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Mazda CX-9 – When Room for Five is Not Enough

Mazda’s Five-Passenger CX-7 Gets Seven-Passenger Sibling, CX-9
Mazda has floundered with its MPV never being quite right for a minivan and the Tribute a decent, but undermarketed, SUV offering. The brand may be in a better position for 2007MY, with two new crossover SUV products that seem to be just what customers want these days. The Tribute goes on a break, scheduled to return as a 2008 model year vehicle.
Mazda’s CX-7 spring 2006 launch provides a glimpse of what Mazda’s SUV lineup will look like over the next year, but the CX-7 isn’t the only new thing for 2007MY. Mazda is adding a second, larger SUV product for its 2007 model year lineup.
The CX-9 is being prepped quickly, with an introduction at the 2006 New York auto show in April and a sales launch in early 2007. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were on hand for the introduction. Mazda is pitching its two new SUVs as offering an alternative for those looking for SUV attributes, like more space and all-weather capability, but also insistent on keeping a zoom-zoom sporting driver. As the launch release says, the CX-9 intends to “blend sporty driving spirit with seven-passenger SUV practicality.”
In discussions with Mazda North American Operations design management, the CX-9 is the attitudinal successor to the old Mazda 929 and Milenia four-door sedans. As those products withered away over the years, Mazda wondered what types of vehicles they really wanted to buy. Well, the CX-7 and CX-9 are the result of that navel gazing, and are much better choices today than me-too sedans.


According to Mazda, the CX-9 is on its own platform. It is its own product, and most certainly not a long version of the CX-7. And the CX-7 is certainly not a shorter version of the CX-9. In any case, the two do share styling cues, with the larger CX-9 taking on a more grown-up and sophisticated look, with its longer proportions and wider stance. Mazda is building both CX-7 and CX-9 in Japan and making a big deal about these vehicles being designed primarily for North America.

V6 and Six-Speed Automatic
The CX-9 sports a 3.5L DOHC 24v V6 that Ford is rolling out in its CD3-based products starting with the 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX car-based SUVs. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda’s preliminary horsepower estimate is 250HP, just as Ford’s was in January when the Edge and MKX were revealed. Since then, Ford confirmed 265HP for the Edge and 263HP for the MXX, so more power may yet be had in the Mazda.



Unlike the MKX, Edge, or Mazda’s CX-7, the CX-9 offers three rows of seats to hold seven passengers. The third row is a 50/50 split and the second a 60/40 split. The CX-9 is also the largest of these products, with a 113.2-inch wheelbase that is larger than much of the mid-size competition; the same is true of the CX-9’s nearly 200-inch overall length. Front-drive will be standard and all-wheel drive optional; Mazda uses the AWD system from MazdaSpeed6 and CX-7.


Competitive Electronic Aids, Optional Convenience Equipment
The CX-9 gets roll stability control, dynamic stability control, and ABS standard, as well as six airbags. ABS incorporates traction control and brake-force distribution systems as well. Three models (Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring) will be offered. As is customary with premium mid-size offerings these days, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power locks and windows, and cruise control will be standard. Leather seats, power-adjustable seats, HID headlamps with automatic on, power liftgate, and rain-sensing wipers are among the options to be offered. Standard wheels are eighteen-inchers, with twenty-inch wheels and tires on the options list. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system and navigation are expected.


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