In the BabyDrive household this week, we are getting about in the 2023 Mazda CX-8. In all our previous years' testing, we have found the CX-8 to be a great seven-seat SUV for families, and one that should definitely be high on your list. This 2023 model has had a few updates that will make family use even more enjoyable, so let's take a look as we put it through our BabyDrive testing…
This 2023 model has been updated to have a larger media screen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all models.
The Mazda CX-8 remains one of the best seven-seat SUVs for families large and small when it comes to child seats, the Mazda CX-8 has five top tether anchorages and fits five full-size Infasecure child seats in all five rear seats.
In the second row, there are ISOFix points in the two outer seats…
…and top tether anchorages on the back of all three. They are quite far down the backrests so you often need an extension strap for rear-facing child seats especially.
Three Infasecure child seats fit really comfortably across the second row of seats; I fitted a rear-facing Infasecure Attain More and Infasecure Adapt More Infant Capsule in the outer seats and the Infasecure Momentum More forward-facing in the central seat.
In the third-row seats, there are no ISOFix points but top tether anchorages on the back of both seats.
Two full-size Infasecure child seats fit really nicely forward-facing in the third row using seatbelts and top tether anchorages. I installed the Infasecure Achieve More and the Aspire More in the third row of the 2023 Mazda CX-8. Yes that's five Infasecure child seats all in the one car!
The second-row seats of the Mazda CX-8 are split 60:40, and unlike many cars, the 40% section is on the kerb side of the car, which means passengers can access the third row more safely than in many seven-seaters. The 60:40 split also applies to the sliding mechanism which allows you can distribute legroom as you need to.
The Mazda CX-8 has a good third-row access mechanism. You can bring the second-row seats forward slightly with three child seats installed in the back of the CX-8 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. The gap for passengers to climb through to the third row is not big enough for an adult to get through however kids could easily do it.
I found it works best when you have a booster seat in the middle seat to allow the mechanism to come forward easily or if you only need four child seats then leave one of the second-row seats empty.
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 Mazda CX-8 open really nice and wide making it easier to get passengers and child seats in and out of the back.
The rear doors of the CX-8 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!
Visibility is 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 2023 Mazda CX-8 is not a touch screen and it can only be operated using the rotary dial down in the central console.
This updated 2023 CX-8 has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in all models. This makes it easy to access your phone for communication, navigation and listening to apps while driving.
The 2023 Mazda CX-8 has great reversing camera images that are clear and bright.
You can easily mute the parking sensors with a button by the driver's right knee.
The 2023 Mazda CX-8 has a wireless phone charging pad, in front of the gear lever.
There are charging sockets in all three rows of seats in the 2023 Mazda CX-8. A USB socket on each side in the third row…
…as well as two USB sockets in the phone tray in the fold-down armrest in the second-row central seat.
In the front, there are USB-C sockets in the central console box and a 12V socket in the front passenger footwell.
In the boot, there is another 12V socket on the right-hand side.
For families needing to use all three rows of seats, storage in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 is a little tight. When you are using all seven seats, we found the Jiffle Wagon 6-in-1 pram with a seat will fit in the boot when in full fold.
The Jiffle Wagon 6-in-1 pram cart will fit in the boot when in full fold with three bags of shopping.
A compact stroller fits well in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 too if you are using all three rows of seats.
When you are using all seven seats, the boot of the Mazda CX-8 will hold six shopping bags, which is two more than the Kia Sorento which 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-9 is a bit larger with the third row up, holding seven bags in the boot.
When you are only using five seats the boot of the Mazda CX-8 is huge and will hold 17 shopping bags. All sizes of single, tandem or double prams and strollers fit. From empty it has enough room for seventeen shopping bags, which 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-9 also holds 17 bags in the boot.
The Jiffle Wagon versatile 6-in-1 pram with its seat fits nicely in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 when using the first two rows of seats, with lots of room for eight bags of shopping. The Jiffle wagon holds up to 60kg of cargo inside the wagon too so you have heaps of extra storage and you don't have to unload it to put it into the boot.
The Jiffle Wagon 6-in-1 pram with its bassinet fits nicely in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 when using the first two rows of seats, with lots of room for five bags of shopping.
The Jiffle Wagon 6-in-1 pram with its cart fits nicely in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 when using the first two rows of seats, with lots of room for eleven bags of shopping.
…fits nicely in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 when using the first two rows of seats, with lots of room for eleven bags of shopping.
If your family has a fur baby, then you will comfortably transport a large dog in the boot of the Mazda CX-8 when using the first two rows of seats.
Storage for passengers in the 2023 Mazda CX-8 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 or a mobile phone fits too.
In the second row, there are two cup holders that will hold a coffee cup and a storage tray and charging sockets for rear passenger phones in a fold-down armrest in the central seat back.
The rear door bins are a good size and will hold a refillable water bottle and an iPad fit in them too.
There are map pockets on the back of both front seats that will hold and conceal an iPad.
Front passengers in the Mazda CX-8 have good storage too, 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.
There are two cup holders in the central console that will hold a reusable or disposable coffee cup.
The central console box in the CX-8 is a good size as is the glove box that will hold an iPad and wallet with the manual.
The front door bins will hold a refillable water bottle and an iPad fits too.
There are air vents in the back of the central console box for the second-row passengers but none in the third row for the third-row passengers.
There are climate controls in the front central console panel where parents can also control the second-row climate which is helpful.
The Mazda CX-8 I tested has press-button open and lock front doors, which made going to and from the car much easier when carrying my child and all their things too!
I really enjoy driving the Mazda CX-8, it drives beautifully and with a smaller footprint than a people mover, it makes it easy as an everyday car for school drop offs etc.
With five child seats in the back visibility is a little bit tricky from the second-row windows back so I definitely relied on the rearview camera when parking and manoeuvring.
For a seven-seater SUV, the Mazda CX-8 is a great choice for families big and small. 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-8 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2018 and has six airbags as standard. The Mazda CX-8 has a great seatbelt removal visual so you know if anyone in the back has removed their belt!