By KBB.com Editors
With full-size SUVs falling from public favor, manufacturers are pinning their hopes on crossovers. These crossovers combine 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. One such vehicle is the 2009 Mazda 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 around $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.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're the type who prefers a sport coupe to a station wagon, but the realities of family life mean you need interior space and versatility, the 2009 Mazda CX-7's roomy rear seat, optional all-wheel-drive and seductive good looks present a workable compromise.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2009
For 2009, all trims add an auxiliary input jack. The Grand Touring trims receive an auto-dimming rearview mirror and integrated side mirror turn signals, while heated seats with a power driver's seat are made available on the Sport trim.Driving It 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 than it does a crossover SUV, displaying level cornering, immediate turn-in response and excellent straight-line stability.Favorite Features
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.