Last weekend, we took my oldest daughter who is 15 for some driving practice. In the next few months she’ll be eligible for her permit and frankly that has us a little nervous. Only having driven one other time with her dad, this time most of the family was in the car and I specifically chose the back seat to shout my nervous energy. I was easy on her, really don’t worry, we were driving my husband’s old 1994 clunker and we hoped that it would be a good fit for our daughter when she indeed gets her license this fall. But, in fact I hated the way it felt so bumpy and the steering column was loose so it looked like she was having a tough time with it. Not to mention safety features, other than the seatbelt I couldn’t pinpoint anything remotely comparable to the newer cars. I suddenly panicked.
All that brings me around to the car reviews we do. Before my husband I decide on our empty nest vehicle, we really need to take a look at cars that will be fitting for our daughter as well as our other two children when they become of age to drive! They may not get the newest model, but something made in the last 2-3 years and that will keep them safe on the road both offensively and defensively is becoming the priority over our own personal needs.
Safety Features: 4 out of 5 stars was given overall to the 2014 Mazda CX 9 as far as safety ratings go with 3 out of 5 on frontal crash risk for injury for driver and passenger and 5 out of 5 for front and rear risk on a side crash. Doesn’t make me feel comfortable but you do have to always factor this in when buying a car and getting out on the road. There are 3rd row side air curtains with roll-over protection, but considering she wouldn’t be driving a car-full of people for some time, I’m most concerned with the first row. On the plus side, rear backup sensors are a must for garages, parking lots, and driveways I know they’ve always helped me, a new driver will be thankful. Also the blind-spot monitoring on the side mirrors would be very useful in town and around high school traffic areas.
Space: This car can hold 7 very comfortably and perfect for a family of five like ours. Does a new driver need a car with this much space, I think only if we’re sharing it, not if we’ll buy one specifically for her. Second row has a 60/40 split fold down and the third row has 50/50 making plenty of extra space for dance bags, backpacks. The middle row slides with ease, no climbing over the seats or fast-reacting trigger seats. I won’t argue there isn’t ways to make space in the Grand Touring, I started falling in love with it on day 2 of 7! I like that it fits well in our garage, it’s not a boat like the station wagon my husband drove in college and it’s not wide like a mom minivan, it’s sleek and angular, so my daughter even said it’s not a traditional mom car she’d be embarrassed in. There is ample leg room in all three rows which is impressive and comfortable on weekly carpools, but again for a teenager we may be getting ahead of ourselves.
Technology: Heated seats, she already loves them, and I told her all about the driver’s power lumbar as well. As a dancer, classes have her sore and achey and boy would that heat on the back and the tush feel nice after a work-out. I feel good that there is a USB port in the center console so that her phone can be fully charged for contact at any time of the day (and god forbid if an accident would occur). Bluetooth hands-free audio and phone make mom and dad very happy with ease of controls right at her fingertips (literally on the steering wheel)!
Now generally my husband and I can deal with the display screens and dimming them is usually an option. For my new driver I’d be curious if it would be a distraction. The kids have often teased that they should be able to put a DVD in it and watch a movie from the back seat and yes sometimes I wish it had a full retractable screen to pull down over it and use when you need it (this car has a 5.8″ color display, some other cars we’ve tested have had 8″!). None of our current cars are equipped with a display so she won’t be learning to drive with one I guess it will just be something we’ll test as we move forward. Something interesting to me was the dashboard looked really…old school. No digital displays with multicolored functions or leaves depicting Eco-friendly features. It looked standard run of the mill, and I kinda liked it simple.
Power: Ideally, I want the car to go no faster than 25 mph with a bumper of protection surrounding my precious child at all times. In reality, the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring has a 3.7 liter V6 engine with a standard 6-speed shift-able automatic transmission creating 273 horsepower. I’m pretty sure that’s good…and fast. Too fast, too much power for my first-born. My husband is raising his hand real high stating we’ll drive her around in this car forever, she doesn’t need to learn but we can enjoy it!
Price: 19 miles to the gallon combined with 17 city will have my girl at the gas station more than she’ll want to be. Her potential job to pay for the car in our small town will add to the stop and go and less than stellar gas mileage, maybe not the smartest choice. The standard equipment price of the car is $35,035 for the FWD and it’s not economically feasible when we have to consider college in two years as well.
The right car for our family, yes. The right car for the first-time driver at the ripe age of 16, probably not. That’s okay, we still enjoyed it and our daughter will not be zoom-zooming her way onto the high school campus anytime soon without mom or dad escorting her in a CX-9. My husband says, “promise?”
Our car was on loan for a week, all opinions are ours.