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First Look: 2014 Mazda CX-9

Standing out from the current line up from the brand, the new 2014 Mazda CX-9 is not only the brand’s largest vehicle, but it’s also a holdover from another era at the automaker; the era before the brand decided to “go it alone” away from Ford and focus on engineering more lightness and fuel efficiency into its cars and crossovers. Although the 2014 Mazda CX-9 is not a class leader in gas mileage, like those other models, it still ranks as one of the better large crossover options if you need three rows of seating and a responsive, almost nimble driving demeanor.

It was only last year that the Mazda CX-9 received a modest set of upgrades with a new snout that closely matches the frond-end look of the recently redesigned CX-5 compact crossover, Mazda 3 compact car family and the Mazda 6 Sedan. Already, the Mazda CX-9 has been one of the better looking vehicles in its class but the Kodo ‘soul of motion’ design language applied  with only the new front end and rear details to the 2014 Mazda CX-9 is a good fit with the SUV’s existing side profile. A number of minor aesthetic changes to the cabin can be seen in the 2014 Mazda CX-9. The centre stack area has been redesigned to accommodate a 5.8 inch touchscreen and overall the interior look, while clearly carried over is the better fit with the CX-5’s somewhat more upright look. The dashboard in the CX-9 features a graceful waterfall design that flows into the door panels with uncommon flair.

Performance changes aren’t much for the 2014 Mazda CX-9 and that is a good thing. The 3.7 liter ‘MZR’ V-6 engine produces a 273 horsepower and runs on regular gas. Mated to a six speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, the engine accelerates the crossover from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds for a front wheel drive configuration. An all wheel drive model needs 8.5 seconds for the same. The fuel economy is on par with that of other large crossovers at an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined (17 mpg city/24 mpg highway) for front wheel drive models. The 2014 Mazda CX-9 AWD drops to 18 mpg combined (16 mpg city/22 mpg highway).

Offering amazingly strong acceleration for both around town driving and highway passing the Mazda CX-9 impresses with its agile responses. An accomplished highway cruiser, this SUV keeps road and wind noises to acceptable levels for backseat movie viewing and such. The steering, so precise, enable the driver to carve a consistent path no matter if one powers down the interstate or makes time on a rural two-way road. The steep rake of the windshields adds to the sporty vibe of the giant crossover. The suspension is a combination of compliance and poise and this is one of the best handling crossovers around.

Yes there are competitors like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder, but the 2014 Mazda CX-9 stands out with its powerful V6 engine, dynamic handling, agile responses and a stunning body.

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