2010 Mazda CX-7 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 8, 2009

If you want the driving experience of a sports sedan but need the versatility of a wagon, the 2010 Mazda CX-7 remains one of the better choices.

To assemble this cohesive review covering the entire 2010 Mazda CX-7 line—including the new 2.5-liter models—TheCarConnection.com incorporated its firsthand driving impressions in a Bottom Line, then looked outward to other review sources to include a host of other perspectives and insights.

When the CX-7 was first introduced for 2007, it was one of the only small crossover utility vehicles with more rakish styling and an emphasis on sport-sedan-like road performance. Now for 2010 Mazda has expanded the CX-7 line to include a more economical base engine, spruced up the interior, and worked on making the cabin quieter.

The CX-7 retains its aggressive profile, including a 66-degree windshield incline that’s the steepest for any vehicle of its type. Mazda touches up the CX-7’s front and rear details for 2010—including a larger grille and Mazda logo—but the creased sheetmetal, bulging fenders and wheel wells, and low, sleek hoodline remain mostly unchanged. Inside, the CX-7’s interior continues the feel of part sport sedan, part utility vehicle. The instrument panel has a thin upper shelf that hosts audio and climate-control displays up in the driver’s line of vision. Next to it, there’s a new monochromatic trip computer or color nav screen. Hooded gauges and a new steering wheel design with controls for audio and Bluetooth calling functions complete the performance feel, while subtle new brightwork around the vents adds more visual panache.

The 2010 CX-7 lineup is now split into "i" and "s" models. The "i" models feature a new 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed automatic transmission. Standard on "s" models is a 244-horsepower, turbocharged direct-injected 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The "i" comes in front-wheel drive only, while the "s" models can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.

Review continues below

Overall, shoppers will find the 2.5 adequate for most needs, but for those who buy the 2010 Mazda CX-7 with its sporty image in mind, the turbo engine better fits the appearance. During normal driving, the 2.3-liter turbo engine accelerates the CX-7 almost effortlessly; downshifts aren't always necessary as 90 percent of peak torque is achieved from 2,000 rpm all the way up to 5,000 rpm. However, the trade-off is a slightly coarser sound versus the 2.5. Both engines are reasonably fuel-efficient. The base engine returns 20 mpg city, 28 highway; the turbocharged engine has improved fuel economy for 2010—up to 18 mpg city, 25 highway—and it’s been retuned to accept regular gas.

Across the board, the CX-7 isn’t going to disappoint those who enjoy driving, and most will be surprised at how well such a tall vehicle can handle. The CX-7 is hard to fluster, even around tight corners, and although its steering feel isn’t quite as nicely weighted and direct as the Mazda5 (a minivan!), it’s a joy to hustle through the curves.

Limited legroom for backseat passengers and a rather small cargo area (compared to other utility vehicles) are the downsides of an otherwise pleasant and functional interior. Front seats are wide yet quite firm and supportive in the 2010 Mazda CX-7, and the driving position affords a good view ahead (although there’s a substantial blind spot and difficult rear vision when parking). There are several smaller cubbies, and center console compartments have been reconfigured to be more useful. The story is less delightful in back, where there’s barely enough width to fit three across; adults will find plenty of headroom, but the low position leaves knees elevated and a general shortage of legroom. Folding the backseats forward yields 70 inches of flat cargo floor; it’s not very tall, but enough to move a coffee table or love seat.

For 2010, all Mazda CX-7 models get improved sound insulation. New lower-door insulation is included throughout the CX-7 line, while models with the turbocharged engine have additional hood padding and strut-tower insulation to help keep both engine and road noise under wraps. We used to call the CX-7 one of the noisiest vehicles in its class; it’s still not the quietest, but this aspect is no longer a deal-breaker. The CX-7 feels well put-together, and Mazda upgrades seat materials for 2010 and moves to a different plastic for the instrument panel and door panels that’s less likely to attract dust.

