By KBB.com Editors
With the full-size Sport Utility Vehicle beginning to fall from public favor, many manufacturers are pinning their hopes on a new class of SUV, commonly referred to as the crossover. The crossover combines the ride and handling of a car with the high seating position and spacious cargo hold of a large SUV, but without the larger vehicle's penalties for fuel economy and maneuverability. The latest crossover to enter the market is Mazda's CX-7, a sleek, five-passenger SUV with the heart of a sports car. Designed to evoke the same sporty image as Mazda's flagship performance coupe, the RX-8, the CX-7 may be the sportiest crossover you can buy for under $25,000. Although the CX-7's turbocharged four-cylinder engine may be a radical departure for those accustomed to a big V8, we think consumers will quickly warm up to its powerful performance and reasonable fuel consumption.
If you're the type who prefers a sport coupe to a station wagon, but the realities of family life negate owning an MX-5, the CX-7's roomy rear seat, optional all-wheel drive and seductive good looks present a workable compromise.
Those who require seating for seven or the ability to tow more than 2000 pounds won't be enthusiastic about the CX-7. Drivers accustomed to a permanently-engaged four-wheel-drive system may not warm to the CX-7's Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system that engages only when the front tires slip.
Without a single midsize or full-size SUV in its lineup, the CX-7 is an important vehicle for Mazda. The success or failure of the CX-7 will indicate the public's willingness to abandon fuel-thirsty trucks for more efficient (and fun to drive) forms of transportation, such as the upcoming seven-passenger Mazda CX-9.
Driving Impressions While Mazda's "zoom-zoom" driving experience may be easily blended into a small sports car, doing so with a five-passenger crossover SUV is quite another story. Fortunately, this one has a...happy ending as the CX-7 excels in the areas of handling, braking, acceleration and overall ride comfort. The all-aluminum 2.3-liter turbocharged engine is powerful enough to move the CX-7 with ease, delivering 90 percent of its power in the 2000-2500 rpm range. More importantly, the engine's lightweight construction places less weight over the front wheels, helping improve steering response and maneuverability as well as creating a more evenly balanced chassis. From behind the wheel, the CX-7 feels more like the Mazda6 Sport Wagon than it does a crossover SUV, displaying level cornering, immediate turn-in response and excellent straight-line stability.
Folding Rear Seats
The CX-7's 60/40 split folding rear seats can be lowered via a spring-loaded release located at the rear of the cargo hold. The seatbacks are designed to fold flat without needing to remove the adjustable headrests.
Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System
With the card-shaped remote securely in one's pocket or purse, the CX-7's doors can be unlocked simply by approaching the vehicle.
Mazda is known for its high-quality interiors and the CX-7 is no exception. A tasteful blend of textured black plastic and chrome surrounds make up the instrument cluster and center console, while the optional beige leather seating creates a striking contrast. The broad dashboard features a hooded crease that parallels the base of the windshield, beneath which resides a glowing orange display for the audio and heating readouts. A sporty three-spoke steering wheel borrowed from the MX-5 roadster is an unexpected treat, and the comfortable front bucket seats offer excellent support for spirited driving. An easy-to-reach lever located in the cargo area activates the spring-loaded rear-seat backs, allowing them to be folded flat without having to make a long and awkward reach.Exterior
The CX-7 is not your father's chunky SUV. With a windshield fixed at a sleek 66-degree angle, front wheels pushed far forward and an RX-8-inspired hood and front fenders, the CX-7 looks almost as though it was built to race rather than commute. Strong character lines sweep from the front A-pillars to the familiar Mazda five-point grille, while bulging wheel flairs combined with a gently rising beltline help accentuate the CX-7's sports car-like nature. Subtle touches, such as the blacked-out lower air intake, chrome door handles and large round dual exhaust tailpipes further separate the CX-7 from more traditionally-styled crossovers. Bolstering the CX-7's "zoom-zoom" attitude are handsome 18-inch wheels, which Mazda includes as standard equipment on all three trim levels.
