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

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MOTOR TREND (http://www.motortrend.com) today announced the Mazda CX-9 is MOTOR TREND's 2008 Sport/Utility of the Year(TM).

It's a sleek, elegant, sophisticated vehicle that is comfortable going to midtown, the market or the mountains.

    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 year's field, while smaller than last year's, includes significant new entries, including the best Buick in decades--"not just the best Buick SUV, but the best Buick, period"--and a Hyundai that may have car buyers think twice about Lexus.

Mazda's 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 crossover--a 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 TREND's 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 year's crop of new SUV's, 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:

Sport/Utilities and Crossovers: Here to Stay

MacKenzie noted that this year's winner, as last year's, 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 year's 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. "It's 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. High-resolution images of the winner are available upon request and at http://www.motortrend.com/media. Multimedia coverage of the testing and selection process will be broadcast on MOTOR TREND Radio, hosted by Bob Long.

About MOTOR TREND

MOTOR TREND (http://www.motortrend.com) , part of Source Interlink Media, was founded in 1949 and has a circulation of 1.1 million and a total readership of 7.1 million. Internationally recognized as one of the leading brands in automotive publishing, MOTOR TREND comprises Motor Trend Magazine; motortrend.com; Motor Trend Radio; Truck Trend; Motor Trend International Auto Shows; Motor Trend en Espanol; and the renowned Motor Trend Car, Sport/Utility and Truck of the Year Awards program. Source Interlink Media is a division of Source Interlink Companies, Inc., (NASDAQ: SORC), a media and marketing services company. Source Interlink (http://www.sourceinterlink.com) is one of the largest publishers of magazines and online content for enthusiast audiences and a leading distributor of home entertainment products, including DVDs, music CDs, magazines, games, books and related items.

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