Safety features on the 2010 Mazda CX-7 include standard electronic stability control on all models, plus anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, and side-curtain bags covering both rows. The underlying structure is carried over, and the 2009 CX-7 gets top five-star ratings in federal NCAP tests along with mostly "good" results from the IIHS, except for a "marginal" rating in the rear-impact category. TheCarConnection.com plans to update you on ratings for 2010.

The lower-priced 2010 Mazda CX-7 models don't look much different from the turbocharged ones; the base SV and Sport get 17-inch alloy wheels instead of 18- and 19-inch designs, and turbocharged Touring and Grand Touring models pick up other detail extras like turn-signal-integrated mirrors and chrome-finish door handles. Inside, Touring models add leather upholstery, which isn’t available in "i" models. Top Grand Touring trims include automatic climate control, a SmartKey entry system, a moonroof, heated mirrors, the nav system, rain-sensing wipers, and xenon HID headlamps. All models but the base SV come with a Bluetooth hands-free interface—Bluetooth streaming audio is also offered—and for the first time, the top-of-the-line Grand Touring picks up a Blind Spot Monitoring System. Bose Centerpoint audio is optional.

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2010 Mazda CX-7

Styling

A few new details don’t make the 2010 Mazda CX-7 look much different than before from a distance, but it works better up close and inside.

The Mazda CX-7 lineup returns for 2010 with a moderate makeover that helps unify the CX-7 with the rest of Mazda’s restyled vehicles.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 is a mid-size, five-passenger crossover that Cars.com says “was designed to deliver the utility of a small SUV and the driving experience of a passenger car.” The curvaceous CX-7 undergoes a mid-cycle refresh, and it now features a number of styling changes that Left Lane News feels “bring the small SUV more in line with the rest of Mazda’s freshened lineup.” Autoblog also notes that “Mazda has refined the CX-7 inside-and-out, including a redesigned front end with a larger five-point grille and different front and rear fascias.” Overall, Left Lane News reviewers indicate that the “most noticeable changes include larger side air-intakes, giving the CX-7 a much more aggressive look” that includes a hint of Mazda’s “familiar ‘smiling’ front grille.”

The interior of the 2010 Mazda CX-7 also receives some changes for this year, but it retains the original CX-7’s appealing mix of curves and practicality. ConsumerGuide raves that “the navigation system is easy to program” and points out that the Mazda CX-7’s “gauges are stylish,” although some reviewers “are divided on whether they’re easy to read.” Cars.com thinks drivers shouldn’t have any trouble reading the displays, since the Mazda CX-7 features “a new, larger information display at the base of the windshield.” For those familiar with the current Mazda lineup, Left Lane News says that the current LCD on the Mazda CX-7 is “similar to the one found in the new Mazda3.” Drivers should now be able to keep more of their attention on the road, as ConsumerGuide notes the availability of “standard steering-wheel audio switches” that are a “plus because the main array takes time to learn.”

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2010 Mazda CX-7

Performance

A naturally aspirated engine option makes the 2010 Mazda CX-7 a fuel-efficient, yet still sporty, competitor in the crossover class.

The Mazda CX-7 family has grown significantly this year with the introduction of the CX-7’s first-ever naturally aspirated model. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that this model sacrifices some of Mazda’s signature “zoom-zoom” for a lower base price and increased fuel economy.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 lineup now features two available engines, which Cars.com lists as a base “161-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 161 pounds-feet of torque” and an available “244-hp, 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four with 258 pounds-feet of torque.” The turbocharged model, which carries over from last year, is “peppy once rolling,” according to ConsumerGuide. Unfortunately, the CX-7’s turbocharged engine suffers from “noticeable” turbo lag, according to ConsumerGuide. The naturally aspirated engine on the CX-7’s new base trims is “Mazda’s MZR four-cylinder, which does duty in the 2010 Mazda3 s and the 2009 Mazda6 I,” according to Left Lane News. The engine is significantly more efficient than the turbo, but Car and Driver warns that “if you’re expecting haste, this is not the right setup,” and the 2.5-liter engine offers just “leisurely acceleration.”

