While Autoblog was busy checking out the new Rogue, Grand Caravan, SRT4 and C30, everybody else at the recent South East Automotive Media Organization ride and drive was apparently loving on Mazda's CX-9. Out of a possible 100 points, journalists at the event gave the SUV a score of 91, putting it way ahead of the 32 other vehicles from which to choose.

The contenders were rated on attributes that included safety, capacity, accessibility, value, amenities, ergonomics, NVH and styling. Personally, as both a family man and a member of the automotive media, my vote went to the new Dodge Caravan overall. It definitely loses out to the CX-9 on looks, but as a kid-hauler, it obviously ruled in all other categories. So how does a minivan with dual DVD players, seating for seven, a fold-away table, hookups for video games and wireless headphones lose to an SUV with many of the same options, but costs as much as $8,000 more?

After driving each car at the event, journalists were asked to submit their ratings for the vehicle on all the above attributes. We were told by someone in the know that Autoblog's rating sheet was one of very few submitted for the Caravan. Which means it didn't get driven a whole lot. We're not suggesting any wrongdoing, just saying that a bunch of automotive journalists with limited time and miles of twisty roads to drive will rarely choose a relatively slow and ugly minivan over a sleek, luxury-like SUV. Unless their boss, (that's you, John) asks them to.

Hey, John, next time, dang it, I'm driving the R32 instead of the Rogue and the CX-9 instead of the Caravan.

[Source: Mazda]


Charlotte, NC - The South East Automotive Media Organization (SEAMO) recently honored the 2008 Mazda CX-9 with the inaugural "Family Car of the Year Award" during the group's sixth annual media ride and drive event, held at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

"We are honored to receive this inaugural award from journalists in the southeast," says Dave Sweet, group manager, Product Strategies, Mazda North American Operations. "The CX-9 3.7L is our newest and most exciting vehicle that combines the utility of a family vehicle with seating for seven, and the power and 'zoom-zoom' of a sports car. With a new blind spot monitoring system for 2008, we know that families and fun seekers will enjoy the ride while benefiting from the many safety features. Family cars should be a joy to drive and this award demonstrates that fun and functionality make a winning combination."

Engineered with Mazda's "Soul of a Sports car" DNA, CX-9 deftly blends sporty driving spirit with seven-passenger sport-utility vehicle (SUV) practicality. For 2008, CX-9 reaches a higher level of performance with a new standard 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine, resulting in 10 more horsepower (273) and 21 additional lb-ft of torque (270) compared to 2007.

From among a pool of 33 available test-drive vehicles, attending journalists from the south east region submitted a total of 97 ballots to select the top family-friendly vehicle. Vehicles were judged on family friendliness through eight categories: safety, capacity, accessibility, value, amenities, ergonomics, NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) and styling. A maximum score of 100 points could be awarded for each ballot.

Tom Kelley, SEAMO's Executive Director, said "while there are dozens of 'Car of the Year' awards out there, the family car segment has yet to gain an appropriate level of attention, so the creation of SEAMO's 'Family Car of the Year Award' was long overdue. The 2008 Mazda CX9 stood out from an impressive field of competitors to exemplify what SEAMO members consider to be the most important attributes of a great family car."

To determine the vehicle's final score, points from each ballot cast for the vehicle were averaged and then the average score was weighted with one additional point for each ballot cast for the vehicle. The 2008 Mazda CX-9 took top honors with a final score of 91 points.

Founded in 2001, SEAMO's membership includes the Southeast's top automotive journalists, along with regional and national marketing representatives from all of the mainstream automotive brands. In addition to conducting the Family Car of the Year Award program, SEAMO is also the host organization for the North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards.

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