Motor Trend Names Mazda CX-9 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year

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LOS ANGELES - October 15, 2007: Motor Trend today announced the Mazda CX-9 is Motor Trend's 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year.

The CX-9 reigned supreme out of a diverse crowd of 11 contenders, one of the highest quality fields Motor Trend has seen since it started evaluating sport/utilities. A category once reserved for a few off-road specialists, the sport/utility or crossover class now offers a vehicle for practically any driver, from almost any automaker. Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend, noted that this years field, while smaller than last years, includes significant new entries, including the best Buick in decadesnot just the best Buick SUV, but the best Buick, periodand a Hyundai that may have car buyers think twice about Lexus.

Mazdas victory, however, was a unanimous decision by the panel of judges.

We wondered if it would be possible for Mazda to inject its sports car DNA into their first-ever three-row crossovera crossover that happened to be one of the largest in the lineup, said MacKenzie. After three days of testing, that question was answered in full. It was arguably the most enjoyable sport/utility to drive, and a great reminder that SUVs can be as exciting as any car.

To judge contenders for the award, Motor Trends editorial staff conducted exhaustive off-road, street and track testing, and carefully considered essentials such as driving performance, safety and features. Sport/Utility of the Year is not a comparison test. Each contender was evaluated against three simple criteria: superiority (engineering, design, utilization of resources); significance (its impact on the market), and value (what buyers get for their money versus the competition).

Sport/Utility of the Year is only open to all-new or substantially upgraded vehicles that have gone on sale in the 12 months from November 1 of the previous year. Motor Trend looks for the pick of each years crop of new SUVs, and does not revisit vehicles that have been on sale for the past few years.

In addition to the Mazda CX-9, Motor Trend evaluated:

  • Buick Enclave
  • Hyundai Veracruz
  • Jeep Liberty
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Land Rover LR2
  • Nissan Rouge
  • Saturn Vue
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Land Cruiser

Sport/Utilities and Crossovers: Here to Stay

MacKenzie noted that this years winner, as last years, demonstrates the car-like refinement and handling that have become common in the sport/utility category. SUVs have evolved well beyond the mere off-roading capabilities they were originally intended for, to the point where only four of this years 11 vehicles come with rock-crawling transmissions. Today, functionality, versatility and a commanding view of the road suit are qualities that American customers demand from sport/utility vehicles.

Make no mistake, the sport utility or crossover is enmeshed in the American psyche, said MacKenzie. Despite concerns over the economy and rising gas prices, more than two million SUVs rolled off dealer lots in the first six months of 2007 alone.

The Mazda CX-9 spins the traditional ute in a new direction, said MacKenzie. Its a sleek, elegant, sophisticated vehicle that is comfortable going to midtown, the market or the mountains.

About the Testing and Evaluation Process

Each year since 1949, the editorial staff of Motor Trend has evaluated eligible vehicles based on three key categories: Superiority, Significance, and Value. Superiority refers to innovation in engineering, technology, design, safety and packaging. Significance levels the playing field and looks for class-leading levels of vehicle dynamics and performance, build quality and execution, and how well the vehicle performs its intended function. Finally, the all-important Value question asks, What does this vehicle deliver in relation to what the consumer has to pay to purchase and own it?

The complete report on the Motor Trend 2007 Sport/Utility of the Year testing and selection will be published in the December issue of MOTOR TREND, available on newsstands November 6, 2007.

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