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Edmunds Evaluation: 2007 Mazda CX-9

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Edmunds Evaluation: 2007 Mazda CX-9

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The call of the third-row seat is pretty strong. Strong enough for a long list of crossover SUVs to have sprouted tiny, tacked-on, kids-only third rows that eat up any hope of carrying decent cargo. Minivans seat seven of course, but bottom out your cool factor faster than a Members Only jacket. So what's a guy to do?

Mazda's product planners think the 2007 Mazda CX-9, the company's largest vehicle ever, is the answer. Like the smaller Mazda CX-7, the CX-9 is a crossover that combines sleek styling with available all-wheel drive and quite a bit of zoom-zoom. But unlike its little brother, or the similarly priced Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, the CX-9 packs a standard and easily accessible third-row seat.

(Note that this is a pre-production vehicle being tested.)

Read "The cure for the common minivan" @ Edmunds

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In the style department, the CX-9 beats the Pilot, Highlander, and even the new MDX. I can't wait to see the comparison between this and the Saturn Outlook or the GMC Acadia.

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Not bad, I like :)

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The CX-9 is one good-looking crossover. I love the crisp (if a bit derivative) taillight design.

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Zoom number one

Confused? All you need to know is that this new larger platform made possible, and perhaps necessary, the installation of an impressive, all-new 60-degree double-overhead cam 3.5-liter V6 engine. It's rated at a healthy 263 horsepower at 6250 rpm and 249 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm, and feels every bit of that. As a bonus, plain old 87 octane achieves that rating. EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available, but Mazda hints at "mid-20s" on the highway.

In a Gilligan-esque three-hour tour, we delighted not only in the new mill's willingness to pull us out of corners with authority, but also in the smoothness and refinement of the accompanying sound. And despite the power on tap, our front-wheel-drive prototype didn't exhibit significant torque steer — quite a relief after experiencing worst-in-recent-memory performance on a 2006 Toyota RAV4 front-driver with a similar-sized V6.

The most significant CX-7 hardware item carried over to the CX-9 is the well-sorted six-speed automatic transmission. We loved its smooth and positive shifting behavior in that application, and it's much the same here. An identical manual-mode lever with zoom-appropriate downshift-forward, upshift-back logic comes over, too. Gear ratios are intact, but the final-drive ratio and shift schedule have been tweaked to suit.

when does it go on sale?

edit- ok, January. there will be waiting lists. now this is a real useful vehicle for decent money (unlike others that shall go nameless, cough... RDX)

Edited by regfootball

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