What's a sporty car company like Mazda doing in the three-row SUV business? Maybe they're making big crossovers into something fun to drive?
That's what we're hoping for with the CX-9, the three-row family wagon coming for the 2016 model year.
The CX-9 joined the Mazda lineup in the 2006 model year, and hasn't been changed much since—until now. The new crossover gets its underpinnings from the Mazda 6 sedan, and its styling comes straight from the same pens that brought you the new Miata and Mazda 3. It's one of the more expressive three-row SUVs we can name—its slicked-back greenhouse sits behind a long nose, and the wheels sit close to the corners, for a look that's more grand tourer than family wagon.
The cockpit is styled in a handsome, clean, and modern way, with touches like rosewood, aluminum, and Nappa leather on the order sheet. Mazda says it's also worked hard to remove noise from the cabin—adding a few dozen pounds of sound deadening while keeping the CX-9 trim. In fact, it's almost 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing car.
In part, that's because it's smaller. The wheelbase is longer by 2.2 inches, but overall length is down 1.2 inches.
Under the hood is the long-awaited Mazda turbocharged four. It's a 2.5-liter engine, with 250 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic and either front- or all-wheel drive. It's an engine we hope will also make an appearance in, well, let's just say every other Mazda in existence today.
Other technologies fitted to the 2016 CX-9 include LED headlights, Mazda Connect infotainment and the i-ActivSense suite of electronic driver aids and safety features.
Pricing hasn't been announced, but the 2016 Mazda CX-9 goes on sale next spring.