This model Mazda CX-9 is getting close to the end of its lifecycle, however, it is still one of the best seven-seater SUVs on the market for families. It is perfect if you need a seven-seat SUV that you can actually use all seven seats on a daily basis, without driving a big people mover. It is one of the few that do the job well and it should definitely be near the top of your test drive list.
In the BabyDrive garage this week is the 2022 Mazda CX-9 GT SP AWD model that has been updated to have real leather burgundy seats and black wheels to make it look and feel like a top-of-the-range luxury model even though it isn't. The Mazda CX-9 is one of the nicest all-round seven-seater SUVs to drive and with these updates, the interior feels great to be in too. All Mazdas seem to drive really nicely and the CX-9 is no exception, so let's find out how practical it is as a BabyDrive…
When it comes to child seats, the Mazda CX-9 has five top tether anchorages and fits five full-size Infasecure child seats in all five rear seats, which is pretty exciting for those who need it!
In the second row there are ISOFix points in the two outer seats and I could fit three Infasecure child seats across that second row of seats nicely; I fitted two rear-facing Infasecure Attain More child seats using the ISOFix points in the outer seats and a forward-facing Infasecure Versatile Folding Booster seat in the central seat.
In the third-row seats, there are no ISOFix points but I could fit two full-size Infasecure child seats back there forward-facing using the top tether anchorages (I installed the Infasecure Achieve More and the Aspire More in the third row. of the 2022 Mazda CX-9).
The second-row seats of the Mazda CX-9 are split 60:40, and unlike many cars the 40% is on the kerb side of the car, which means passengers can access the third-row safely.
The Mazda CX-9 has THE BEST third-row access mechanism. You can access the third-row seats WITH three child seats installed in the second row, from either side of the car, as long as the child seat on that side is installed using ISOFix rather than the seatbelt in the second-row chair you are moving forward.
I found it works best when you have 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.
The driver's seat will also come forward quite far, which gives second-row central seat passengers a way to step through if you have rear-facing child seats in the two outer two seats.
The rear doors of the mid-priced GT SP AWD model I tested have built-in window blinds, which are great for keeping passengers shielded from the sun while driving and means no more towels or blankets trapped in the window!
The Mazda CX-9 has very good legroom, so with a rear-facing Infasecure Attain More installed in the second row, we could fit a 180cm driver in the front and a 180cm passenger or forward-facing child seat in the third row.
The doors of the Mazda CX-9 open nice and wide, which makes 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.
The upgraded and updated media system in the 2022 Mazda CX-9 is not a touch screen. and it can only be operated using the rotary dial down in the central console.
It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easily accessing your phone's communication, navigation and listening apps…
…and a good reversing camera with easily muted parking sensors.
The Mazda CX-9 has a wireless phone charging pad, in front of the gear lever.
Charging is good throughout the 2022 Mazda CX-9 GT, with a 12V socket in the front passenger footwell and USBs in the central console box…
…as well as one in the boot.
There are USB sockets for the second row in a tray in the fold down in the central seat back…
…as well as two more USBs in the third row for passengers.
Storage in the 2022 Mazda CX-9 is good throughout all three rows of seats. In the third row, passengers get double cup holders on both sides that will fit a refillable water bottle or reusable or disposable coffee cup.
In the second row, there are two cup holders and a storage tray in a fold-down armrest in the central seat back and the door bins are a good size and will hold a refillable water bottle and an iPad.
There are double map pockets on the back of both front seats that will hold and conceal an iPad or books.
In the front, there is a lined sunglasses case in the ceiling, which is fabulous as most modern cars are doing away with this, leaving drivers nowhere for their glasses to go.
If you have four or five young children storage in the boot can be a little tricky in the Mazda CX-9. When you are using all seven seats we found only a compact or single pram, with the wheel removed, will fit in the boot. So if you have young twins or two still at pram age it can be a problem.
Our solution was to use a compact stroller, so we had room beside it for other items.
When you are using all seven seats, the boot of the Mazda CX-9 will hold seven shopping bags, that is two more than the Kia Sorento that holds five, one fewer bag than the Hyundai Palisade and Nissan Pathfinder which will both hold eight and three less than the Kia Carnival the will hold ten shopping bags. The Mazda CX-8 is a bit smaller with the third row up, holding six bags in the boot.
When you are only using five seats the boot is huge. All sizes of single, tandem or twin strollers fit. From empty it has enough spare room for seventeen shopping bags,vwhich is comparable to the Kia Sorento which also holds seventeen, the Nissan Pathfinder which holds twenty, the Hyundai Palisade which holds twenty-one and the Kia Carnival that holds twenty-six shopping bags. The Mazda CX-8 also holds 17 bags in the boot.
There are air vents in the back of the central console box for the second-row passengers and controls there for the climate and heated seats too. You can also control the second-row air-conditioning from the front dashboard while driving which is helpful.
There are no third-row aircon vents in the Mazda CX-9, which for me is its only negative. It is definitely a consideration with the Australian climate in the summer, when you have been parked in the sun and are loaded up with kids and child seats it can take a while to cool down the third row.
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 fantastic! It will really comfortably hold five Infasecure child seats without them feeling squashed or 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. The Mazda CX-9 has a great seatbelt removal visual so you know if anyone in the back has removed their belt!