Exploring Hill Country in the 2016 Mazda CX-9

My family of 7 took the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature out for a review test drive for a week and really enjoyed it.  We all fit comfortably for a week “away from it all”, even with our assortment of car seats, booster seats, and belongings.

Exploring Hill Country in the 2016 Mazda CX-9

While the rest of the country went back to school, my family took a bit of a road trip to Hill Country.  We traveled Texas, hitting some major highlights in New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, and lots of little towns on the way and in between.  We love being tourists when everyone else is at work and school.  Homeschooling rocks!

Exploring Hill Country in the 2016 Mazda CX-9 with seating for 7 with third row

*Please note that while we did get to review this vehicle at no charge, everything else on this trip was paid for completely out of pocket.

We used all three rows of the vehicle to accommodate our large family.  Above is a pic before I added in our carseats and boosters.  The leather seats were so nice!  That center seat in the second row had a center console that could come down with drink holders and other storage, as well.  The second row has a 60/40 split for ease of getting to the third row.  The third row seats 2, and it has a 50/50 split for putting it down as well.

Of course, if your family didn’t need the third row, it can fold down completely to reveal a ton of extra storage capacity, as you can see here:

Exploring Hill Country in the 2016 Mazda CX-9 with third row put down

While we hit the road, we loved listening to the music on the SiriusXM radio.  My husband kept changing it to heavy metal or electronic dance music, so I kept having to change it back to KidsBop or Radio Disney for the kids.  A few times, we listened to some audio books from my phone through Bluetooth, which was pretty cool.  The sound system was AMAZING.  It is incredible that this comes with a Bose® Centerpoint® 2.0 Surround Sound System with AudioPilot® and 12 speakers.

Exploring Hill Country in the 2016 Mazda CX-9 leather wrapped steering wheel

This was my husband’s favorite review vehicle yet, which is saying a lot.  He LOVED how zippy it felt like when we drove, quickly shifting gears and going from stopped to a fast highway boogy in no time.  We also loved the gas mileage!  It gets roughly 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, so it made this road trip easy peasy.  We didn’t have to constantly fill up, which is HUGE when it comes to toting our big family around.

We had SUCH a good time being gone for a week.  We’ve never had such a long vacation, and we really took this time to hang out with a few family members and a few friends, and to explore some cities that we don’t normally stop in.  We got to be real TOURISTS!  I absolutely loved it.  My kids are STILL talking about it and are begging to go back.

First of all, we stopped over at Magnolia Market in Waco.  While we did not get a cupcake while we were there, we did get some yummy lunch from the on-site food trucks.  The kids ran around in the play area outside.  My 4 year old spent over half of our stay there taking a potty break.  We know how to really live up a vacation, let me tell you. 😉

Family Trip to Magnolia in Waco, TX

Who knew it was still going to be a million degrees outside in late September!  My husband got a little dramatic with how hot he felt like he was after being outside for an hour.  You might notice how he chose 60 degrees for HIS side of the vehicle.  I chose a more reasonable 74 degrees.  Dude, you’ve lived in Texas for over 30 years – get used to the heat! 😉

2016 Mazda CX-9 Temperature Controls

Other fun stops on our trip included the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch and the Natural Bridge Caverns.  We had never done the Ranch before, and I was really pleasantly surprised!  My kids were freaked out by the ostriches trying to peck at them to get food, so we basically spent the whole time with the windows up!

Exploring the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in the Mazda CX-9 Signature

Something I loved about it there was that you could go through as many times as you wanted.  We went through it twice, to give my kids each a chance to be in the second row to have the opportunity to feed the animals the bags of pellets that we bought.  We went through once, stopped at their cafe to eat lunch (which was VERY reasonable with good sized portions), and then reconfigured our car seat set up and went through it again.  It made for a long morning, but was so worth it.

Natural Bridge Caverns Tour

The caverns were fun, but would have been a lot better without a whiny one year old!  It had been about 7 years since our last visit, and I was really excited to see that they have a maze, gem mining, and other cool activities.  We spent a lot of time there when we were done with the actual cavern tour.

Austin Duck Adventures

When we were in Austin, we hit up the Austin Duck Adventures tour.  This was a big highlight on our trip.  The driver let ALL of my big 4 kids steer the vehicle when we got to the water part of the tour!  They were in heaven.  The driver totally took to Charlie and even let him pass out stickers to all the kids before we left, and answered his countless questions.  The dude was hilarious.  This was SO WORTH IT!  It may have been my favorite part of our trip.

Roppolos Pizza Austin Texas

For lunch, we walked over to Roppolo’s Pizza on 6th Street.  They offered free dessert to folks coming from the Duck tour, so my kids had to go.  My children, freebie hunters!

Another day, we went to San Antonio.  I LOVED visiting with my friend Lori.  She and I have kids of similar ages, and we used to work together closely with a Moms Club chapter she started in another city we’ve both since moved away from. 🙂

San Antonio Texas DoSeum Childrens Museum

After we were done there, we headed out to the DoSeum.  It’s a children’s museum and they have free evenings.  We just happened to be going there on one of those nights – score!  It was a lot of fun for ALL of my kids – from age 1 up to age 11.

We also checked out the Glass-Bottom Boat Tour in San Marcos.  It wasn’t our favorite outing, but if we were able to get a Groupon on it next time, I’d consider going again.  It was definitely educational, and they had a neat little museum and small aquarium as well that we were able to spend some time in.  There’s a lot of history there, and it was cool to even see some artifacts from that region.

Plenty of room for groceries in the Mazda CX-9 Signature

To be honest, we spent a TON of time at our little cabin at Hill Country Cottage and RV Resort.  I had to make a few grocery store runs, but luckily there was plenty of room for the week’s groceries for our family in the back.  I’m not going to lie, I made excuses to get out and grocery shop at HEB.  Swoon.  I love HEB.

I actually did these shopping trips while my big kids were with my husband swimming or playing board games at the resort.  It was such a relaxing place to kick back and enjoy family time.  The resort has 2 indoor pools and an outdoor pool, a playground, a gem mining area, a bouncy jumping pad, scheduled evening events, and more.  We got a great deal on Groupon for this place.  I wish we could have stayed a whole month!  The price wasn’t too much more to do that versus just staying the week.  A girl can dream.

More on the Mazda CX-9

It’s also important to stop for a minute to talk to you about the Windshield-projected Active Driving Display.  So I’m a total dork and didn’t adjust the seat to make me tall enough to even see the whole projection.  My husband drove it a bit and went on and on about the driving display, and I had to ask him what in the world he was talking about.  Once I figured out it was there, I adjusted the seat properly the next time I drove the CX-9 and was wowed, too!  It was neat being able to see the speed, cruise control information, and even the lane departure warning information front and center.

I actually looked this up, and the settings can be changed to adjust if it is projected higher or lower.  Adjusting the seat worked just as well, though, so it was no biggie.

Driving the Mazda CX-9 was smooth and reliable

Other features that impressed us in the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature: genuine rosewood interior trim, LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing windshield wipers (YESSSS!), and the rear view camera.

Our vacation to Hill Country was a HUGE success and we felt so safe in the Mazda CX-9!  It cruised around like a dream and is loaded with safety and convenience features that were great for our family.  If you’re looking for an alternative to the dreaded mini-van, take a look at this option and give it a test drive for sure.

About Jenn L

Jenn lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and 5 children. The family likes to eat healthy and try new recipes. Jenn homeschools all of the kids. She is heavily involved with local bloggers and is slightly addicted to social media.