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Mercedes Should Be Scared: Mazda’s New CX-9 Could Be Better Than The GLS

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This car will lead Mazda's charge into the luxury market.

The new Mazda CX-9 is a crucial car for the brand. Not only are CX models half of the cars that Mazda sells, but the current version is already a decade old and is ready for replacement. This new SUV gives the funky automaker's fans a flagship crossover alternative to other established and strong selling cars like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot. As the top-shelf car, Mazda wants the CX-9 to lead the charge into the driveways of active families with higher incomes who want luxury and utility.

To pull it off, the crossover has undergone extensive restyling to make it more palatable for modern customers. Sharper lines, more narrow headlamps, and a protruding grill make this version look a lot more aggressive and sporty than the previous iteration. The old crossover had soft and smooth looks, and it appeared like a minivan or the horrid Buick Enclave. The interior, which seats seven, didn't get skipped on the redesign. It will feature top quality materials such as leather, aluminum, and real wood to make the previous generation's interior look primitive. An iPad-like touch screen sits in the center console and the aesthetics inside look like Mazda borrowed Mercedes and Audi's interior decorators.

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The 2.5-liter turbocharged direct injection inline-four with a high compression ratio ensures that this luxury-mobile has some bite. The Skyactiv engine sends 227 horsepower to all four wheels through an intelligent AWD system that predicts the terrain in front of it and adjusts power output to each wheel accordingly. With Mazda claiming that it will sell 50,000 units per year globally (with 85 percent of those being in North America), this SUV looks like a promising new direction to lead the brand's charge upwards. Live shots by Alden Tatum.