Sometimes, a seemingly small detail can make all the difference. I recently came across one in the 2019 Mazda CX-9 three-row SUV.
We’ve seen USB ports proliferate in vehicles as automakers hurry to offer charging solutions for the multitude of devices people bring in their cars. When these ports exist in the second row, they’re often near the floor at the rear of the front-center console. While such locations get the job done, I like Mazda’s decision to instead put them in the second-row fold-down center armrest of the CX-9. (Other Mazda models, like the CX-5 and Mazda6, also offer this setup.)
On Touring and higher trim levels, two additional USB charge ports in the armrest bring the CX-9’s USB port count to four. Flipping open the armrest’s lid reveals the two charging ports as well as a slim cubby for small items like a charging phone. Indentations in the trim provide a path for charging cables when the lid is down, and because the USB ports are much closer to outboard passengers than ports in the back of a console, you have more freedom of movement when holding a plugged-in device. Overall, it’s a more convenient setup – in most cases.
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The main downside of the design, of course, is that you lose easy access to the ports in certain instances, like when a child-safety seat is installed in the middle position or someone is sitting there. If either situation regularly occurs, the location of the CX-9’s USB ports might prove frustrating, but if that’s the exception rather than the rule, the armrest USB ports should please passengers.
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