2010 MAZDA CX-9: BOLDER AND MORE SOPHISTICATEDAs the saying goes, there is always room for improvement. In the automotive industry, minor improvements often come in the form of performance, handling and design - all things that have become synonymous with Mazda vehicles. So, naturally, when the Mazda design, engineering and product marketing divisions sat down to discuss minor refreshes for the 2010 CX-9, they quickly realized just how challenging the task would be.
An instant success when it first hit the market in 2007, the CX-9 raised the bar for three-row crossover SUVs. From its dynamic styling and safety to versatility and performance, Mazda's flagship crossover SUV continues to wow customers and automotive critics alike as it moves into its fourth year of production. For the 2010 model year, the CX-9 receives a significant exterior and interior facelift, added options and reinforced safety features.
A DESIGN THAT EMBODIES EMOTION
Many mid-sized crossover SUVs strive for the utilitarian look. The Mazda CX-9, however, is designed to evoke a strong pride of ownership. Without sacrificing versatility or efficiency, the CX-9 strives for the sophisticated appearance of a vehicle costing two to three times as much. Its smooth and flowing silhouette, prominent wheels and tires, muscular fenders and steeply angled windshield give the CX-9 a dramatic-but-refined look.
CX-9's front end is unmistakably Mazda, with its elegantly sculpted sporty five-point grille and wide, bold bumper. A horizontal streak of chrome floats on the front grille bar, giving a distinctive and high-quality feel. Side windows form a flowing, open and modern greenhouse, allowing clear vision from all seating positions. The unique, trapezoid, dual chrome exhaust pipes accentuate the fine detail put into the design.
As is also the case with other recent vehicles in the Mazda lineup, the 2010 CX-9 receives a Nagare-inspired exterior and interior. Wrapped from front to rear with subtle design cues that express the 'embodiment of motion,' the exterior of the CX-9 is sleek and sophisticated for 2010. Key enhancements include:
• New family face features including a bolder five-point grille, radiator grille, front combination lamps and fog lamps
• New 20-inch and 18-inch wheel design
• Larger, more aerodynamic side mirrors
• Rear garnish, which compliments the look of the front fascia design
• Rear combination lamps that mimic the same Nagare-inspired texture as front lamps, while incorporating a new red lens at the bottom to show stability
• New exterior color - Dolphin Gray
CRAFTED AND REFINED INTERIOR STYLING
Once inside the CX-9, the driver is greeted by a neatly organized combination of cylindrical shapes and blacked-out instruments on a T-shaped instrument panel. Brightly edged gauges and indirect blue illumination set a cool mood. Indirect lighting also is embedded in the ceiling for a warm glow. Horizontal elements in areas such as the center panel, door trim and seat design intersect with vertical accents to create the same harmony present in fine furniture.
Interior craftsmanship and attention to detail is visible everywhere. Soft trim is elegantly configured and constructed of top-quality materials and seats have an inviting yet sporty look and feel appropriate to this type of vehicle. The dash panel houses large, clearly marked entertainment and climate controls. The metallic look of the floating door trim-grips reveals the designer's fine eye for detail.
New for 2010, upscale interior appointments further enhance the level of quality and sophistication CX-9 customers have come to expect, while maintaining the basic styling theme of the outgoing model. Enhancements include:
• Chrome accents on center IP, A/C controls, automatic transmission lever knob, vent louver knobs, inner door handles and door trim
• New fabric seating surfaces
• Piano-black insets on steering wheel and around audio display
• Smooth leather and subtle stitching on seating surfaces offer a more quality-feel (standard on Touring and Grand Touring models)
• High-density fabric provides richer look and softer touch for cloth seats (Sport models)
• New double-lid design center console allows for ease of opening and has ample storage for up to four DVDs and nine CDs.
AMPLE POWER, REFINED PERFORMANCE
The 2010 CX-9 is powered by a 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine, making the most complex pursuits as easy and as pleasurable as possible. The 60-degree short-stroke V6 is state-of-the-art throughout. Advanced features include a die-cast aluminum block with cast-in iron cylinder liners and aluminum cylinder heads for minimal weight. The valvetrain includes chain-driven dual overhead camshafts for minimal maintenance, four valves-per-cylinder with direct acting bucket-type actuators, and variable intake valve timing. A high 10.3:1 compression ratio maximizes efficiency and power output while the throttle is electronically controlled for instantaneous response. Two close-coupled catalytic converters cleanse the exhaust without inhibiting power.
Computer-aided-engineering analysis was extensively used to configure the cylinder block casting, to shape intake and exhaust ports, and to design the high-volume exhaust system fitted with three large mufflers. Very low back pressure is one of the reasons why the power curve is still ascending at the 6500-rpm redline. In addition, the forged-steel crankshaft is fitted with induction-hardened journals, a full complement of counterweights. Engineering details even extend to a roller-chain cam-drive sprocket lined with rubber for quiet operation.
A power peak of 273 horsepower at 6,250 rpm provides CX-9 with sparkling accelerating and passing performance. The torque curve keeps 250 lb-ft from 3,000 to 6,000 rpm and peaking with 270 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm.
To combine excellent acceleration and high fuel mileage, CX-9 includes an Aisin-supplied six-speed Sport AT automatic transmission with manual-mode as standard equipment. Broad ratios maximize flexibility by providing enthusiastic launch acceleration with quiet cruising. The top two gears are both overdrive ratios.
Front-wheel drive is standard in the Mazda CX-9 for excellent drivability, with Mazda's Active Torque All-Wheel Drive optionally available. Also used in the CX-7 crossover SUV, this system rapidly adjusts to changing traction needs by monitoring wheel slippage, steering angle, yaw rate, lateral acceleration and available driveline torque. In normal driving, 100-percent of the driving torque is delivered to the front wheels. During aggressive acceleration or when one front wheel is on the verge of slip, a controlled percentage of the available torque is directed to the rear axle.
A power take-off device integrated with the CX-9's transaxle spins a drive shaft attached to an active coupling built into the rear differential. Commanded by a control module, the servo-controlled multi-plate coupling can route from zero up to 50 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels.