Mazda CX-9's Nav System a Mixed Blessing

Starting the third leg of our trip, we headed from Mechanicsburg, Pa., through Gettysburg and down into Washington, D.C., before arriving in Burlington, N.C. The navigation system was crucial for this part of our trip, given that we were driving in an area we’d never driven in before. How’d the CX-9’s nav system perform?

It was a little Jekyll and Hyde. On the positive side, it was a touch-screen, which we at always prefer. On the downside, it was apparently in the employ of the oil companies, since it kept sending us in circles (some of which we were able to avoid, some of which we were not) instead of making a left turn. Let me repeat that: The CX-9’s system twice asked us to make a circle — including one that was nearly a mile long — rather than force us to make a left turn. Now, I’ve been driving for nearly 30 years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at those left turns.

Also on the downside was the system’s fuzzy screen. The Ford Flex and Dodge Journey both had large, very sharp screens that were easy to read, if not always easy to use. The one in the CX-9 was noticeably blurrier, and its habit of showing the next three turns on the right side in ascending order was downright confusing.

Finally, using the CX-9 to find our D.C. hotel turned into a bit of a fiasco: It sent us to a much swankier hotel, where it took us a moment to find someone who could speak English to help us out. Once we found the correct address (thank you, BlackBerry internet access), the nav system informed us it was “too close” to provide directions. Lucky for us, my innate sense of direction kicked in and I was able to find the hotel.

So far, the Flex is definitely leading in the nav system race, but we’ll see how the Honda Pilot holds up during the last leg later this week.

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