2007 Mazda CX-7 Test Drive
By Chris Haak
My family was in Georgia over the weekend visiting my brother in law, who just leased a new Mazda CX-7. When we had to make a grocery store run, he tossed me the keys and let me drive. It looked great sitting in the driveway, with its 18 inch wheels, silver paint, and stylish, swoopy shape. It is a very attractive vehicle, even better in the metal than in the photos.
The CX-7 has a really slick “switchblade-type” key/fob combination, similar to what VW has had for several years. It looks great and doesn’t stab your leg from inside your pocket. Unfortunately, there is a separate small transmitter for the optional remote start, which seems like an odd solution.
Once inside, the leather driver’s seat was very comfortable. The steering wheel and shift knob were also wrapped in leather, and the shifter had a manumatic function. The CX-7 is equipped with a 244-horsepower turbocharged, direct injection four cylinder engine (the same one found in the Mazdaspeed6 sport sedan) and a six-speed automatic transmission. The instrument panel and door panels are nicely sculpted and seem to be made of quality materials. The optional 240-watt Bose stereo with surround sound sounded great. My only ergonomic complaint is probably a matter of personal preference – I had trouble getting used to the HVAC and stereo display at the back of the dash. I suppose that a driver would be less likely to take his or her eyes off the road for a long period with them at the back of the dash, but it reminded me of the controversial split instrument panel that the Honda Civic employs for its speedometer, which also takes some getting used to. There seemed to be sufficient room in both rows of seats, even when I was in a comfortable driving position (I’m 6’4”), and the cargo area seemed reasonably large for a small-medium crossover.
On the road, the CX-7 always felt much more like a car than a truck, which makes sense since it is built on a car platform. It felt neither ponderous nor top heavy, and had better than expected off-the-line torque. It moved almost V6-like from a stop. I’d never driven a vehicle with a turbo/direct injection combination before, and from what I’ve heard, it’s the hot setup for eliminating much turbo lag. Also, I’m sure that the short first gear permitted by the six-speed automatic helps. The CX-7 seemed a little weaker in the midrange than a typical V6 in the same horsepower neighborhood, but found its groove again in the higher RPMs. In terms of smoothness and NVH, it didn’t feel as good as a Honda four cylinder, and was definitely louder and less refined than a V6. The CX-7 also requires premium fuel, while many non-luxury brand V6s in its price class do not.
As far as pricing, I didn’t ask my brother in law what he paid for his CX-7, but pricing for front wheel drive models like his starts around $25,000 and all wheel drive models starts around $27,000. Start piling on options (leather seats, satellite radio, navigation, Bose, etc.) and you’re looking at low-$30,000s. For comparison, a loaded Hyundai Santa Fe is priced similarly, but includes another $2,000 in standard equipment and a V6 instead of a turbo four. The Cx-7 is significantly less expensive than an Acura RDX, which is similarly sized and configured, but more richly appointed.
I was impressed with the CX-7. It’s probably the crossover to choose if you value style and agility in a family hauler. Depending on your needs, there are alternatives with more interior space (a lower-end GMC Acadia or Saturn Outlook, or a lower-end version of Mazda’s own larger CX-9 come to mind), but few offer the Mazda CX-7’s combination of style, driving fun, and a reasonable price.
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