Saturday morning arrived and with it came an ideal winter day in Florida. A light breeze was wafting thru the open window and temperatures promised to hit the 75 degree mark. It was going to be the perfect day for a family outing. A new 2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring was sitting in the driveway beckoning us toward the open road, but where to go?

Mazda CX9

It had been a few years since we last visited Busch Gardens in Tampa and so it was settled, we would spend the day at the nearby amusement park. It’s about a 50 mile trip making it ideal for going there and back in a single day, plus it would give us ample opportunity to put the Mazda CX-9 thru it’s paces. Crossovers are my favored class of vehicle so I’m always interested in seeing just how they stack up against each other. Being an active mom who spends a decent amount of time on the road, I’m most interested in the “livability” of a family vehicle. 

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Up first on our excursion checklist? The GPS. Would it get us there safely and quickly? Could it anticipate the heavy Tampa traffic? Yes and yes. Rolling along the highway the GPS adjusted it’s volume so as not to compete with the radio and it even has the option of changing the volume based on speed.

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The CX-9 Grand Touring also boasts three of my favorite modern safety features: Blind Spot Monitoring Systems, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a rear view backup camera. They’re little amenities that go a long way towards the “livability” factor of a vehicle. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the one-touch windows were rolled up in favor of the Three-Zone Automatic Climate Control. My daughter liked being able to control her own climate in the back seat and even direct all vents toward her.  We made it to Busch Gardens just in time for a leisurely lunch on the train to escape the midday heat.  

We spent the next seven hours taking in shows, soaking up the sunshine and watching Maddilyn interact with Sesame Street characters. Before we knew it, the sun had set and people began to exit the park in droves. Our weary legs carried us back to the car as we toted along the souvenirs and an absurd abundance of park maps in addition to one sleeping child. 

Mazda CX9-2

With the smart sensing rear lift gate we were able to deposit our day bags in the back without waking the sleeping child. While my husband strapped her into the carseat, I plugged our cell phones into the three available 12-volt power outlets and filled the many (6) cup holders with our oversized souvenir cups. There was a spot for everything in the Mazda CX-9 thanks to storage amenities such as:

  • Front center console storage with dual cup holders
  • 2nd-row center armrest with storage and cup holders
  • Rear door bottle holders
  • Cargo area under-floor storage
  • Overhead sunglasses holder
  • and even a grocery storage net. 
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Mazda CX9-3

Once we settled into the car, overall weariness set in. Amusement parks are a blast until they’re over and suddenly the long hours of fresh air and sunshine leave you feeling exhausted. That’s when you start to appreciate all of the little features included with the Grand Touring Technology Package. The power sliding moonroof let in fresh night air without waking a sleeping child. Reclining back into the heated seat I let myself relax as it soothed my aching back – traversing an amusement park isn’t easy! My husband streamed his custom playlist across the 10 speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System and soon the city lights faded into the distance. It had been a beautiful Saturday. 

A one week loan of the Mazda CX-9 was provided by Drive STI in conjunction with Mazda for the purposes of this article. 

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