Friday Fleet Notes: 04.27.07


This week the staff was behind the wheel of a couple of BMWs and an impressive family hauler. Here’s what they had to say.

2007 BMW Z4

After spending a lot of time lately writing about crossover SUVs, it was nice to get back into a car designed for drivers. The 3.0si is the most powerful non-M version of the Z4 you can get, and its 255-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six sings a sweet song at high rpms. Acceleration isn't fierce, but it's plenty strong if you're looking for an occasional thrill. Our coupe had the six-speed automatic transmission, and its manual mode featured impressive rev-matching on downshifts.

The car is planted and stable through fast corners and the handling is top-notch. The sport seats' aggressively bolstered backrests may be a little narrow for some, but they do a good job of keeping you in place when driving the car hard. For such a small car, the 12-cubic-foot cargo area adds some unexpected practicality.

There are a couple of drawbacks. The super taut sport suspension and low-profile run-flat tires make for a punishing ride on rough roads — even for a sports car. Additionally, if you're much taller than 6' 1", you'll be pushing the limits of the cabin, and over-right-shoulder visibility is significantly compromised by the coupe's large hatch.

  • Mike Hanley, reviewer
By David Thomas | April 27, 2007 | Comments (1)

Hot Deals: New Mazda CX-9, Ford Edge Get Incentives


Most people think of incentives as a way for dealers to get unpopular cars off their lots. Now, automakers are trying to get brand-new models into early adopters’ hands using some attractive financing offers and bonus cash.

The Mazda CX-9 is a large crossover that seats seven yet looks like a sporty SUV. It starts at $29,035 and easily goes up to $40,000 with options. Mazda is offering a lease deal for 39 months with $2,000 down and payments of $349.

Ford will begin offering $500 on the base, SE trim level of the new Ford Edge crossover, even though the vehicle is seeing brisk sales.

[Crossing Over to CX-9, AutoweekFord Offers First Rebates on New Edge Crossover, The Detroit News]

2007 Mazda CX-9 Review
2007 Ford Edge Review

By David Thomas | February 15, 2007 | Comments (1) Reviews the 2007 Mazda CX-9


Mike Hanley got an early look at the all-new Mazda CX-9 crossover recently in Detroit. His review lays out an impressive case for the fun-to-drive seven-seater. The CX-9 joins a quickly improving Mazda lineup that already includes the obviously smaller crossover, the CX-7. The CX-9 has a lot of competition in the rapidly expanding crossover segment, like the Saturn Outlook, so this review comes just in time for shoppers testing out these models just now arriving on dealer lots.

Click here to read the full review.

By David Thomas | February 9, 2007 | Comments (0)

Mazda Lineup Growing, Advertising Not Catching Up


We just finished reading AutoWeek’s story on Mazda’s expanding lineup — moving from seven nameplates to nine in two years and adding six more bodystyles in the same timeframe — and we’re a bit dismayed that the company isn’t planning on expanding ad buying in the same proportions.

Here’s where we dissect some of the industry speak for you. Mazda’s new director of marketing David Klan isn’t planning on highlighting the new CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers over the rest of the lineup despite their positive reviews and brisk sales of the CX-7. He went the understated route, saying “the crossovers are a natural extension of the brand.” Sounds like a politician or losing quarterback who can only say one thing, no matter what the topic is.

The point is the CX-7 and CX-9 are probably the most important vehicles to hit Mazda’s lineup since the Mazda6.

By David Thomas | December 28, 2006 | Comments (5)

Mazda Prices CX-9 Crossover


The first batch of Mazda’s new three-row crossover — the U.S.-only CX-9 — just left Japan, and we just received full pricing for the lineup. The CX-9 will arrive at dealerships early in 2007 and start at $29,035 for a front-wheel-drive Sport model. This is priced competitively with the new Saturn Outlook, which starts at $27,255.

A few years ago, this segment of vehicles was almost nonexistent. Now a number of manufacturers are trying to market these three-row crossovers to large families who want SUV looks and handling with the practicality of minivans. Earlier this year Mazda introduced the two-row CX-7 crossover to positive reviews and brisk sales.

We’re impressed at the $1,200 difference in front- and all-wheel-drive models. Most manufacturers have a price hike of roughly $2,000 for AWD vehicles.

Keep reading for a full list of prices and trim levels for the new CX-9.

By David Thomas | December 13, 2006 | Comments (3)

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