Road Trip Wish List: A Mazda CX-9

This post is sponsored content from BlogHer and Mazda CX-9.

Last weekend when we drove from Los Angeles to Big Bear Mountain for our first ski/snowboarding adventure, I found myself wishing we had a much bigger car so the kids didn’t even have to sit next to each other. And looking at the specs of the Mazda CX-9, I realize that as we start planning more road trips in our near future, a car that fits our growing family might be the difference between vacation hell and vacation bliss.

The vehicle size is priority number one. We still drive a boxy compact crossover with bucket seats in the back, allowing for only two kids. There’s (barely) enough cargo room for regular life, but limited space for all the stuff we want to bring on out-of-town trips: bikes (x4), food, clothing, camping gear for the mountains, boogie boards (x4) for the beach and, of course, the kitchen sink. We need more room, or we’ll start looking like the Griswolds on the way to Wally World.

With the CX-9’s 7-passenger interior and fold-down seats, we could even put each boy in his own row so they can’t keep trying to maim each other because they’re bored on a long ride. Or we could even (gasp!) bring along a friend for each brother.

Being well prepared for a car trip makes for a more enjoyable getaway, but this time I was more focused on borrowing the correct gear for the kids’ first snowboard lesson than prepping for the three-hour drive. We navigated up the mountain by using my phone’s map and trying to follow another family in their car. We would have been much better off with a dashboard navigation system, such as the CX-9’s TomTom, to help us with the most efficient route to our destination. After all, there are several ways to get through LA traffic and up to the mountains, and at one point my husband and I both said, “Where ARE we?!”

(Answer: Victorville, CA. The last big city before the mountains. Who knew?)

TomTom would have answered that question before we even asked it. Plus, the pleasant voice guidance would be better than my confused, too-late directions as I helped my husband figure out which way to go (and vice versa).

We love to leave on road trips after dinner and arrive the night before all the fun starts. That way, the boys can sleep on the ride. We avoid the fighting and the whining and the eleventy millionth, “Are we there yet?” coming from the back seat. But those times when we must travel while they are awake, we load up a bag or two of activities to keep them busy. Now that at least one of them can read, books are a natural addition, and I try to get new titles from the library for our older son to enjoy. The 5-year-old is happy to play with his handheld gaming system or, in a pinch, my phone.

Once upon a time I used to load kids’ music and audiobooks onto my iPod or CDs to play in the car, but then my husband let the kids play in the front seat while he was washing it one day. You can probably guess the rest of this story. The boys put pennies into the CD player and in every power outlet in the vehicle, so none of those features work anymore. The Mazda CX-9 comes with a standard USB audio input port, which would help me rekindle the kids’ love of audiobooks. It also offers available HD Radio, Pandora Internet radio connectivity and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. And now that the boys are listening to better music (farewell, Old MacDonald!), we could all rock out to our tunes of choice. Of course, my kids dream of “having a TV in the car,” and if I were a cooler mom, we would have at least gotten a portable DVD player by now. But with the CX-9’s optional Rear-Seat Entertainment System, we could have them watch their favorite videos on a 9″ LCD screen.

The price of the Mazda CX-9 makes me want to go get a new car right now. Today. Hold my calls. We paid $20,000 for our boxy crossover in 2005 because we financed it. At the time, my husband and I had one baby and one large dog. Now we have two gangly boys and a commitment to paying cash for our next car. At around $30,000 MSRP, the CX-9 seems like a reasonable upgrade to match the upgraded size of our family, which to be honest is growing as the boys get bigger.

We managed to make it up “to the snow,” as we say in Los Angeles, with no visible injuries on either of the boys. They took ski and snowboarding lessons, went sledding, and made snowmen and had snowball fights for the first time. They had a blast, and my husband and I enjoyed watching them and staying dry on the sidelines. We headed back down to sea level with a car full of sweaty gear and tired humans, wishing our car had a dashboard camera to better capture the beautiful sunset.

Overall, it was a great road trip. With a bit more room and more entertainment options, both of which are offered by the Mazda CX-9, there would have been a lot less whining, threatening and bargaining. And the kids would have been much quieter, too.