By Jennifer Newman on January 30, 2013
For 2013, the three-row Mazda CX-9's exterior has been updated. It's now surprisingly sleek, especially for a crossover. While the CX-9 can seat seven, it's not in a comfortable fashion. The third row has little legroom unless the second-row passengers slide their seat forward.
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the convertible seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.
Here's how the 2013 CX-9 did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: Although it has seating for seven, the CX-9 has the minimum two sets of lower Latch anchors. They're found in the second row's outboard seats and sit about an inch into the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet. The second row's three tether anchors are at the base of the seatbacks.
While the CX-9's third row doesn't have any lower Latch anchors, which isn't unusual, it also doesn't have any tether anchors. No forward-facing convertibles may be installed in the third row. Many automakers include at least one third-row tether anchor, which allows for the installation of a forward-facing convertible seat.
Booster seat: Our high-back booster seat fit well in both the second and third rows. In the second row, the outboard seats are wide and easily cradle the booster. However, the seat belt buckles are on floppy bases, which can be difficult for young kids to grasp. The buckles also are on floppy bases in the third row. Third-row legroom is laughable. There's enough of it for a younger child in a booster, but an 8-year-old is going to be cramped unless those in the second row slide their seats forward significantly.
Convertible seat: We slid the second row seats as far back as possible. Doing this and reclining the second row's seatback made it a cinch to install both the forward- and rear-facing convertibles in the CX-9. The seat's rigid Latch connectors easily found the CX-9's anchors. We didn't have to move the front passenger seat forward to fit the rear-facing convertible behind it.
Infant-safety seat: There was plenty of room for the rear-facing infant seat in the second row. However, we had a difficult time connecting the seat's hooklike connector to the inboard Latch anchor because the seat bolsters were in the way.
Third-row access: The 60/40-split second row allows third-row access from either side. Just fold the seatback forward and then slide it up. The rear wheel wells eat into the resulting walkway, making it somewhat narrow.
How many car seats fit in third row? Two, but only if they're boosters.
Editor's note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats — to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear. Email Jennifer