SPONSOR SHOUTOUT: I used a selection of prams from our review sponsor Silver Cross. Their range of prams fit nicely in the boot with either the bassinet attachment or the seats. Varying amounts of shopping fit in the boot with the prams. Silver Cross Australia has a great website where you can view their range of prams and see which will suit your family! If you find BabyDrive helpful, please support us by supporting our sponsors!
The Mazda CX-9 is VERY HIGH on my family-friendly SUV recommendation list and it won BabyDrive's vote for best seven-seat SUV comparison earlier this year with Carsales.com.au. The CX-9 ticks almost all the boxes and is really hard to fault! I love having the Mazda CX-9 to review with my family as I enjoy the Mazda styling as well as its practicality. Let's see how I got on with the 2020 model in our BabyDrive testing!
I'm going to start off with my one gripe with the Mazda CX-9 and then we can move on to all the positives!! There are no third-row aircon vents. Which doesn't sound too bad until you have kids or passengers in the third-row on an Australian summer's day and then it takes a while to get the airflow back there, especially if you are loaded up with child seats or have been parked in the sun! One of the upsides of the second-row airconditioning is that you can control it from the front dashboard while driving.
Now onto the rest:
The first thing large families can relax about with the Mazda CX-9 has the five top tether anchor points. YIPEE!! Also, the amount of space in the rear two rows of seats allows for five large child seats to be installed which is fantastic and just makes life so simple.
There are ISOFix points in the two outer second-row seats also and these are within plastic guides in the 2020 model, making them much easier to connect to. Nice little improvement there!
The second-row seats are split 60:40, with the 40% being on the kerbside of the car which is great for passengers accessing the third-row. One of the most practical features of the CX-9 is the ability to access the third-row seats WITH three child seats installed in the second-row. You can do it from either side as long as you are using the ISOFix in the second-row seat rather than the seatbelt. I found it was better with a booster seat or slimmer child seat in the middle seat to allow the mechanism to come forward easily.
There is a press button on the side of the seat base to bring the seats forward and on the shoulder, which makes the mechanism easy to use.
The CX-9 also has really good legroom, so that with a rear-facing baby capsule installed in the second-row we could fit a 180cm driver in front AND a 180cm passenger in the third-row.
The doorways of the CX-9 are large and the doors open nice and wide making installing child seats and loading in and out of the car easier too.
Two big child seats fit nicely in the third-row seats too.
We also find visibility good from both rear rows of seats, as the windows are nice and large and you sit quite high so you can see out well, which helps with kids who get travel sickness.
Storage is really good throughout the CX-9, everything is of practical and usable size in all three rows of seats. Second-row passengers get handy double map pockets.
Third-row passengers get double cup holders on both sides.
Front passengers get good size cup holders and central console box too.
There were no inbuilt window shades in the second-from-bottom Touring model I tested but they are included on higher-spec versions.
Boot storage is also very good in the CX-9. When you are only using five seats, the boot is a huge space that would hold any combination of prams, dogs and shopping. From empty it would hold seventeen shopping bags, which is three less than a Nissan Pathfinder and two less than a Toyota Kluger or the same as the Mazda CX-8 and Hyundai Santa Fe. It holds one more bag than the Kia Sorento and two more than the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace that both hold fifteen bags. The Silver Cross Jet compact stroller fits in the boot with fourteen shopping bags.
The Silver Cross Coast pram fits in the boot of the Mazda CX-9 with a bassinet or seat and nine shopping bags.
When you are using all seven seats the boot space is still very usable as it would hold six shopping bags.
The Silver Cross Coast pram fits in the boot using the seat attachment with one shopping bag beside it.
When using seven seats you wouldn't want to put a dog in the boot of the Mazda CX-9 but when using only five seats you would be able to put your large dog in the boot space!
The media system is vastly improved in the 2020 Mazda CX-9 by the addition of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (you can also get it installed on older CX-9 models for about $400).
You navigate the system using a control dial in the central console.
The CX-9 has a great seat belt removal visual for both rear rows of seats.
The CX-9 has auto lock and unlock doors which made going to and from the car much easier with kids and all their stuff too!
For a seven-seater SUV, the Mazda CX-9 drives beautifully, it is smooth and quiet as a BabyDrive however I did find visibility is tricky from the second-row windows back, especially when loaded up with five child seats.
The Mazda CX-9 is a family SUV that will really comfortably hold five child seats without them being crammed in, few cars match its practicality and it is a fantastic BabyDrive!
The Mazda CX-9 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2016 and has six airbags as standard. I love the fact the CX-9 has curtain airbags that extend to the third-row seats too, which they don't in a number of competitor vehicles!