Published on March 4th, 2016 | by Steve Hanley
New Mazda CX-9 Takes Top Honors For Non-Hybrid Fuel Efficiency
Mazda uses the phrase SkyActive technology to describe cars with highly efficient gasoline engines that are also light in weight. The goal is to offer some of the highest mileage cars on the road. The latest model to get the SkyActive treatment is the company’s largest crossover vehicle, the CX-9.
Crossovers with three row seating are much in demand today. Usually, they are very good at hauling families and all their stuff here and there but don’t get very good gas mileage. The CX-9 has all the cargo room customers want plus seating for 7 passengers. It has also been put on a diet. The new car weighs 300 pounds less than the prior model according to Car and Driver. It is powered by a turbocharged 2.5 liter four cylinder engine. The old car used a V-6 sourced from Ford. The engine is mated to an all new 6 speed automatic transmission.
The EPA has just finished testing the new model and declares it the most fuel efficient crossover with three row seating that is not a hybrid. The official number are 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive. Cars with all wheel drive are rated 1 mpg less. Those numbers place the CX-9 ahead of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Pathfinder, and Kia Sorrento. The front wheel drive Ford Explorer matches the front wheel drive CX-9 on the highway, but that’s only with its optional turbocharged four cylinder engine. V-6 powered models and all wheel drive versions fall short of the Mazda.
As part of its SkyActive system, the turbocharger used in the CX-9 uses a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system to keep engine temperatures low. That eliminates the need to add extra fuel to the combustion chamber to keep combustion temperatures low. Mazda isn’t sure if that system helps with EPA ratings but thinks it will pay off in real-world use. The new CX-9 goes on sale in a few months.
American shoppers don’t seem to care much about fuel economy numbers these days, but manufacturers still go to extraordinary lengths to get the highest EPA rating possible. Speaking strictly for myself, the marketing phrase “SkyActive” doesn’t have nearly the same charm as the company’s old tag line, “zoom zoom,” however.