All automobiles have trade-offs. No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to get everything you need in one double or triple-box conveyance.
In my household, the accent is always on fun, so a sporting vehicle is likely to make me happy. Yet when I need to carry more items than a couple of grocery sacks, it’s most likely a small, sporty car isn’t going to do the trick.
Thankfully, there are vehicle manufacturers like Mazda, that put plenty of sporting tendencies in everything they make, from the smallest MX-5 Miata to the larger, crossover vehicles like the CX-7.
The Mazda CX-7 first came to market in 2007 and got some visual and mechanical refreshing last fall, just in time for the 2010 selling season. Sporting new, sleeker looks and Mazda’s elevated front wheel well coverings, the CX-7 is a handsome machine that gives even this large, crossover vehicle a bundle of visual sex appeal. It has the new corporate wide-mouth design that debuted on the Mazda3 and lithe body lines (after those front wheel openings) that should be agreeable to the eye for years to come.
With a new base 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 161 horsepower at 6000 rpm and equal torque at 3500, the front-wheel-drive version of the CX-7 has a five-speed manual transmission.
Opt for the Grand Touring model and Mazda upgrades the running gear to a 2.3-liter turbocharged in-line four cylinder of 244 horsepower (at 5000 rpm) and 258 lb-ft of torque at 2500, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions have a manual shift mode available on the floor that is both crisp and quick.
In every model, Mazda fits MacPherson struts at the front and multilink rear suspensions, both with stabilizer bars. The power rack-and-pinion steering has variable assist that inspires confidence on twisty roads with its quickness and direct demeanor. Mazda’s anti-lock brakes, too, are excellent with all-wheel vented discs, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist on all models.
The front-wheel-drive CX-7 rides on P215/70R Bridgestone rubber mounted on 17-inch, 10-spoke alloys. Choose the AWD version and get upgraded to 235/55R Bridgestone tires on articulated 19-inch five-spoke alloys. Both sets of tires are comfortable and appropriate for their respective machines.
The 2010 CX-7 is a mid-size crossover vehicle standing 184.3 inches long, 73.7 inches wide, 64,8 inches tall on a 108.3-inch wheelbase. The front-wheel-drive CX-7 Sport has 8.1 inches of ground clearance while the Grand Touring all-wheel-drive model has 8.2 inches clearance. Both have a turning circle of 37.4 feet. There is quite a weight difference: the FWD model weighs 3496 pounds; the AWD hefts 4001 pounds.
While the FWD Mazda CS-7 tows 1500 pounds, its all-wheel-drive brother totes 2000 pounds. There is also a difference in fuel tank sizes and capabilities: the Sport holds 16.1 gallons and is rated 20/28 on regular fuel; the Grand Touring holds 18.2 gallons, requests premium fuel and is rated at 17/23 mpg. Both figures are pretty accurate, even with a sporting, enthusiastic driver behind the wheel.