- Bargain price
- Overtly sporty design
- Crisp, responsive steering and handling
- Good passive and active safety
- Back-seat isn’t very roomy
- Usable cargo space is deceptively small
- Engine noise can be too prominent
- Coarse road surfaces bring a lot of road noise
The 2008 Mazda CX-7 is a good choice for single folks or couples who might not prioritize backseat or cargo space but want sport-sedan performance with a lot more utility.
The 2008 Mazda CX-7 is Mazda's five-passenger, mid-size crossover vehicle. The CX-7 was all-new for 2007 and is defined by a steeply raked (66-degree incline) front glass; a curvaceous, aggressively styled exterior; and a sport-tuned drivetrain and suspension.
Power matches the outward image that the 2008 Mazda CX-7 projects; it comes with a standard 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection (DISI) engine developing 244 horsepower, driving through the front wheels or a full-time all-wheel-drive system. It is very similar to the engine used in the now-defunct MazdaSpeed6 sport sedan, and it's intended to provide a similar high-performance driving experience in a vehicle with greater versatility and more room. For 2008, the CX-7 no longer requires the use of premium fuel, though it is still recommended.
The CX-7's engine can be coarse when you're taking advantage of all its power, and it's not as smooth as rival vehicles' engines. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but it allows easy manual control of the gears--helpful when driving enthusiastically or on mountain roads. In Drive, the transmission is very responsive, but upshifts can be somewhat harsh. Crisp handling and impressive grip help take advantage of the turbocharged engine's power, and the 2008 Mazda CX-7 corners quite flat, considering it's a rather tall crossover utility vehicle weighing nearly 4,000 pounds. Ride quality is mostly smooth, but larger bumps can be jarring, and coarse road surfaces make the interior uncommonly noisy.
Inside, the CX-7's interior is styled more like the cockpit of a sports coupe than an SUV. Good front seats allow plenty of space and hold you in place, but behind them, the 2008 Mazda CX-7 has a disappointing expanse. There's no third row, but the second row is smaller than most would expect from a mid-size ute--especially in legroom. Fold down the backseats and there's 70 inches of flat floor space for cargo, although the sloping roofline, rakish hatch, and tall loading height don't make the cargo area tremendously roomy or convenient. The cargo floor can be flipped over to a washable surface for carrying dirty items.
Think of the 2008 Mazda CX-7 as a coupe with a lot of extra utility, and that's closer to the mark. The CX-7 has plenty of storage places in front, including an oversize center console storage area that can take a laptop computer. The wide console area may interfere with knee room for some taller drivers, though.
Three trim levels are available on the 2008 Mazda CX-7: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, and cruise control are standard across the line. Top Grand Touring models include xenon headlamps, fog lamps, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and electroluminescent gauges. The options list is extensive, including a touch-screen DVD-based navigation system, a premium Centerpoint surround sound audio system, remote engine start, a moonroof, and Sirius Satellite Radio. No Bluetooth hands-free interface is available, though.
Safety equipment on the 2008 Mazda CX-7 includes front side airbags, side curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control--all par for the course in the CX-7's class of vehicles. A well-designed structure, along with these features, has brought impressive crash-test results, with top five-star ratings in frontal and side impact protection from the federal government, along with top Good ratings from the IIHS in frontal and side impact tests, though a Marginal rating in the seat-based rear-impact test kept it from getting top marks across the board.