The CX-7 comes in three trim levels outfitted with the same 2.3-liter, turbocharged engine and six-speed Sport automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Base models include manual air-conditioning, power windows, power door locks, 18-inch wheels, front side-impact and front and rear head-curtain airbags, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with single CD, anti-lock brakes, traction control and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The Touring model gains leather seating, a power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats and a retractable cargo cover. The Grand Touring adds high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, automatic climate control, body-colored mirrors, chrome door handles and fog lamps.
Most options are bundled into groups, such as the Technology Package that adds DVD-based navigation, a rear backup camera, a Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System with nine speakers and a six-disc CD/MP3 changer, a power moonroof and Mazda's Advanced Keyless Entry and Start. A less expensive Sun and Sound package includes just the moonroof and Bose audio system. Stand-alone options include a power driver's seat, fog lamps, six-disc CD/MP3 changer, remote engine start, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and a retractable cargo cover.
The CX-7 is powered by a 244-horsepower, 2.3-liter intercooled and turbocharged Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) engine. Though similar in design to the engine used in the MAZDASPEED6, the CX-7's uses a different turbocharger with a smaller turbine inlet. This design permits more power to be produced at a lower rpm, creating a more linear acceleration curve comparable to one produced by a larger, normally-aspirated V6. In fact, the CX-7's 2.3-liter powerplant displays none of the characteristics inherent with turbocharging, showing no noticeable rush of power as the turbo builds boost with essentially imperceptible turbo lag. Assisting the smooth transfer of power is a six-speed Sport automatic transmission featuring a manual shift mode for a more spirited driving experience.
2.3-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
244 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 (FWD), 18/24 (AWD)
By Lizz on Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,091overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth drive, comfortable, stylish"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this vehicle used at 50k miles around a week ago. I am very impressed with the control and smooth drive of the vehicle. I strongly wanted to get another Nissan Murano, but decided to go with the CX7 and have no regrets! I am pleased with the gas mileage. I do not drive many miles on a daily bases and have only 1 child to tote around. It is perfect for our lifestyle. The seats are also noticeably comfortable. I am 6'1 so seating space is very important. A tall-friendly ride!"
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By dkmdp on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "styling, value, reliabile (non turbo version)"
Cons: "dead pedal for left foot could be a bit closer"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I would like to have gotten power seats. But gets about 27-28 mpg all day long highway avg, around town I get an average of about 24-25. I like the satellite radio, and Bluetooth options installed on the car. My beef is that Mazdas tend not to hold value as well as Toyota or Honda. at the rate I have driven my car, the miles are killing my value! I do like the styling and it has gone pretty good in the snow too,"
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Doug on Sunday, August 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Excellent car, never owned a Mazda before, but would definitely buy one again. The only drawback, is the mileage was not as great as I had hoped gets about 22 miles to the gallon..... but other than that, very reliable and nice car. :)"
5 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Snuff on Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "body style, comfort, happy gas mileage"
Cons: "pearl paint tough touch-up, leather not very soft"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Went to the Honda/Mazda dealer thinking Honda was the way to go, but after driving the CX we were impressed with its more carlike feel combined with SUV cargo space. The paint quality and fit of parts is very good, and who would have believed those skinny environmental tires would produce over 30MPG highway, BETTER than the EPA rating! The only gripe we've had is the slight occasional bog/lag when turning left, dealer says fairly common and not very fixable on the 4-cyl engine."
6 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Liz on Monday, June 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sleek, comfortable, reliable"
Cons: "Mediocre gas mileage, HORRIBLE blind spots"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I bought my CX-7 Grand Touring used (40,000 miles) and have had no problems with reliability thus far. The gas mileage is good, not great, for what it is, but the car is insanely comfortable. It might be a little loud, but otherwise this is a great car if you do a lot of long-distance highway driving. However, I have noticed that the blind spots are HORRIBLE. The design of the car is very sleek, but some of that comes from forfeiting visibility, especially around the corners of the car. Although I love my CX-7, I don't think I would get another one specifically because of how bad the blind spots are."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Rick on Tuesday, May 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "excellent cost, comfortable driving, 3rd row handy"
Cons: "no center consol, improve on front storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"some road noise at high speeds, avg. GPM 24/?? no trips yet. Leather interior not factory but professionally installed before pickup from dealer . door slots work but could have been longer for envelope to store insurance and registration (for example). Rear storage excellent, even more than had in Tribute (great for wheelchair)."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful