While there weren’t any fireworks, models or laser light shows involved with Mazda’s unveiling of the seven-passenger CX-9 in New York today, the sport utility’s sheer size guaranteed a big entrance. Set to go on sale in early 2007, the CX-9 has the largest third-row seat in its class and a lot of room for ingress into the back-back seat.

The CX-9 will also feature Ford’s new six-speed auto and a derivation of the Blue Oval’s new 3.5L V6, which Mazda is giving a preliminary power rating of 250 hp. That’s a conservative estimate, expect that number to rise before the CX-9 hits the street. Available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim, the CX-9 will offer some degree of Zoom-Zoom at each level. All models gets Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control and ABS with brakeforce distribution.

GM is now making inroads into the large unibody SUV market with the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, and now Mazda is adding its CX-9 to the mix. We’ve shown you both the Outlook and CX-9 at the show… so which would you choose if you needed three rows and preferred a V6?

After the jump there’s more pics and a press release for you viewing pleasure…


2007 MAZDA CX-9: ZOOM-ZOOM WITH EVEN MORE ROOM
-- Mazda unveils all-new seven-passenger crossover SUV --

NEW YORK — Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today debuted the 2007 Mazda CX-9 seven-passenger crossover sport-utility vehicle (SUV) at the New York International Auto Show. Arriving in Mazda dealerships in early 2007, the CX-9 is designed and engineered specifically for North America.  The Mazda CX-9 provides unique Mazda design and energetic performance as well as an up-market interior with class-leading space and unmatched versatility.

Like the Mazda CX-7 presented earlier this year, the CX-9 is a clean break from the traditional boxy SUVs crowding the US market.  While styling echoes the CX-7, CX-9 is not a lengthened three-row CX-7, and CX-7 is not a shorter-wheelbase CX-9.  Engineered with Mazda’s “Soul of a Sportscar” signature, CX-9 deftly blends sporty driving spirit with seven-passenger SUV practicality.  Standing out from existing crossover SUVs – vehicles that deliver SUV practicality with a passenger car driving experience – the Mazda CX-9 is the insightful solution not only to the modern family’s complex need but also to the enthusiast driver’s desires.  And of course Zoom-Zoom is standard.

“The North American market continues to play a leading role in Mazda Motor Corporation’s global future and financial health,” emphasizes Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, MNAO.  “The all-new CX-7 and CX-9 were engineered specifically for North America to help us fulfill ambitious goals. The CX-9 represents everything a Mazda SUV should be, offering ample power, striking appearance, fun-to-drive vitality, precision build quality and unexpected versatility. While other vehicles in this category focus only on what’s behind the drivers seat for the family, we have engineered a unique solution that is equally as exciting for the driver.”

Mazda CX-9 targets young couples and modern families. These outwardly-focused families haven’t lost their desire for high-intensity leisure activities, learning experiences and social interaction. It is also ideal for couples with grown children who pursue an active lifestyle.  Mazda CX-9 is specifically designed to make these complex pursuits as easy and as pleasurable as possible.

SPACE TO STRETCH
The Mazda CX-9 rides on one of the longest wheelbases in the segment, providing easy access to its three-row seating.  There’s ample room for adults in every position and sufficient cargo space to accommodate modern American families.  Under the sleek exterior is an interior that will impress demanding customers with its space, utility, versatility, and premium features.

To ease accommodations for all drivers, the driver’s seat and steering column move quickly and easily over a long range of adjustment.  The 60-40 split second row not only carries three in comfort, it also offers approximately five-inches of fore-and-aft slide travel and a reclining backrest.  In the 50-50-split third row, the seating position and leg room are both class-leading in numbers and real comfort.  Entry to the third row is easy, with nearly 26 inches of access space between the folded second-row seat and the C-pillar.  Even with the third row occupied, the CX-9 provides 17.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, eclipsing many large sedan trunks.  Both second- and third-row seats fold flat to allow additional storage all the way up to the back of the front seats.  

Extra thought is invested in small details, such as how the CX-9’s seat releases are configured.  For example, releasing the second row seat in order to enter the third row requires only one simple hand motion to unlatch the seat and move it forward.  Likewise, a clever strap attached behind the third row seat’s backrest serves as both a release for folding the seat and a means of pulling it back erect again. 

EXTERIOR STYLING A PRIORITY
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 and backlight 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 chrome exhaust pipe accentuates the fine detail put into the design. 

