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L.A. Auto Show 2015: Mazda CX-9

What is it?

This will be Mazda’s second iteration of the CX-9, a large 7-seat crossover. Mazda has not yet announcing pricing for the new model, which goes on sale in the spring. The starting price of the current model is $30,875 including delivery fee.

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Why it matters

The current Mazda CX-9 needs replacing. It is 10 years old, having lasted about double the age of the typical Japanese vehicle life cycle, said Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at car shopping company TrueCar.com.

The new CX-9 competes in a strong segment of the auto industry and is a vehicle developed largely for U.S. consumers. IHS automotive forecasts that the U.S. will account for as much as 75% of the model’s global sales in 2017.

It provides a way for Mazda customers to stick with the brand even when their families outgrow the smaller CX-5, said Stephanie Brinley, an IHS analyst.

(Mazda)

“Mazda’s recent model updates have been largely successful, offering a distinct blend of style, sporty nature and reliability,” Brinley said. “Mazda doesn’t lead in any particular technology area, but most of its products offer a more engaging experience than competitors.”

READ: Mazda CEO talks rotary engines, hydrogen fuel

What's new

The CX-9 will be updated with Mazda’s Skyactive suite of engine and design technology, which lowers weight and improves fuel economy. The car has shed almost 200 pounds from the current model.

The seven seat crossover also has all new styling and a new turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. The vehicle also gets a full suit of active safety features, including blind spot warning, collision warning with automatic breaking and high beam control that automatically switches the intensity of the lights depending on traffic.

“This is Mazda’s only true large vehicle, so it fills a critical role within the lineup. However, a large portion of large SUV growth happened in 2014, so Mazda will hope to recapture some of that magic for the CX-9,” said Akshay Anand, analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

The competition

It competes with a range of crossovers, including the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Buick Enclave and Nissan Pathfinder.

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(Mazda)

The details

The new engine puts out 250 horsepower, less than the 273 produced by the V-6 in the current model. But the new engine will produce 310 pound-feet or torque compared to the 270 in the old engine. The vehicle also is expected to get fuel economy in the low 20 mpg range, about a 20% gain on the current model. It will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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