Not Every Family Car Fits All Families; Will This One Fit Ours?
Well, that depends.
When you hear that a car has three rows, you make certain assumptions. As the mother of 4 (3 still in car seats) I was thrilled to hear that we’d get the opportunity to review a 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. I assumed it would easily accommodate three car seats and four full sized people, but the outcome wasn’t what I expected. While this car is beautiful and Mazda’s dedication to premium design and materials made me feel great, it may be better for families with older kids and only the occasional need for a third row.
We currently are a 3-adult household (Grandpa lives with us) that drives a Toyota Sienna minivan, a Chevrolet Malibu (not really used for the kids often), and a Dodge Durango 7 passenger SUV that I strongly dislike (the thing is roughly the size of a tank). I had high hopes for the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring because it offered a more compact size. Utilizing the Mazda in every day life with four kids provided a challenge though.
Let me explain. I have a 13 year old boy who has a few inches on me height-wise, a 6-year-old girl who rides in a booster seat, a 5-year-old-girl who is still in a 5-point harness tethered car seat, and a 9-month-old-baby boy in a standard rear facing infant bucket seat with a click-tethered snap-in base.
School Pick Up Line Was “An Experience”
When I picture the school pick up line I start to sweat a little. The pressure to quickly get your kids in and out of the car so that you aren’t THAT parent who holds up the line is very real.
With older kids, getting into the 2017 Mazda CX-9’s seven seats can be easy. The middle row seats fold forward to allow access to the third row, which seats two. The center row bench seats three: two are normal sized seats and the center seat is fairly skinny and houses a center cup console when you don’t need it.
This was a challenge with tethered car seats in the center row since they need to be behind the driver’s and passenger’s seat so they are both anchored and tethered. Once those seats are strapped in, the center-row tilting seats didn’t leave enough space for my 6-year-old to access the third row. Our option to put my 5-year-old in the third row, which has one tether on the back of the seat, but we could not locate the anchors in the seat bight (where the seat bottom cushions meet the seat back). She rode in a regular booster seat for the week in the third row and we left the 2nd row side seat flipped up for access.
The middle seat was too narrow for the booster seat to fit between the other car seats, so we put the 5-year-old’s 5 point harness seat in the third row and left the second row flipped forward for access.
What ‘Grown Up’ Passengers Will Love About the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring
While the car seat situation was a challenge, there were some things that I really did like about the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. First off, we are no strangers to Mazdas. My husband traded his beloved Mazda 3 hatchback in for the minivan when we were expecting our 4th child. He felt that the CX-9 offered the same sporty driving experience as the smaller Mazda 3. The handling on this car is superb.
And the trunk space- hallelujah! Our Dodge has limited trunk space when that 3rd row is in use. We’re talking a few paper grocery bags one layer deep at best. Even with the third row up in the Mazda I still could have packed the car for a trip.
And with that third row down? So. much. room! Anyone who has older kids, hauls around sports gear and occasionally has friends over, this is the family car for you. With the third row and one of the 2nd row seats down I found myself wishing this car had existed in my carefree youth. We used to camp in the mountains and I could have easily fit a few friends, all our camping gear, and a kayak!
Other things we loved included the extra touches in the car.
- The front seat area was well thought out with plenty of chargers, cup holders and a great display
- Heads up display on the windshield was new to me but I came to love it
- BOSE audio system (with 12 speakers) gave me great quality music to rock out to
- Driver’s seat has power seat memory. My husband and I often switch cars. A convenient push of a button readjusted the seat from his 5’11” settings to my 5’2″ ones
- Lumbar support and adjustability of the driver’s seat ensured a comfortable driving experience
- Kid-friendly touch built in sun shades in the second row are perfect for a family car!
Quick Facts About the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring
- Mid Size SUV, Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring MSRP price is $41,710 (all wheel drive adds about $4,000)
- The price of the car is all-inclusive, so no extras drive up the price. You can see what is included here
- 22MPG city/28 MPG highway (we found that it was very close to 28 mpg during our test drive)
- Seating for 7 passengers, and despite the car seat challenges, the seats are comfy
- Safety features on this model include Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Assist System and Rearview Camera
- Technology: The Mazda CX-9 really shines here. There is integration with numerous internet music programs, the console is a mini “command center,” bluetooth comes in loud and clear and was simple to set up, this model includes the Mazda CONNECT infotainment system and there are USB’s and charging ports galore for every device you (and your kids) have.
What You Need to Know About the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring
- Looking for a family car? Consider the Mazda CX-9 if you have older kids or only two children. Have young kids and more than 2 anchored/tethered car seats? Always check the logistics of car seats at the dealership before considering a purchase
- Gas mileage and trunk space were far superior to other mid size SUVs I’ve driven
- Advertised as a “family-friendly SUV” the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring falls short for families with multiple small kids or more than two kids in anchored car seats. Even with the car seat frustrations, though, it provided a fantastic ride for a family car
Disclosure: The Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring was provided by Mazda for this review; the opinions expressed are all my own.