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2007 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring AWD Review

Middle Man

A three-quarter front view of a 2007 Mazda CX-7

In short: A sporty, turbocharged mid-size SUV.

The CX-7 is Mazda’s entry into the rapidly expanding selection of small crossover SUVs. It bridges a gap between cheaper, more utilitarian entries like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, and luxury models like the Acura RDX and BMW X3. With a radically raked windshield, RX-8-inspired front fenders and beefy rear haunches, the CX-7 definitely looks like it has what Mazda calls “the soul of a sports car.” That isn’t empty rhetoric either, as this ute offers surprisingly capable handling and a peppy engine that should keep driving enthusiasts happy.

Mazda CX-7 interior Mazda CX-7 tail lamps

The five-seater CX-7 is sized in between the Acura RDX and Nissan Murano (the larger, but similar-looking CX-9 seats seven), and offers comparable interior room to those competitors. The cargo bay is 39 inches wide and 70 inches long, allowing for three golf bags and countless boxes from Costco. The huge, 66-degree windshield and small A-pillar windows create an airy cabin up front, aided by our test car’s attractive cream-color leather seats with their odd pattern strip running down the center.

Our Grand Touring all-wheel drive model came with such optional niceties as a Bose nine-speaker stereo, Sirius satellite radio, heated power seats, tire pressure monitor and a moonroof. A $4,005 technology package with navigation system and rearview parking camera was the lone option missing. In general, the interior design and the materials used are pretty good, but its mixture of alloy-looking plastic and “piano-black” trim could look unfortunate in a few years. Ergonomics are excellent, though, with controls that logically fall into place, while a sporty three-spoke steering wheel sourced from the MX-5 Miata looks and feels great.

Mazda CX-7 wheel Mazda CX-7 turbocharged four-cylinder engine

Powering the CX-7 is a 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes a healthy 244-horsepower. It is essentially a de-powered version of the turbo motors found in the Mazdaspeed 3 and 6. Mazda chose the turbo route in an effort to achieve V6-like power with improved fuel economy, but realistically, 21 city, 28 highway is nothing to write Ralph Nader about when the RAV-4’s V6 gets better fuel economy and makes 25 more horses. Also, unlike the RDX’s turbo, the Mazda unit is prone to turbolag, or the delay between pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger’s extra power kicking in. This is particularly aggravating (and neck snapping) when accelerating out of corners, when the turbo conspires with the slow-to-downshift six-speed automatic. The expected 258 pounds-feet of torque seem to take forever to surface, and by the time they finally do, you’ve been lulled into a false sense of sluggishness. Even if you don’t drive with a lead foot, you’ll notice the perpetual delayed blasts of power.

For those who desire sedan-like handling but need/want an SUV, the CX-7 won’t disappoint with nicely weighted steering and wide body that resists roll in turns. Some won’t like the rather firm ride, but it does make the CX-7 feel much sportier than other small SUVs in its price range. Optional all-wheel drive further plants it to the road.

If you find utes like the Toyota RAV-4 not sporty enough and entry-level luxury models like the RDX too expensive, the Mazda CX-7 could provide that Goldilocks “just right” you’ve been looking for.

Mazda CX-7

Read a review of the 2010 Mazda CX-7 i Sport FWD

Warranty/Service: 48-month/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty; 24-hour roadside assistance, loaner car program.

Base Price: $23,750 / As tested: $30,660

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door SUV

Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
Horsepower: 244 bhp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 3,929 lbs
Wheelbase: 108.3 in
Length/Width/Height: 184/73.7/64.8 in
Turning circle: 37.4 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
independent front and rear
Traction: all-wheel drive, traction control, vehicle stability control

0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
Top Speed: 117 mph (governed)

EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 24 mpg

Likes: responsive handling; sporty looks inside and out; attractive price

Dislikes: turbo-lag engine; disappointing fuel economy

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(Updated: 05/19/10 NW)

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