The Mazda CX-9 is one of my favourite family seven-seater SUVs. It won BabyDrive's vote in the 2020 best seven-seat SUV comparison I did with Carsales.com.au. If you need a seven-seat SUV that you can actually use all seven seats on a daily basis it is one of the few that do the job well and it should definitely be on your shopping list.
I love the way the Mazdas as a whole drive, they feel cohesive and everything feels nice to the touch and there are no itch points where I wish something was better. This 2021 model is no exception, so let's see how it gets on as a BabyDrive!
Let's start with all the good stuff! The Mazda CX-9 has five top tether anchorages! WOOP WOOP! So two full-size child seats fit nicely in the third-row seats.
There are ISOFix points in the two outer second-row seats and three child seats fit well across the second row.
The second-row seats of the Mazda CX-9 are split 60:40, the 40% is on the kerbside of the car which is great for passengers accessing the third-row safely. The Mazda CX-9 has the king of third-row access mechanisms. You can access the third-row seats WITH three child seats installed in the second row.
You can do it from either side of the car as long as you have installed the child seats using 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. The step-through space is very good and there is plenty of room for an adult or tall teenager to climb through.
If you have rear-facing child seats in the two outer seats and you want a person to sit between them, they can step through from the front. The driver's seats will come forward quite far, giving a nice sized step-through to the second-row central seat.
The rear doors of the mid-priced GT model tested have built-in window blinds which are great for keeping passengers shielded from the sun while driving along. So no more trapping towels or blankets in the car door or window and having them flapping around while you are driving to keep the kids covered from the sun!
The Mazda CX-9 also has very good legroom, we found with a rear-facing baby capsule installed in the second row we could fit a 180cm driver in front AND a 180cm passenger or forward-facing child seat in the third row.
The doorways of the CX-9 are large and the doors open nice and wide making installing child seats, loading kids in and out of their child seats and climbing in and out of the car easier 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.
There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto…
…as well as manual paddle shifters behind the steering wheel that are new for the 2021 models.
The 2021 Mazda CX-9 GT also has the addition of a new wireless phone charging pad, in front of the gear lever.
Charging is good throughout the 2021 Mazda CX-9 GT, with a 12V socket in the front passenger footwell and USBs in the central console…
…there are two more USBs in the second and third rows for passengers.
Storage in the Mazda CX-9 is good throughout all three rows of seats. In all three rows are two cup holders that are a practical size to hold re-usable and disposable coffee cups…
…and large refillable water bottles fit in them too. The second-row cup holders are in a fold-down armrest that also has a storage tray with USB ports for phone storage and charging.
Front and second-row door bins will all hold a large refillable water bottle and there is a lined sunglasses case in the ceiling too.
Storage in the boot is where the Mazda CX-9 can make life a little tricky if you have a family with five young children. When you are using all seven seats we found only a compact or single stroller will fit in the boot. So if you have young twins or two still at pram age it can be a problem.
We found that during our time with the Mazda CX-9 we used a compact stroller so we had space in the boot for our older daughter's scooter too.
When you are using all seven seats, the boot of the Mazda CX-9 will hold six shopping bags, that is one more than the Kia Sorento which holds five, two fewer bags than the 2021 Hyundai Palisade and Nissan Pathfinder which will both hold eight and four less than the 2021 Kia Carnival the will hold ten shopping bags.
When you are only using five seats the boot is huge. All sizes of single or twin strollers fit or a tandem pram or it will hold seventeen shopping bags. Which is comparable to the 2021 Kia Sorento that also holds seventeen, the Nissan Pathfinder which holds twenty, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade which holds twenty-one and the Kia Carnival which holds twenty-six shopping bags.
There are no third-row aircon vents in the Mazda CX-9 which for me is its one downfall. It is definitely a consideration with the Australian climate especially in the summer, especially if you are loaded up with child seats or have been parked in the sun it can take a while to cool down in the very back. You can however control the second-row air-conditioning from the front dashboard while driving which is helpful.
The Mazda CX-9 GT I tested has auto lock and unlock doors which made going to and from the car much easier when carrying my baby and all their things too!
I really enjoy driving the Mazda CX-9, it drives beautifully, it is smooth and quiet and everything feels intuitive to touch and use as a BabyDrive. Visibility is a little bit tricky from the second-row windows back when loaded up with five child seats so I definitely relied on the rearview camera when manoeuvring.
For a seven-seater SUV, 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 such as the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe!