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2012 Mazda CX-7

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2012 Mazda CX-7 Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/29/2011


While most Sport Utility Vehicles, or SUVS, place the emphasis on utility, the Mazda CX-7 gives equal time to the "sport" part of the SUV equation. The 2012 Mazda CX-7 SUV is admittedly getting a bit old, but its styling is holding up well, and its still strikes us as one of the nicer crossover SUVs in the mid-size field. With its 5-passenger seating, the Mazda CX-7 can't compete with other SUVs that offer a third-row seat, but its big brother, the CX-9, has that base covered. With the CX-7, you have a sporty crossover with exceptionally good handling, an elegant and refined interior and an available 244-horsepower turbocharged engine that helps the CX-7 live up to is Mazda pedigree.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love the feeling of a performance-oriented sedan, but you need the space, ground clearance and all-wheel-drive (AWD) capability of an SUV, the 2012 Mazda CX-7 deserves a test drive.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need room for six or more people, the 2012 Mazda CX-7 won't fit your needs. While the base model's naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine helps move the price down and the fuel economy up, it doesn't do much to move the CX-7 SUV quickly.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mazda CX-7 SUV moves into the 2012 with no major changes.

Driving It Driving Impressions

To make a sport utility vehicle ride and handle like a low-slung sport sedan takes a bit of tweaking in both the engine and suspension department. In the case of the 2012 CX-7 SUV, Mazda engineers have accomplished their goals without sacrificing ride comfort or a quiet cabin. When equipped with the 161-horsepower engine, the CX-7's driving experience is still fun, if not fast. It's the 244-horsepower turbocharged engine, however, that makes the Mazda CX-7 a blast to drive. The turbo engine delivers 90 percent of its peak toque at very low engine speeds, providing great acceleration from rest and when merging into fast-moving traffic. Better yet, the turbo runs on regular gas, a bonus for high-performance fans.

Favorite Features

Folding Rear Seats
The 2012 Mazda CX-7's 60/40-split folding rear seats can be lowered via a remote release located at the rear of the cargo hold. The seatbacks fold flat without the need to remove the headrests.

Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System
With the key fob-shaped remote securely in one's pocket or purse, the CX-7's doors can be unlocked simply by approaching the vehicle.

Vehicle Details Interior

If you had to pick one area where Mazda products truly outpace their competitions, we'd have to pick interior design. In the case of the 2012 Mazda CX-7 SUV's, that interior would be a highly functional, meticulously-assembled grouping of high-quality plastics shaped into handsome, streamlined forms. Attractive orange and orange with blue backlighting brings the CX-7's dash to life, and you'll appreciate the well-placed stalk and steering wheel-mounted fingertip controls. We don't particularly care for the small display screen containing readouts for the ventilation and audio, as well as the equally-small navigation screen that doubles as the rear backup camera display. The CX-7's seats are excellent, with good long distance comfort and handsome coverings of cloth or leather. Rear-seat passengers enjoy ample room and even tall passengers will find much to like. Cargo space can be increased by folding the rear seats flat, a chore made all the simpler by a set of easy-to-reach release levers located near the hatchback opening.

Exterior

Examining the 2012 Mazda CX-7's exterior reveals an SUV that has more sports car-like styling cues (many of them lifted from the now-deceased RX-8) than trendy truck overtures. The CX-7's front wheels are moved as far forward as they can go, covered by bugling fender flares and an RX-8-inspired hood design. The curves continue as the eyes move rearward, making us conclude this SUV looks like it would much rather be tearing up a twisting back road than picking up the kids from school. Setting the 2012 Mazda CX-7 SUV apart from its truck-like counterparts is its 66-degree angled windshield and racy 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels that further emphasis the vehicle's sporting intentions

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2012 Mazda CX-7 SUV is offered in five trim levels. The i SV, i Sport, and i Touring models feature a 161-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The s Touring and s Grand Touring are fitted with a 244-horsepower, turbocharged engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Both automatics feature a manual-shift mode. The base i SV model includes power windows, power door locks, 17-inch wheels and cruise control. The base i SV sound system is an AM/FM stereo with single MP3-compatible CD player and auxiliary audio input jack. All models except the i SV include Bluetooth. The s Touring model gains 18-inch wheels, leather seating, a power adjustable driver's seat and a retractable cargo cover. The i Touring model has a Bose audio system, SIRIUS satellite radio, a rear back-up camera and a color Multi-Information Display. The s Grand Touring adds high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, 19-inch wheels, DVD navigation, Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start, and the Blind Spot Monitoring system.

Notable Optional Equipment

Most Mazda CX-7 options are bundled into groups. One such is the Touring Technology Package, which adds a Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System with nine speakers, a 6-disc CD/MP3 changer and a color multi-function LCD screen with rear back-up camera. Stand-alone options include fog lamps, remote engine start, rear back-up camera and a DVD entertainment system.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Mazda CX-7 offers a choice of two engines. The base i SV, i Sport and i Touring use a 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed Sport automatic transmission. The s Touring and s Grand Touring models have a 244-horsepower, 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. Though similar in design to the engine used in the Mazdaspeed3, the CX-7 uses a different turbocharger. This contributes to more power at a lower rpm and makes the engine act like a much larger naturally-aspirated V6. Assisting the smooth transfer of power from the turbocharged engine is a 6-speed automatic transmission that features a manual-shift mode for a more spirited driving experience.

2.5-liter inline-4
161 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
161 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27

2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
244 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (front-wheel drive), 17/21 (AWD)

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2012 Mazda CX-7 i SV starts around $22,000, while the i Sport trim starts closer to $23,000. The turbocharged s Touring model starts around $27,000, with all-wheel drive adding another $1,800 to the bottom line. A fully-loaded s Grand Touring model tops out around $38,000. A look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price will show real-world transaction prices paid for the 2012 Mazda CX-7 in your area. The CX-7 is expected to retain a strong resale value and should be on par with the Ford Edge but well below the smaller Honda CR-V.

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