Gallery Mazda CX-9 Photo 26
New midsize crossover is designed just for the U.S. market
The United States eats up about 90 percent of Mazda CX-9 sales worldwide. So when Mazda redesigned its biggest crossover SUV, it tailored it to U.S. market’s desires. The research used to design the new vehicle included not just focus groups, questionnaires and family visits, but what could otherwise have been considered stalking.
“We would go to elementary schools around 3:00 and follow all the crossover SUVs home,” said Mazda engineer Dave Coleman.
They did this not because Mazda is populated by creepy weirdos, but to gather data about exactly what speed and how much throttle most midsized crossover owners actually used. Turns out, they barely tipped the throttle.
Ninety percent of the time they were below 3000 rpm, Coleman said. So the new 2.5-liter turbo in the new CX-9 is designed to maximize torque below 3,000 rpm. This sacrifices horsepower above 5,000 rpm but that’s fine, no one ever went to 5,000 rpm. That’ll throw off the 0-60 times that all car magazines and many car buyers have used as a metric for centuries. But the actual users of the vehicles will be getting exactly what they want, Mazda says.
Mazda CX-9 on stand
The heart of the torque lies in the turbocharger, or rather, the variable nozzle upstream of the turbo. Mazda says it acts like a thumb on a garden hose to increase exhaust speed and spool up the turbo at lower engine speeds. Engineers also decided to cool the EGR gas which in turn allowed a compression ratio of 10.5:1. The result is 250 hp at 5,000 rpm, yes, but 310 lb-ft of torque starting at only 2,000 revs. Mazda says the CX-9 launches much better at the lower engine speeds at which real owners operate their crossover SUVs. The emphasis on torque also means fewer downshifts. The previous engine needed to downshift two gears to pass at highway speeds, for instance. The new one doesn’t have to downshift at all for most partial-throttle passing maneuvers.
Mazda also says the new model is quieter thanks to thicker glass, increased body rigidity and the addition of sound-deadening material throughout, 53 pounds of the stuff. Weight savings in the stiffer body countered that extra insulation to lower curb weight. Interior noise drops a claimed 2.0 dB.
A host of new safety acronyms combine to keep the CX-9 on the road and going straight (or stopping) in a variety of adverse conditions. Then the i-ACTIV awd CX-9 uses all those sensors to predict when a wheel might slip before it actually slips and counters any loss of traction before it happens.
Inside Mazda promises more comfortable seats, easier access to the third row and “elegant white LED accent lighting throughout.”
Look for the new CX-9 in U.S. showrooms in spring.