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Mazda CX-9 Will Stop Smiling in 2013

Mazda unveiled a refreshed 2013 CX-9 yesterday ahead of its official debut at the Australian Auto Show next month. One of the most obvious updates is the addition of the company’s now-signature five-point grill, which is also found on the upcoming 2013 Mazda 6 and the CX-5.

The cabin will also be updated, and Mazda says in a press release (registration required) that it will equip the 2013 CX-9 with an upgraded infotainment system and voice command system. Safety features like lane departure warning, forward obstruction warning and high beam control will also be available.

Car and Driver seems pleased with the updates, saying the new look helps “the aging rig look fresh.” The CX-9 has been largely unchanged since it debuted in the U.S. in 2007.

Mazda says that the 2013 Mazda CX-9 will carry over its 3.7-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. Kicking Tires says that fuel economy and horsepower ratings “might be slightly different for the U.S.,” noting that the model’s current fuel economy, which is 17/24 mpg city/highway at best, could be better.

In our rankings, the current CX-9 ranks fourth among affordable midsize SUVs, but the segment is hotly contested. Three major players, the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, all received updates for 2013. While pricing for the 2013 CX-9 hasn’t yet been announced, the 2012 CX-9 is priced just $65 more than the 2012 Traverse.  The Mazda, unlike the Chevy, comes standard with Bluetooth phone connectivity. However, the Traverse has much more cargo space.

Both the Traverse and 2012 CX-9’s prices are undercut by the 2013 Ford Explorer, which is $855 less than the CX-9. Front-wheel drive versions of the Explorer are available with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine that gets much better gas mileage than the Mazda can manage. The Explorer can also tow up to 1,500 pounds more than the 2012 CX-9, though its total cargo capacity is significantly less.

Mazda hasn’t given a timeline for when the updated CX-9 will hit U.S. dealers.

Shopping for a Mazda CX-9 or another affordable midsize SUV? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. You can also find the best local prices in the area by using our Best Price Program. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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