cx9mall2.jpgThe Car:
Mazda CX -9

First Impressions: This car is a “he”. An attractive and athletic dude. He’s well endowed but totally unpretentious, smart but not a geek. He’s clearly going to be popular and you can’t help but want to hang with him since he’s cooler than so many other cars on your choice list. He’s still keeping it real though. Did I mention he’s very attractive?

Price Point:  $29,400 – $34,655

Mileage: Just average at 18/24 with FWD, 16/22 with AWD

Best for Families: With 2 or fewer kids. Three kids is a possibility but third row access may be tricky if you have two in infant/toddler car seats in the second row. Okay as carpool vehicle but full time with more than 3 kids could get sticky. Suits an active lifestyle and families with pets.

Mom or Dad: Either parent would feel comfortable in this vehicle – it appeals to both genders, making it a good choice for one car families.

cx9console.jpgThe Interior:
We tested a well outfitted Grand Touring version of the CX-9 with leather seating, oversized tires and plenty of bells and whistles. The interior was comfortable and sleek and the amenities rivaled most high-end luxury vehicles. First and second row seating had plenty of adult legroom. Third row seating was spacious for children and acceptable for an average size adult. Everything felt solid and well made and functioned well – from the seat adjustments to the dashboard dials to the door locks. The doors close with a very reassuring ka-chunk sound, also reminiscent also of luxury vehicles. There were just the right number of drink holders, in just the right places and storage for cell phones, iPod etc. With the third seat engaged we were able to store a full sized Maxi Cosi Foray stroller which broke down into two pieces.

From the Driver’s Seat: The Grand Touring CX-9 was extremely athletic and nimble. We had no trouble accelerating and passing other cars on busy Southern California freeways. The field of vision was wide but the rear window styling does create blind spots. This issue was mitigated by the blind spot monitoring system. The test model also came equipped with a back up cam. Living on a street full of young children, this is something that is especially reassuring to have. It also made parallel parking that much easier. Driving the CX-9 is definitely fun. It inspires a feeling of confidence and control and readiness to take on whatever the day dishes out… with grace.

cx9loaded2.jpgAlong for the Ride:
The sport suspension on the CX-9 that we tested was a little bit bumpy, but please consider that I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy and therefore able to acutely feel every nickel sized pebble that my car tires roll over. You will feel some amount of road on any sport suspension vehicle, and this is part of the appeal in many ways. For my kids, the ride was preferable to cushier vehicles – which they claim make them feel carsick in the back seat. From the passenger side and backseat there was good visibility. Backseat passengers appreciated having their own controls for A/C – there are three climate zone so everyone stays comfortable. Seating was a little tight for the middle passenger with two carseats installed in the second row.

Family Friendly Facts

• Seats: Seven

• Cabin Storage Space: Ample and well thought out gadget storage in the front seat areas, additional storage in seat backs, door sides and dashboard. Small hidden compartment for tools under rear storage area.

• Cupholders: Enough for all passengers to have at least one hot/frosty beverage and a few to drink their lattes and frappucinos double fisted.

• Latch seats & positions: 2 latch equipped seating positions – in the second row behind driver and passenger seats. Note: The latch equipped rear seat was able to fold forward for third row access even with a toddler seat latched in place.

• Rear/Trunk Storage: With the third row engaged there is room for a full sized stroller in the rear, but little else. Still this is better than many models tested that cannot even fit a stroller with the third row engaged. With the third row folded down there is ample room for a full sized stroller, and at least a week’s worth of groceries. With all the seats folded, you could probably help your little brother move to his new apartment.

• Entertainment Options: Comes standard with AM/FM and CD changer. Upgrade options include Bose Surround Sound, Sirius Satellite Radio (with subscription), Bluetooth, DVD Entertainment System. • Other Family Friendly Features: Audio, Cruise Control and Bluetooth device controls mounted on the steering wheel, available backup camera, available DVD Entertainment and Navigation systems, Three Zone Climate controls, Remote Liftgate and Keyless Entry systems all make your daily grind a little smoother.

 • Safety Features: Stability Control and Anti Roll over Control, Anti Lock Brakes, Front seat airbags with passenger side weight monitors, Side Curtain Airbags for all three rows, and Tire Pressure monitoring, are standard safety features for the CX-9. Back up Cam and Blind Spot Monitoring add confidence and safety on the Grand Touring Model. Voice Activated Navigation System keeps you on track.

Overall Impressions

Pleasantly Surprised: The Cx-9 impressed me. I’d been driving an Acura MDX and felt in no way luxury deprived in the Cx-9. In fact my husband did not drive the MDX once the whole week we tested the Cx-9. It had all the right stuff for a busy family with 2-3 kids. Getting in and out of the car at busy school drop offs and pick-ups was very easy thanks to the remote liftgate and ample access to the second and third row seating with wide opening doors and seats that slide forward enough to access the third row, even when there is a carseat installed. We really appreciated that this vehicle had usable storage space even when the third row was engaged.

Might Cause a Meltdown: Deciding who gets to drive. Trying to fit three carseats across the second row. Cost of fuel for long road trips. Lack of cargo space during trips to the mall/grocery store with a stroller and the third row in use.  

Links & Specifications:

Official Mazda CX-9 Site

CX-9 on Edmunds

CX-9 on Motherproof

CX-9 on MSN

CX-9 Ranking on USNews

Click on the Extended Post for several additional pictures including pictures of how a stroller fits into the CX-9 & Third Row Access with/without a toddler carseat installed in the second row.


Here is a Maxi Cosi (full size) stroller before going in to the CX-9


Here is the Maxi Cosi Foray Stroller folded, in the rear of the CX-9 with the third row seating engaged. It just fits!


When the third row seat is folded down on the CX-9 there is ample room for a stroller and a load of groceries.

cx93rowaccess.jpg Access to the third row seating without a carseat in the second row latch position.


Access to 3rd row with a latched booster seat installed in the 2nd row latch position.


Remote liftgate activated upon returning to the car, when leaving the mall!