The Car Connection Mazda CX-7 Overview
The CX-7’s design changed little from its introduction in 2006 as a 2007 model to the 2012 model year, its final on the U.S. new-vehicle market. Inside and out, the Mazda CX-7 appears aggressive and sporty, with aspects like its steeply raked windshield, large wheels, and bulging fenders and wheel wells looking the part on the outside, while a cockpit-like instrument panel and hooded gauges inside can, at times, lead you to think that you’re driving a sport coupe.
The CX-7 targeted shoppers who might have needed a roomier vehicle, because of a growing family, for instance, but wanted a responsive vehicle that corners well. In repeated drives of the CX-7, we found the CX-7 to steer and handle exceptionally well compared to rival crossovers. Available from the start was a 244-horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine—essentially the same unit that’s been offered in Mazda’s performance-tuned Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6 models—with either front-wheel drive or an all-wheel-drive system that can send up to 50 percent of torque to the front wheels.
Positioned in the market as a more premium, sporty alternative to basic crossover compacts like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, or Toyota RAV4, the CX-7 always was priced a bit higher than those rivals, and sales weren’t as high as Mazda would have hoped. Additionally, fuel economy with the 2.3-liter turbo wasn’t particularly impressive in real-world driving. So for 2010 the automaker rolled out new lower-priced versions of the CX-7 powered by a 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four. The lineup was also separated into ‘i’ and ‘s’ trims, which get the standard engine or the turbo, respectively, but standard-feature content remained quite generous. Although the difference between the engines is remarkable in terms of specs and straight-line acceleration, the 2.5-liter had enough torque to move the CX-7 rapidly in normal driving—and it was considerably more refined than the stronger 2.3.
The CX-7 had excellent front seats and a good driving position, but it didn’t quite live up to its high-utility promises behind the driver’s seat, as its rakish design brought some obvious sacrifices. The backseat could accommodate three in theory, but it proved too tight for three adults and the seating position was very low. The backseats folded to yield 70 inches of flat cargo floor, but the cargo space wasn't very tall—barely enough to move a short love seat. And a loud, boomy ride was an issue in former CX-7 models, though 2010 models got improved insulation and other changes aimed at a more refined feel.
The 2010 model year was the CX-7's final refresh, with the revised model lineup consisting of ‘i’ and ‘s’ models, plus new base SV and affordable Sport models. All models in the lineup except the SV came with standard Bluetooth hands-free calling, and Bluetooth streaming audio was offered. At the top of the line, the Grand Touring came with such premium features as automatic climate control, a moonroof, heated mirrors, HID headlamps, and rain-sensing wipers.
The CX-7 was effectively replaced in the Mazda lineup with the arrival of the CX-5 crossover in the 2013 model year.