Prior to last month, the only time I’ve been in Los Angeles was for a quick conference, just one hotel shuttle away from John Wayne airport. When we started planning our California vacation, I knew I wanted to check out more than just the airport so flying into LAX and heading out for a mini-road trip was the perfect way to really experience the state (and the traffic it’s so well known for).
My husband is a huge Mazda fan so when we were given the opportunity to try out the Mazda CX-9 for our road trip we were excited to see what features Mazda would be loading into their top sized SUV. We planned to arrive in LA with a couple of friends and head out on highway towards Palm Springs with a truck full of luggage and two sets of golf clubs.
In most cars, this much luggage would be a problem, but thanks to the ability to fold the 3rd row down we had no issues loading up all the gear and getting on the road to beat rush hour traffic out of town.
As we took to the road, the Active Driving Display projected the navigation in a non-obtrusive location onto the windshield. The heads-up display is only visible to the driver and allows you to focus on the road by putting speed and navigation just below your line of sight. I’ve never seen a heads up display before and I was amazed by what a difference it made in my driving experience. There was no need to wonder what the next direction would be, because it was already there right where I could see it.
Once we arrived in Palm Springs and unloaded the car, I met up with a few more friends who would be joining us for the trip. With the ability to fold the third row seats back up, we could fit all 7 of us in the car, making it perfect for getting out into town for dinner. Even with a full car and tall men, no one was uncomfortable. With Drew over six feet tall, usually leg room is a huge issue, but the spacing between the seats meant that he and the other tall riders were all comfortable no matter who was sitting in front of them.
Spending a week driving all around town, I fully expected to need to fill up more than once. I was amazed to learn that the all wheel drive model has an averages 23 MPG, making it a very fuel efficient car for it’s size.
I’m used to driving a mid-sized SUV, so I was afraid that I might feel a bit overwhelmed by the size of the CX-9. Usually big cars are heavy and have large blind spots that make me uncomfortable. The back-up camera made maneuvering in and out of parking spots easy, and the weight of the car was not noticeable at all.
We even drove up the Palm Springs Tramway canyon and the get up and go on the steep roads was a nice surprise. Heading into the canyon, the road warns drivers that they may need to turn of their AC to get enough power to get up the road – completely a non-issue in CX-9. The turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine had no issue carving up the canyon road at all – which would be a must-have if I was to drive this car in Colorado.
Overall, I am very impressed with the performance of the Mazda CX-9 and feel it’s perfect for big groups or large families. With all the bells and whistles, the CX-9 price is way less than I expected, with an MSRP of $45,655 and the entry level version of this vehicle is priced at $31,520. For how luxurious the interior was, I expected the price to be substantially higher and feel that the bang for the buck is unrivaled in this class.
What type of features do you look for in a good road trip car? Leave a note in the comments!
Disclosure: I received the opportunity to borrow the Mazda CX-9 as a complimentary experience. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.