OK, I now have a new favorite feature that doesn't center around heated seats or steering wheels. It's the Bluetooth streaming audio that I found in the Mazda CX-9. I don't keep music on my phone, so even though I use the Bluetooth for phone conversations, I've not tested the streaming audio before. Luckily, my sister and I were in a car together for 8 hours over the Thanksgiving holiday ... and she does keep music on her phone.
Of course, we were stuck in traffic while we tried to pair her phone, and to my annoyance, we discovered that you have to be completely still to do the setup. But the upside of holiday traffic: You are often stopped for long periods of time. The pairing process was quick and simple, and in less than a minute we were streaming her winter playlist through the car. Sound quality was great, and her music is always awesome.
While I love this feature, there were a couple things I'd like to see tweaked. The first being: If I have a passenger in the car, she should be able to complete the pairing process while in motion. I mean, if the seat can detect a passenger so as to activate the airbag, why can't this same detection process work for dealing with navigation and pairing? I was continually annoyed by what I couldn't do while driving, and though I understand the need to keep the driver's attention on the road, I think prohibiting the driver from pairing a phone or setting navigation while in motion can actually be more distracting. More than once, I found myself coming to a complete stop in slowed traffic just so I could complete a function. I focused more on the screen and less on traffic as I was trying to figure out how to get around the motion detector. I have to imagine I'm not alone.
The second thing I'd tweak: The fact that the streaming music wasn't showing up on the infotainment screen. I don't know if there was some setting we missed or if we paired incompletely, but my sister could only control the music through her phone. And the name and artist only appeared on her phone.
What I loved about this feature:
- The music didn't blip when she got a text message (which was often)
- She could text and perform other functions on her phone while streaming the audio
- The pairing process was easy
- The sound quality was great
- After leaving the car then coming back, the music picked up exactly where it left off
- No connecting wires!
I think this is definitely the direction we are heading with external audio devices, and I like it. Right now you can find this feature mostly on luxury cars or uplevel models. Which is a bit disappointing. But I have a feeling it'll trickle down to your less expensive models sooner rather than later. And I can't wait!