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2006 New York Auto Show, Part VI


 

 

 

 

2006 New York Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (4/10/2006)

 

 

Mazda Crosses Over with CX-9

 

2007 Mazda CX-9

2007 Mazda CX-9

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Though Mazda’ first crossover vehicle, the CX-7, hasn’t even hit showrooms yet, the Japanese automaker rolled out a second car-based utility vehicle on Thursday. With the largest interior ever for a Mazda, the three-row, seven-passenger CX-9 will serve as a more stylish and sporty alternative to the carmaker’s past minivan offerings. Under the hood? A 3.5-liter V-6, mated to a six-speed automatic. The CX-9’s rear seats fold flat, while the second row is a split-fold arrangement. The CX-9 also boasts the largest production wheel ever offered by Mazda, at 20 inches. The crossover will be offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, noted Robert Davis, product development chief for Mazda North America. Davis emphasized that while the CX-9 bears the “visual DNA” of the smaller CX-7, the two have virtually nothing in common, at least not mechanically. He also corrected earlier reports suggesting the CX-9 is simply a Japanese interpretation of Ford Motor Co.’s new Edge. The two crossovers are “cousins,” he said, but Mazda’s offering is largely based on the same platform used in the Mazda6 sedan. Mazda is clearly committed to the car/truck concept, Davis hinting, “We’ve got more to come.”

 

Differentiating between two new crossover models wasn’t easy, Mazda’s global design director, Moray Callum, acknowledged, during an interview with TheCarConnection.com. Trying to maximize passenger space in that sort of product presents a particular challenge, he explained. But there are some visual differences, inside and out. The CX-9 is a “striking and bold” shape, he suggested, though “more refined” than the CX-7. The challenge was “keeping the sportiness that is Mazda.” But that was perhaps the single most important reason to move away from the automaker’s classic people mover, the MPV, and switch to a crossover, anyway, according to Callum. For all the restrictions, designers, he added, find crossovers “more liberating for us than a traditional minivan.”

 

 

Mazda Puts Speed into 3

 

2006 MazdaSpeed3

2006 MazdaSpeed3

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Continuing to expand its new performance line, Mazda also used the New York auto show to roll out a sporty new version of its Mazda3 hatchback. The MazdaSpeed3’s direct-injection engine will churn out 250 horsepower, giving the vehicle a top speed of 150 mph, according to product development boss Robert Davis, who claimed, “It will be one of the fastest front-wheel-drive cars in the world.” Along with models like the MazdaSpeed6, the automaker is hoping to put a bit more zoom in its catchy and long-running “zoom, zoom” tag line. So don’t be surprised to see more MazdaSpeed offerings. But the line isn’t limited to specialty spin-offs, stressed Davis. There is an expanding emphasis on racing, as well as a growing lineup of MazdaSpeed performance accessories.

 

 

 

 

Kia Shows New Sorento

 

2007 Kia Sorento

2007 Kia Sorento

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Once little more than a sideshow to the competitive U.S. automotive market, Kia has pushed itself into the mainstream, thanks to an expanding lineup of products like the Sorento. The automaker pulled the wraps off a new version of the SUV at Javits Center, putting it squarely up against Japanese alternatives such as the Toyota Highlander. The Korean ute’s big 3.8-liter V-6 makes 262 horsepower, a 36-percent increase from the old Sorento, and even more than the Toyota 4Runner’s V-8. Towing capacity has been bumped up 42 percent, to 5000 pounds. Kia officials also emphasized the Sorento’s five-star crash ratings, as well as safety features like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Sorento is part of a tidal wave of new models that have rolled off Kia assembly lines in recent months. By the end of 2006, noted COO Len Hunt, the oldest product in the lineup will be Kia’s small Sportage SUV, which will have been around for barely 18 months.

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