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For the Anti-Minivan Crowd – How the Mazda CX-9 Works for Families

I’ve certainly heard that there are those people in the world who hate minivans. When their family unit starts to expand, they get a bit hot under the collar at the idea of driving one. Anti-minivaners then might start looking to the SUV category to grab some space and sleek looks. Here’s a look at how the Mazda CX-9 worked for our family.

Need a new family car? The Mazda CX-9 looks great & has lots of features great for busy families! Car review | family vehicles | cars for families

My take on how the Mazda CX-9 works for families | © Stuffed Suitcase

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD [Mazda Specs]

Midsize, three-row crossover SUV with room for seven passengers
Four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Signature

Interior of the beautiful 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | © Stuffed Suitcase

Interior of the beautiful 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | © Stuffed Suitcase


Well, I admit, it’s sexy. Much sexier than my 11-year-old minivan. Especially the Signature edition which features the super soft nappa leather-trimmed seats. The exterior is also sharp and sporty, something I think is a signature look for Mazda. The 20″ wheels give the car and animalistic, charging look, which helps keep us feeling young I think!

Gorgeous nappa leather and rosewood trim on Signature Mazda CX-9 | © Stuffed Suitcase

Gorgeous nappa leather and rosewood trim on Signature Mazda CX-9 | © Stuffed Suitcase

This is one car that mom and dad will be happy to drive, and even my kids felt like pampered celebs when they rode with me. Whether I was heading to the grocery store or the soccer field, I didn’t feel like a mom while driving the CX-9.

Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | © Stuffed Suitcase

Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD | © Stuffed Suitcase

CX-9 Features that Work for a Busy Mom

Running family errands means a lot of little trips taken in our car. I’m also often not alone, so need to multitask with talking to my kids or adjusting the radio. As cars have become more and more techy, sometimes driving them takes more and more work. I just want to get in a car and drive. Not have to learn a foreign language to work the systems!

Active Driving (Heads-Up Display): My favorite feature by far on the CX-9 was the Active Driving Heads-Up Display. If you haven’t tried this feature in a car, I can promise you that you’ll fall in love. An image display of your speed, speed limit, cruise settings, and navigation directions gets projected onto the windshield, making the image appear on the road in front of you. No more glancing down to monitor your speed or cruise.

Gorgeous nappa leather and rosewood trim on Signature Mazda CX-9 | © Stuffed Suitcase

Adaptive Driving / Heads-Up Display on CX-9 | © Stuffed Suitcase

Steering & Controls: The leather-wrapped steering wheel also has easy to use touch controls that help you control volumes, channels, and bluetooth phone calls. If you do want to use the infotainment system while driving, the selection dial panel near the gear shift lets you control with one hand. Once I got used to the dial and buttons, I was easily able to change channels and inputs on the system. The Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring and Signature also come with driver’s seat memory buttons, great for programming for two drivers.

Driver seat memory programing is great for families of dual drivers | © Stuffed Suitcase

Mazda Radar Cruise Control (Adaptive Cruise Control): My first time trying this feature was when I drove the Lexus RX 450h. It’s a feature I love! Mazda uses a sensor to monitor the vehicle ahead of you and automatically adjusts your speed while cruising to maintain a safe following distance. A great feature for family road trips and everyday highway driving!

Steering wheel controls for audio and cruise | © Stuffed Suitcase

Steering wheel controls for audio and cruise | © Stuffed Suitcase

Backseat Comfort: A final feature of the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature that is great for busy families is the well-equipped back row. It features an easy to reach climate control panel, great for transporting kids or other adults. Plus, the center seat features a drop-down console which has cup holder and USB charging ports! In the higher trims (Grand Touring and Signature) you’ll also have sunshades built in on the second-row windows.

How About Space?

Anti-minivan’ers are going to have to realize that as much as I loved driving the CX-9, it won’t match up well against my minivan in regards to space. That should be pretty obvious. However, I thought I’d give some comparison numbers.

CX-9 Cargo Space

14.4 cu. ft. rear seats up
38.2 cu. ft. 3rd row folded
71.2 cu. ft. 2nd and 3rd rows folded

Honda Odyssey Cargo Space

38.4 cu ft Behind 3rd-Row
93.1 cu ft Behind 2nd-Row
148.5 cu ft Behind 1st-Row

With all three-rows in use, the storage space is very limited. Just enough for about five backpacks, if you had carpool duty for the day.

Cargo space in 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature | © Stuffed Suitcase

Cargo space in 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature | © Stuffed Suitcase

If you don’t need the third-row, your storage options expand quite a bit. As you can see from my comparison above, once you drop the third row seats, you’ll have the same storage space in a standard minivan trunk.

Cargo space in 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature – 50/50 3rd row seating | © Stuffed Suitcase

You still have the seats folding into the floor, which means your storage space doesn’t have a ton of height, but it still can fit luggage quite nicely. Easily enough room for a family road trip for sure!

Cargo space in 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature | © Stuffed Suitcase

Family Favorite Safety Features

Of course safety is a big concern for families, so here are the safety features that come with the Mazda Cx-9. [Full descriptions and explanations found here]

  • Advanced dual front air bags with seat belt-use, passenger-weight sensors
  • Front side-impact air bags and side-impact air curtains with rollover protection
  • 3-point seat belts for all seating positions
  • Front seat-belt pretensioners with force limiters
  • Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brake force Distribution & Brake Assist
  • Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control System and Trailer Stability Assist
  • Rearview camera
  • Roll Stability Control
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Distance Recognition Support System
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Rear backup sensors
  • Smart City Brake Support
  • Smart Brake Support
  • Side-impact door beams
  • Engine-immobilizer anti-theft system
  • Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • LATCH 2nd-row seat child safety seat anchors & upper tether anchors
  • Child-safety rear door locks

Driving the Mazda CX-9 Signature was certainly a great experience. The Signature trim is their top level, and has a MSRP of $44,315. Many of the features on the Signature trim were on par with the Lexus RX 450h (not a hybrid though), and comes in about ten grand less.

I think for the anti-minivan crowd, this could be a great option for a family vehicle. From looks to features, you’ll enjoy driving and looking good while toting the family around.

Thank you to DriveShop and Mazda for the one week test drive of the CX-9. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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