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2010 Mazda CX-7 Sport Is A Penny-Pincher With Flair

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2010 Mazda CX-7 i Sport

2010 Mazda CX-7 i Sport

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2010 Mazda CX-7 s Grand Touring

2010 Mazda CX-7 s Grand Touring

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - New hood insulation on turbo

2010 Mazda CX-7 - New hood insulation on turbo

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - Strut-tower insulation

2010 Mazda CX-7 - Strut-tower insulation

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - Vents get new bright trim rings

2010 Mazda CX-7 - Vents get new bright trim rings

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - new soft padding for doors

2010 Mazda CX-7 - new soft padding for doors

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - base upholstery more comfortable, but lint-attracting

2010 Mazda CX-7 - base upholstery more comfortable, but lint-attracting

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2010 Mazda CX-7 - base wheels are a similar style but don't fill wheelwells quite as well

2010 Mazda CX-7 - base wheels are a similar style but don't fill wheelwells quite as well

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2010 Mazda CX-7 s Grand Touring

2010 Mazda CX-7 s Grand Touring

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TheCarConnection.com brought you fresh driving impressions of the improved 2010 Mazda CX-7 just this past week. And as part of that report, we were among the first to assess the driving experience in the new, more affordable 2.5-liter CX-7 models designated with an ‘i’—the i SV and i Sport.

Those new models, priced starting at $21,550, are priced significantly lower, and extend the CX-7’s competitive set to vehicles like the Honda CR-V and new four-cylinder 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. Yet you’re getting a vehicle that, quite simply, looks edgier, performance-focused, and upscale. Turns out that even though there's not as much of a right-foot rush, the CX-7 looks and feels nearly as sporty.

Our verdict was that the normally aspirated models, with their 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, will be just fine for most buyers, with plenty of oomph off the line and adequate pep for passing with the standard five-speed automatic. The new base engine is smooth, and less coarse-sounding than many other large fours, plus it’s more fuel-efficient, with EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 28 highway. The major downside is that the base ‘i’ models aren’t offered with all-wheel drive, Bluetooth isn’t available on the base SV (our pick is the affordable i Sport, which has it), and Mazda has packaged them so that you can’t get leather with the more economical engine.

The uplevel ‘s’ Touring and Grand Touring models of the 2010 Mazda CX-7 come with the engine that first launched in the CX-7 back for 2007. It’s a feisty, torquey powerplant and makes 90 percent of its peak torque from 2,000 rpm all the way up, so downshifts aren’t always needed and there’s less turbo lag than with most turbocharged engines; overall, it’s more pleasant than in the 2010 MazdaSpeed3, where it’s tuned more aggressively. The tradeoff with the turbo models, up until now, is that the engine is quite coarse, especially under acceleration, and fuel economy isn’t great. TheCarConnection.com averaged about 17 mpg in mixed driving with a 2008 CX-7.

But Mazda hasn’t left the so-called DISI (direct-injected) 2.3-liter turbo four completely alone. Through some engineering magic, they’ve improved combustion in the high-performance engine to improve fuel economy by a very significant two miles per gallon on the highway—to 18 mpg city, 25 highway—and they’ve added a thick layer of hood padding along with strut-tower insulation to help quell engine noise and road harshness. In addition, all 2010 CX-7 models get improved insulation—most notably in the lower door area—to reduce cabin noise and lend a more refined feel.

To complement the more serene cabin, Mazda has worked, subtly, on the CX-7 interior to give it a more upscale look and feel for 2010. The CX-7’s instrument panel gets thin, bright trim rings around the vents, along with slightly retouched dash contours, a reconfigured center console, new upholstery, a new dash surface that’s less likely to gather dust, and a new steering-wheel design with a wider range of buttons for the sound system and Bluetooth.

For the complete story, including the pros, the cons, a gallery of images, and how the new CX-7 models match up against other compact crossover vehicles, be sure to check out TheCarConnection.com’s fully revised Full Review and Bottom Line covering the 2010 Mazda CX-7, just posted today.

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Comment (1)
  1. @Thom/Jeff, I'm not sure that you actually read the above (and are just looking for an excuse to link to...um...what you did, LOL). In the post above I see "will be just fine for most buyers, with plenty of oomph off the line and adequate pep for passing," and that sounds to me like we also think it has plenty of power on the highway. Please read our full review which is linked to above, then kindly tell me what other sources do better.
     
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