New Mazda CX-9 lights the way with class-exclusive standard LED lighting

(May 29, 2016) When is a headlight more than just a headlight? When it pierces through the night, letting oncoming traffic know exactly what you’re driving without having to see any other part of the vehicle. When it’s as much a status symbol as it is a safety system. And when it comes equipped on the 2016 Mazda CX-9, the only non-luxury midsize, three-row crossover SUV with standard LED headlights and tail lights.

With its signature lighting, CX-9 carries a sense of presence usually reserved for much more expensive vehicles. Its high-tech LED lighting has the added benefit of greater visibility and more even light distribution than previous-generation systems, too.

Mazda says that as with all of the SKYACTIV-generation vehicles, the 2016 CX-9 was created using “Monotsukuri Innovation” — bundled planning with each design and engineering departments working alongside market research to create their ideal family crossover.

“From a design perspective, the LED lights allowed for a slim contouring of the lamps demonstrating the appropriate stealth attitude of the front fascia,” said Julien Montousse, director of design, MNAO. “The LED connection to our light-up ‘Signature Wing’ from the grille widens into a five-point shield — a look that clearly signifies CX-9 as taking Mazda upmarket.”

From an engineering perspective, CX-9’s low-beam headlights produce 900 lumens per unit — about twice the output of a comparable halogen headlight. Overall, CX-9’s headlights are about 35-percent brighter than a standard halogen unit and can throw light 10-percent farther than a comparable xenon HID unit.

Because of the LED headlight’s versatility, engineers were able to package both low- and high-beam lights in a single housing for a clean look. Additionally, LED headlights run cooler than either halogen or xenon headlights, offering what is expected to be greater long-term durability.

“LED lights are a perfect marriage of form and function, allowing Mazda’s designers greater creativity and our engineers more space underneath the sheetmetal to lower vehicle weight and strengthen vehicle body structures,” said Kelvin Hiraishi, director of engineering, MNAO. “Best of all, they provide drivers real, tangible benefits that customers can see and use.”

Under Mazda Corporation’s safety philosophy, LED headlights were seen as a solution toward reaching an ideal amount of light — illuminating the road as if it were daylight outside.

LED tail lights work in similar fashion, lighting up quicker than traditional halogen bulbs in emergency situations as to help prevent rear-end collisions.

Not limited to the exterior of CX-9, Grand Touring and Signature models feature all-LED interior lighting, including overhead and accent lights that complement CX-9’s horizontally swept door and dashboard panels.

“People could drive any ordinary crossover for years and never fall in love with it,” said Montousse. “With CX-9, we wanted to create more than just a family vehicle; we wanted to create an experience. Every time you get behind the wheel, from the Nappa leather and rosewood details to the white glow of its lighting, we wanted to make drivers and passengers feel special. I believe we succeeded.”

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is on sale now with a starting price of $32,420 including destination charge.