INTERIOR STYLING STANDS OUT
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 with metal-look trim and indirect blue illumination set a cool mood. Indirect lighting also is embedded in the front and rear door trim and 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. Delicate stitching and the metallic look of the floating door trim-grips reveal the designer’s fine eye for detail.

ENERGETIC AND REFINED POWERTRAIN
At the heart of every Mazda lies a spirited engine. The CX-9 is powered by a new 3.5-liter V-6 with a preliminary rating of 250-horsepower.  Advanced features include dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, a high compression ratio and electronic throttle control.  While six-speed automatic transmissions have until now been exclusive to premium-priced SUVs, the CX-9 provides that desirable feature as standard equipment.  The direct benefits to Mazda customers are optimum acceleration and passing performance, coupled with excellent highway fuel efficiency.

Drive is either through the front wheels or via Mazda’s advanced Active Torque-Split All-Wheel Drive system.  On all-wheel-drive models, various sensors signal control modules to automatically apportion torque to those wheels most able to provide solid traction.  A computer-controlled coupling, connected with the rear differential, automatically adjusts the torque distribution, allowing up to 50-percent of the drive power to be sent to the rear wheels, depending on traction conditions.  This all-wheel drive system has been especially well received in MAZDASPEED6 and CX-7 applications.

 SURE-FOOTED CHASSIS & BODY
The stiff unibody of the Mazda CX-9 provides a sound foundation for a poised ride and agile handling.  Computer-aided-engineering analysis was used to optimize this structure, delivering high torsional and bending rigidity with minimal weight.  Extra laser welds and adhesive weld bonding have been applied in critical areas for enhanced stiffness.  Damping sheets applied to floor areas and acoustic foam filler added to body cavities assure a quiet, high quality cabin environment.

In front, the perimeter frame mounted to the unibody through six rubber isolators supports the powertrain, the engine-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering, and a low friction strut-type suspension system using coil springs.  The multilink rear suspension consists of one trailing arm and two lateral locating members per side.  To minimize cargo-compartment intrusion and permit a wider load space, the rear coil spring is positioned between the lower lateral member and the unibody.  A damper is located as close as possible to each rear wheel to provide excellent motion control with minimal friction.  Anti-roll bars at each end maximize agility and control during assertive driving.

Twenty-inch, V-rated, low-profile radial tires (P245/50R-20) are standard equipment on the top Grand Touring model while Sports and Touring editions roll on P245/60R-18 tires.  As a result, CX-9 looks and feels unusually nimble for its size and is the clear class leader for driving pleasure.

SAFETY WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
The Mazda CX-9’s safety features are highlighted by an advanced Roll Stability Control (RSC) system that uses both body-roll rate and wheel speed sensors to determine when corrective action is necessary.  A momentary torque reduction, combined with an automatic brake application, assists in restoring the CX-9 to an even keel. 

Four-wheel disc ventilated brakes include an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) to prevent lockup during emergency use.  When excessive wheel slippage is detected, a Traction Control System (TCS) automatically reduces driveline torque to help restore traction.  Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) reduces driveline torque and automatically applies one or more brakes to minimize under- or over-steer during emergency maneuvers.
Additional protection is provided by sensor-activated side-curtain airbags which extend from the first to the third row.  These inflatable restraints deploy in the event of a lateral collision or a rollover to reduce the likelihood of injury and limb or head ejection. Inflation is maintained for approximately six seconds for maximum effectiveness, although the only way these systems work properly is when used in combination with seatbelts.  Pretensioner devices automatically remove slack from the belt system immediately after a moderate or greater frontal collision and load limiters are incorporated to provide some give as the occupant moves forward.  The CX-9’s front headrests incorporate new design features which are designed primarily to reduce neck injuries during rear impacts. 

CX-9’s robust unibody uses the Mazda Advanced Impact-Energy Distribution and Absorption System to help protect its cabin from deformation harm in the event of a collision.  A combination of large-section members, some made from high-tensile steel, envelope the passenger compartment to absorb impact energy while guarding against intrusion. 

TRIM AND ENTERTAINMENT FEATURES
CX-9 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. 

More detail on specific model content will be available closer to launch, but standard features on all trims include air conditioning, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry, cruise control, and six airbags.  To help avoid accidents, all CX-9s are fitted as standard with DSC, RSC and ABS with brakeforce distribution.  An optionally available power-operated lift gate provides one-touch opening and closing access to the cargo hold.

 Features available in models and packages include leather interior trim, power adjustment for front seats, high intensity discharge headlamps with automatic-on, rain-sensing wipers, mirror-mounted turn indicators and driver’s-seat memory. 

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.  Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.