump and output drops only slightly to 227 horsepower and 310 lb. ft. with regular. You won’t know the difference.
Three-row crossovers have replaced minivans as the family workhorses.
Added height and all-wheel-drive systems are expected and appreciated. The Mazda CX-9 lies at the smaller end of the three-row segment but offers agility others can only dream of. The third row is cramped but easily accessed by small and/or agile people. There is 407 litres of cargo space behind the third row, 1,082 litres behind the second and 2,041 litres when both are folded down.
If you are in the market for a mid-size, three-row crossover and enjoy the art of driving, I highly recommend you try the CX-9.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Mazda CX-9 Kuro Edition
As tested: $52,423 including freight
Mazda’s Smart City brake support, advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, lane keep assist and departure warning,
Navigation, 23-cm touchscreen infotainment display with Mazda Connect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, 12-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio
Colour heads up display, 360-degree camera, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, LED headlights with automatic high beams, power hatch with hands-free access, windshield wiper de-icer system, red leather upholstery, third row USB outlets, advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control with stop and go, wireless charger, lane keep assist and departure warning, automatic climate control, power driver seat with memory
Polymetal grey metallic paint, $200
Turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 250 horsepower, 320 lb.-ft. of torque with premium fuel; 227 horsepower and 310 lb,. ft. with regular fuel. six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.6 / 9.1
Length, 5,065 mm; wheelbase, 2,930 mm; weight, 1,994 kg
Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Honda Passport, Hyundai Pallisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Telluride, Toyota Highlander, VW Touareg