My family of five (four humans, one large furry child) usually has two cars: one zippy commuter car (hubby's) and one larger vehicle (AKA my Messy Mom Mobile). When considering any new larger vehicle purchases, we look at a few main aspects: space, comfort, safety, fuel economy, technology, and price.
I was so excited to have the opportunity to test drive the 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring Seven Passenger Crossover SUV. When my hubby's beloved Audi got totalled at the beginning of this year, I was actually told wonderful things about the Mazdas and started to check out the CX-9. Alas, we went with another commuter car, but it was still on my mind for the future.
Space and comfort
With two young kids and a large dog, our family requires a decent amount of interior space. We also like to take frequent trips to the coast, the mountain, and all over the Northwest, and we need a spacious interior not only for our things, but merely for everyone's comfort on long drives.
This is the classic seven-seater configuration: driver seat, passenger seat, middle row with three seat belts, and third row with two seats. The middle row of the Mazda CX-9 is fairly roomy. Even with the middle tray (with 2 cup holders) in the upright position, there is a decent amount of space in the seat itself between the (often fighting over "you're in my space! Get out of my space!") Bliss Boy and Bliss Girl. They also noted that they have quite a bit more legroom compared to our current Honda Pilot.
The third row comfortably seats two adults -- not just kids. That's another nice difference between our current SUV and the Mazda CX-9. We actually had six adults in the car once and everyone reported being comfortable with a decent amount of leg room.
The photo below shows just one of the seats in the third row up, however even with the entire third row up, there's still enough room in the trunk for lots of groceries, sports equipment, and luggage.
The third row folds down and up fairly easily.
Perfect road trip vehicle
The Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring came at the perfect time: we were able to take it on a 3-hour (each way) road trip to the Tri-Cities, Washington for my husband's 40th birthday wine tasting weekend (I'll be writing a series on Washington Wine Country soon. Stay tuned!). We drove up with two of our friends, and had plenty of room for all of our luggage heading up and our luggage + cases of wine on the way back.
As far as drivability goes, it was really comfortable driving the car for extended periods of time. I'm just shy of 5-feet-tall, and my husband is about 5-foot-8, and we were able to adjust the seats easily to suit both of our frames. There is the option of also saving your seat settings so that you just push one button to automatically move the driver's seat into your driving position.
The one thing that I did have to get used to while driving was how long the vehicle was. The Mazda CX-9 has a rather large turning radius and parallel parking this beautiful beast takes a little getting used to.
During our road trip, we had the opportunity to test out the navigation system and the USB audio inputs. We had a few issues with the navigation right off the bat: it wasn't able to understand any of our voice commands -- and we tried a few times speaking loudly, clearly, and slowly. So we gave up on the voice-activation and focused on using the touch screen to navigate. That worked better, but it was still clunky and slow to respond to our typing.
The USB audio input in the front seat middle console is nice to have. It didn't work with one of our friend's iPhones, but worked with ours. The sound system in the Mazda CX-9 is great; it was pretty easy to navigate between the radio, Sirius, and our iPhones.
There is also Bluetooth technology in the 2013 Mazda CX-9, which is always a nice feature to have. As a busy mom entrepreneur living and working in a state that has hands-free driving laws, and as someone who frequently takes business and personal calls in the car, Bluetooth is essential.
The 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring has an advanced keyless entry & start system, which means you don't actually need a key to open the doors nor start the car; you just need the key sensor thing (I am sure it has an official name) with you near the car. Honestly, the keyless entry & start took me a day to get used to. I kept having this fear of leaving the key sensor inside the car & having the car autolock with the sensor inside -- or I kept forgetting where I put it. Keyless entry or not, it still doesn't completely make up for my ability to lose my keys regularly! :)
One of my favorite features on the 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD is the blind spot monitoring system. The vehicle is rather large with blind spots, so there's a little light that appears on either rear view mirror anytime there is another car in your blind spot. If you happen to turn on your blinker and/or start to move into the other lane when a vehicle is there, the car actually beeps at you. I love this feature and wish all family cars had this!
The Mazda CX-9 reportedly gets approximately 22 miles per gallon (MPG) on the highway and 16 MPG in the city. I actually found it to be much more fuel efficient than that, and was surprised how far we were able to drive before having to fuel up.
The exact configuration we drove would cost $39,605. It's not the least expensive crossover for sure, but compared to other similar vehicles on the market, I think it's worth it. I would recommend adding the option for a DVD system for the second and third rows at this price, just because it is a nice option for long road trips with kids.
In the end, I would highly recommend checking out the 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD Crossover for any family. I personally LOVED this vehicle. Loved it. I'd buy it tomorrow if I could. I joked around with the guys about keeping the car when they came to take the car away -- but I was partly serious! It's a smooth, comfortable ride with lots of space, safety & technology features for busy families.
Mazda provided me with a 2013 CX-9 for this review. No other compensation was provided and, as always, all opinions are my own.