The 2013 Mazda CX-9 is a comfortable mid-size crossover with plenty of flexible seating for up to seven passengers and trunk space to accommodate luggage for family road trips. We recently had the opportunity to try out Mazda’s newest model during our spring break trip to California with my parents where plans included picking up our family of four at the airport and heading up to Tahoe for a week of skiing. This required not only needed a car spacious enough for six, but cargo space that could accommodate 3 checked bags, my parents’ two carry on sized bags, plus backpacks, and assorted other bags. It was a challenge that the CX-9 handled beautifully.
What We Liked
Flexible seating. The Mazda CX-9 features three rows of seats that can be lowered in a variety of configurations to suit your needs. With all seats up, the car comfortably seats 7, even with someone stuck between two car seats. Fold down the back most row and there’s more cargo room for luggage, items purchased during your latest Costco run, or the family dog. The Mazda CX-9 has split seats that were perfect for accommodating rented skis but still allowed passengers to sit on the other side.
Easy to handle. My dad commented on how smooth the car was. Indeed it was dangerously easy it was to surpass 70 on the highway especially as we drove into Tahoe and were distracted by gorgeous evergreens and snow. The CX-9 also handled curves like a champ that we tested on an off day from skiing when we drove to Lake Tahoe and over the Sierras to Reno on a windy road that traversed the mountains.
Dual climate zones. Nothing is worse than having hot cranky kids in the back who can’t seem to get any of the air that’s blasting out of the front cooling system, chilling the driver and passenger. Luckily with the CX-9, a rear seat climate system ensures that everyone is happy.
Comfortable seats and ample legroom. A car’s comfort factor is certain tested when it is subjected to a road trip where it takes over four hours to reach your destination. Kids, grandparents, driver, and passenger alike remained comfortable during the trip and had plenty of legroom.
Affordability despite luxury. The CX-9 we tested featured a leather interior and a nice technology package for just over $38,000.
Technology abounds in this affordable crossover. Here’s a run through of some of the features:
- Smart Start system allows you to lock and unlock the doors, open the lift gate and start the engine without taking the key out of your pocket or purse.
- Memory seat for 3 positions allows multiple drivers to save their favorite seat setting so they don’t have to move back and forth, raise, lower, tilt, or adjust lumbar support each time they get in the car. Most cars have 2 positions so the third is a bonus.
- Exceptionally easy-to-use navigation system with voice recognition
- Additional tech features include Bluetooth, Sirus, Pandora radio, powered USB ports, and rear backup camera.
Little Miss Techie (age 9) and Captain Computer (age 6) loved this car. At ages 9 and 6, they are beyond the age where short legs might make it difficult to climb in, necessitating a boost by a parent. Instead our two loved being high up and the great views from the windows. No one minded sitting in the way back third row.In fact, there was some squabbling about whose turn it was to sit in the way back because they both enjoyed the quiet that came from not sitting with the rest of the family towards the front.
Oliver is very sad to report that he was unable to accompany on our cross country spring break trip and didn’t get to test out the car to provide a dog’s perspective. I don’t believe Oliver, a 93 pound Yellow Labrador, would have any trouble jumping up into the car if given the opportunity. I do know he’d be rather squished and unhappy to ride in the way back if the third seat wasn’t put down but by lowering the third row when needed, Oliver would be in pup heaven riding that car with the wind down and tongue flapping in the wind.
I wish that the Mazda CX-9 had a larger moon roof for better visibility for those sitting in the back and for a more open feel. While the windows are a generous size, a vehicle with a dark interior can make one feel a little claustrophobic when in the third row.
Round cigarette lighter-type accessory sockets seem pretty useless to me and I’d prefer that a car like the CX-9 replace them with USB ports, eliminating the need for adaptors to convert them into useful USB ports. The CX-9 features an accessory socket in the center console and underneath the temperature controls but only one USB port. I’d much rather have 3 USB ports any day.
Perhaps this was only an issue with the car that I tested but I found that using the Smart Start to open the back lift gate was really inconsistent. Sometimes it worked perfectly and other times I found myself standing there wondering whether it would open before going over and manually opening it.
When connecting an iPod through the USB ports, we found that the car needed to read the iPod’s playlist every single time the car started. This caused a 5-10 minute delay in being able to listen to our own music which was just annoying when it kept happening. It didn’t matter how long the car was off. This happened each time the car was turned on.
As owners of a hybrid and a station wagon, both of which sit five people at most, I often find myself wishing I had a car with flexible seating options for the times when we have more passengers and the Mazda CX-9 provides an affordable choice especially considering the many features and little luxuries the car comes with for that price. The annoying delay of the car attempting to read the iPod each time the vehicle starts could be a deal breaker for me though since that’s not a very tech savvy feature which I hope is addressed in future models.
We drove the 2013 CX-9 Grand Touring in Meteor Gray that sells for $38,115.
Consider the CX-9 if you’re shopping for these vehicles:
Mazda provided me with the 2013 CX-9 with a full tank of gas to facilitate this review. No additional compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.