The all-new Mazda CX-9 crossover has been revealed at the LA motor show, and will go on sale in the US early next year.
The CX-9 shows the next evolution of the Kodo design language, and Mazda says the crossover "moves towards a more premium design execution that befits a three-row mid-size crossover SUV".
It previews how the design will evolve, and acts as a bridge to the next generation of products. Examples include the 3D effect of the grille and the way it runs backwards into the bonnet line and into the shoulder line. The lines can also be tracked inside.
The CX-9, which was 10 years old in its previous generation, is also the last of the old Ford-based models to be replaced. There are some CX-5 components in there, but it’s all put together differently.
Julien Montousse, design director, Mazda North America, said his team kicked off the design of the project, before collaborating with the main design team in Japan.
“It’s a seven-seat passenger vehicle that looks sexy without being over the top. Most cars like this are practical boxes; we wanted to offer more than a practical SUV. People are now looking for a balance between family and self indulgence.
“There has been a push to move away from all-Ford powertrains and platforms, and show we can do a seven-seat vehicle."
The CX-9 will be sold in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the Middle East.
As for the lack of sales in Europe, Montousse said he "needed to speak to product planning about it”.
“Seven-seaters are usually boxy," he said. "But this car has sophistication; people want to own it. I think it would do well in Europe.”
The seven-seat crossover, which will sit at the very top of Mazda's US range, takes clear styling cues from the Koeru concept car unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September. The CX-9 also takes on a more aggressive appearance than its predecessor.
Inside, the CX-9 follows the smaller CX-5 and CX-3 in receiving a free-standing infotainment screen on the centre console, operated via a rotary controller, but features more premium materials in keeping with its range-topping position.
The car's shape was first hinted at by an official design sketch, revealed earlier this month.
Power for the car comes from a new 2.5-litre 250bhp SkyActiv-G petrol engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda says the new engine is the most powerful unit in its line-up. It's based on the same engine currently offered in the Mazda 6 and CX-5 in the US, but is now turbocharged. By comparison, the current CX-9 is offered with a 269bhp 3.7-litre V6.
The CX-9 will also be available with the option of all-wheel drive, and will come with Mazda's i-Activesense suite of safety technologies.
Speaking at the launch of the CX-9 in LA, Mazda boss Masamichi Kogai said: “The US is a key market for Mazda. We will keep this momentum and aim for further growth going forward. A key driver of this growth will be the all-new CX-9.
“Our US team took the lead in planning and designing the model to make sure it meets the needs of consumers here.”
Sales of the CX-9 will start in the US next spring. Mazda says it is targeting sales of around 50,000 units globally for the CX-9, with around 80% coming from North America.
Despite the growing appetite for SUVs and crossovers in Europe, there are currently no plans to sell the new Mazda CX-9 here.