Just-released EPA figures show the fully redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9 SUV has become the highest-rated 3-row/non-hybrid midsize SUV sold in the U.S. While the automaker originally expected EPA numbers on this

new SkyActiv-spec CX-9 to rise by roughly 20 percent compared to its 2015 predecessor, the final figures showed a more dramatic 32-percent bump. The bulk of that gain comes from Mazda’s focused efforts to jettison all unnecessary mass from the CX-9’s lightweight structure -- an undertaking that trimmed 198 pounds from the FWD model and 287 pounds from the AWD variant.

Also: Class of 2016 -- New Cars Ready to Roll

Matching Mazda’s new SkyActiv 2.5T 2.5-liter turbocharged gas engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the front-drive 2016 CX-9 earns 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. The first and last of those numbers are sufficient to move it the head of the class. Opt for a CX-9 with Mazda’s highly efficient predictive i-Activ all-wheel drive and the relative ratings dip slightly to 21/27/23 mpg. The 2016 Mazda CX-9 arrives in showrooms this spring with pricing announced later.

More Midsize SUVs…

Check out our Midsize SUV Buyer's Guide for a look at what’s new and what’s next.

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.