This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but about half the time I’m in the car, I drive around in complete silence. Seriously: No music, no podcast, nothing. If you have children under age eight or so, then you know exactly how blissful silence can be. And if you don’t have kids but have ever dined with, near or anywhere in the vicinity of children, then you can also appreciate some good peace and quiet. Of course, quiet is not really an option when my kids are in the car. They want to listen to KidzBop or the dozen or so other channels that play Top 40 hits. In most cars, it’s unbelievably annoying to switch between satellite stations. You have to save as many as you can to your "Favorites" and then lean over to push the "scan" button to get to the others. But not in the 2018 Mazda CX-9.
Dial It In
The CX-9’s infotainment system is operated via a handy, intuitive, round dial (Mazda calls this the "Commander" control) that sits in the center console next to the shifter knob. It’s easily accessible — you don’t have to stretch over or lean forward to use it, making it very comfortable for the driver. Our associate editor, Rob Nestora, recently wrote that he found the dial to be "tedious at best and a bit of a let down when you consider the quality of the rest of the Mazda crossover." I couldn’t disagree with him more! You can easily switch between hundreds of satellite channels, jump over to FM radio, quickly access your recently dialed calls and get instant access to navigation — all with this handy dial that doesn’t distract you from keeping your eyes on the road. I’m a big fan.
While I do wish the 2018 Mazda CX-9 was offered with Apple CarPlay, I’m happy to see this feature included in 2019 models. If you’re in the market for a premium 3-row SUV, it might benefit you to spend a little more to get the newer model for that feature alone. On the other hand, you might have better luck getting a discount on the 2018 model since it doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay.
So while I may not be able to drive around in silence with my kids in tow, at least I can switch from KidzBop to Sirius XM Hits 1 and occasionally to Hip-Hop Nation without blinking an eye … or awkwardly reaching for a scan button. I call that a win. Find a Mazda CX-9 for sale
Check out our 2018 Mazda CX-9 New Car Review