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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.

Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept

Right after Chevrolet gave to the market the C7 Corvette, Volkswagen is ready to offer SUV lovers, or rather the American SUV lovers the most American vehicle of the year. Volkswagen CrossBlue concept was revealed at the Detroit auto show this year. Officially a concept, the CrossBlue while sporting the plug-in diesel-electric powertrain as a token to carry on the legacy of the classic auto-show fare, the concept is quite a foretaste to the three-row SUV Volkswagen is about to offer in the coming two years.

As the brand tells about the Volkswagen CrossBlue and the production version that will step into the light with a different name, the crossovers are claimed as being “made for America”. It’s a two way deal. While the CrossBlue concept is a stunning treat to the American taste buds, the CrossBlue will be a trump card for VW quest for American sales growth. Anticipated to be a six or seven seater, the three-row crossover takes straight aims at the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder. The design of the concept perfectly displays the key characteristics of American SUVs. Marc Lichte, exterior designer for the Volkswagen CrossBlue concept skillfully incorporated giant wheel arches, a broad stance and the general brawn and masculinity into the design for the Americans to indulge into their rides. The successful attempt to style the CrossBlue for the Americans is testified by the fact that it is virtually a doppelganger to the Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and the styling is to remain mostly the same for the production model as well.

The Volkswagen CrossBlue concept’s powertrain is a diesel hybrid setup combining the latest EA288 2.0 liter turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, a six-speed DSG dual clutch automatic transmission and two electric motors, one at each axle. On its own, the diesel is capable of producing 190 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque while the front mounted motor delivers 54 horses and 133 pound feet of twist along with the rear mounted one that is good for 114 and 119. Overall, the system is one big machine successfully producing 305 horsepower and a phenomenal torque of 516 pound feet. The brand claims that CrossBlue can cruise at a theoretical top speed of 127 mph and can achieve 60 mph from rest (o mph) in an impressive 7.0 seconds.

It is not yet decided where the CrossBlue will get its final North American assembly. Reports are the various VW plants are to bid for the right to build the stunning crossover. However, it is strongly anticipated that the crossover will unite with the Passat in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There is expected to be a long wait between the idea and the implementation. The concept is not yet to be headed for production and there have been no official announcements made. For a German company to pursue such a considerable wait for a behind schedule model, it comes with a bit of the surprise, but maybe it is just another aspect among many of the Volkswagen’s Americanization.

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