If you read our coverage from last week's Los Angeles Auto Show, you'll note that we were extremely fond of the new Mazda CX-9. We like the look of the thing, inside and out, and it promises to be the best-driving entry in the three-row crossover class. We agree wholeheartedly with that claim. You see, we already drove it.Full disclosure: Our test of the camouflaged CX-9 prototype you see here was short, and while we were able to get a good handle on the CX-9's basic driving dynamics, it'll take more than a 30-mile session around the outskirts of LA to uncover the finer details. What's more, these vehicles are not production ready. In fact, according to our handlers at Mazda, the CUV we tested was actually at the stage before pre-production – so basically, a pre-pre-production car. That said, all the details about the engine, transmission, suspension, and steering are "largely final."As you can see in the gallery, the cars we tested were heavily camouflaged both inside and out. As for styling, we love it – see the undisguised pictures from the LA show for more views. And as for inside, we can say leather seats of our Grand Touring model were comfortable and supportive, and the smallish steering wheel felt natural in the hand. Even in pre-pre-production state, the CX-9 was impressively quiet. An extra 53 pounds of under-floor sound deadening, thicker windows, and active noise cancellation all contribute to what Mazda claims will be "among the quietest vehicles in its class." It's worth noting that the good sounds, like the throaty, whooshy noises of the turbocharged engine, found their way into the cabin just fine. The 2.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine – Mazda's first force-induced Skyactiv engine – is an excellent piece.The 2.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine – Mazda's first force-induced Skyactiv engine – is an excellent piece. It uses a variable geometry turbocharger, which the company calls a Dynamic Pressure Turbo. Here's how Mazda explains it: Imagine a normal garden hose. Put your thumb over the nozzle, and the force of the water increases dramatically. That's the DPT at low rpms. It features three small exhaust ports to direct exhaust gases into the turbo, making for 17.4 quick-spooling PSI at low rpms. As the revs climb, a flow control valve opens up, redirecting the gases to a trio of larger ports – removing your thumb from the hose, if you will – and keeping the boost up.Mazda also fit a four-three-one "pulse converter" exhaust manifold that takes advantage of something called the ejector effect. This setup means that the outer cylinders get their own exhaust ports, while the inner cylinders share a port. That means exhaust gases are always drawn from adjacent ports, allowing the ejector effect to kick in. To understand this effect, imagine an airbrush. Air spews out of the gun, creating a low-pressure effect at the tip, which then sucks paint out of a reservoir. The air and paint mix in the air, and voila, …
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|MPG||20 City / 26 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||227 @ 5000 rpm|
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