NewComers: 2007 Mazda CX-9
The Uncut Version: Stay Tuned for Another Breakout Performance
Love 'em or hate 'em, crossovers remain popular because they break the old-school SUV molds. And Mazda is determined to keep this trend flowing with its latest follow-up to last year's turbocharged CX-7, the CX-9-the longer, wider, and stronger big brother with similar performance, styling, and attitude.
At the heart of this new crossover is the 3.5-liter V-6 used in the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX; however, Mazda has tweaked the intake manifold and reduced the backpressure to produce a more responsive feel on the low end. Additionally, a different software program for the engine and a Mazda-only butter-smooth Aisin six-speed automatic transmission give this powertrain a unique character, more in line with Mazda's typical performance traits. Total output for the Mazda-tuned 3.5-liter V-6 is 263 horsepower at 6250 rpm and 240 pound-feet at 4500 rpm.
Still, the magic is in the Mazda transmission, especially when compared with the Ford/GM-partnered six-speed automatic in the Edge. In Drive mode, the six-speed is as seamless as any we've piloted (that wasn't German), and some testers called it "CVT-like." For more invigorated driving, you can notch the shifter into Manual mode, then choose and hold whatever gear you like.
CX-9s will come in three configurations (Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring) and offer the standard front drive for base models and AWD for $1200. Both versions do a superior job of keeping the body composed and stable, even when enthusiastically pushed through the local mountain roads. The AWD system, as expected, is quick enough to keep the back end balanced through anything except a J-hook maneuver.
Unlike the CX-7 rear suspension, which is Mazda3-based, the CX-9's is more Mazda6-derived (actually more Mazdaspeed6-derived) and capable of carrying more weight, keeping the bigger vehicle steady through twists and turns.
Mazda is taking a shot at the import luxury crowd with a near-luxury midsize crossover entry. Optional creature comforts include a thumping Bose audio system, rear-seat DVD entertainment, power liftgate, navigation screen, backup camera, and keyless start. This could be the breakout vehicle Mazda's been waiting for.
|2007 Mazda CX-9|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD or AWD, 7-pass, 2-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.5L/263-hp/240-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT||4300-4500 lb|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||199.8 x 76.2 x 68.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.9 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/ HWY ECON||16-18/22-24 mpg|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Currently|