The CX-7’s two available engines mate up with one of two available transmissions, which Cars.com lists as a “standard five-speed automatic” on the base model and standard “six-speed auto with [the] turbo engine.” The automatics aren’t particularly noteworthy, although the six-speed does offer a manual-shift feature. ConsumerGuide reviewers find this feature especially useful in overcoming the 2.3-liter’s turbo lag, noting that “manually shifting the automatic transmission partly offsets the lazy throttle response.” The 2010 Mazda CX-7 is also available with either all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, although Car and Driver points out that “all-wheel drive is available only on the turbo models.”

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 lineup is now quite a bit more efficient than the outgoing set of models, thanks to the addition of the lower-output engine on the base models. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2.5-liter engine should return 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while the front-wheel-drive turbo gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. If you opt for all-wheel drive, fuel efficiency drops to 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Overall, ConsumerGuide says that the EPA numbers for the turbo are “disappointing, especially for a 4-cylinder SUV.”

With a revised suspension setup and chassis, the 2010 Mazda CX-7 is now more capable on the road than ever. ConsumerGuide calls the Mazda CX-7 “agile for an SUV of this size and weight, abetted by fine steering and a well-planted feel.” Car and Driver reviewers are equally impressed, noting that “responses are prompt” and the CX-7 “delivers better-than-average road feel.” Another upgrade for the 2010 Mazda CX-7 is its improved ride quality, and Car and Driver says that “the ride quality is a shade better” on the base models. Edmunds, however, does caution that the CX-7 “rides a bit firmer than most” crossovers, although the trade-off is the CX-7’s impressive agility. The 2010 Mazda CX-7 also sports an impressive braking system, and Edmunds reviewers record “fade-free stops from 60 mph of 113 feet.”

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2010 Mazda CX-7

Comfort & Quality

Seating five comfortably might be a stretch, but the 2010 Mazda CX-7 does benefit from a marked improvement in overall quality.

The restyled 2010 Mazda CX-7 arrives on dealer lots with essentially the same overall package as last year’s model, but with some significant improvements in cabin refinement. While the story’s still not perfect for the rear passengers, Mazda definitely takes a step forward with the new CX-7.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2010 Mazda CX-7 is a five-seat crossover with “abundant legroom for all,” in the words of ConsumerGuide. They continue in their praise of the new CX-7, noting that the front “seats are well-bolstered,” and Cars.com mentions that “passenger space is comparable to its competitors.” TheCarConnection.com’s own editors find that the front seats are wide, firm, and supportive, a winning combination for a long-distance cruiser. Unfortunately, while the CX-7 has grown compared to last year, ConsumerGuide says “legroom is tight” in the rear seats.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 is moderately practical, offering enough cargo space to move small furniture or transport a week’s worth of camping gear without much trouble. ConsumerGuide notes that the CX-7 “beats most like-sized SUVs for space behind the rear seat,” although “total space is small by class standards.” Cars.com provides some hard numbers, stating that, “with the rear seats up, cargo volume is 29.9 cubic feet, and with the seats down cargo volume expands to 58.6 cubic feet.” Inside the cabin, ConsumerGuide says you will find a “laptop-size center console bin and integral door cupholders,” along with numerous smaller cubbies that provide a useful amount of storage space.

One of the biggest improvements in the 2010 Mazda CX-7 comes in interior quality, although reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal that Mazda still hasn’t brought the CX-7 up to the top of the class. Left Lane News reviewers are pleasantly surprised to find that the “interior materials are upgraded throughout,” but ConsumerGuide notes that the overall décor is “let down by a few budget-grade plastics and unconvincing silver paint that passes for metal accents.” Overall, however, Car and Driver reviewers like that the new CX-7 offers “higher quality materials,” which help justify the CX-7’s price premium over some of its competitors.

Mazda’s engineers also focused on reducing wind noise inside the 2010 Mazda CX-7, and early indications are that they’ve been successful. ConsumerGuide reports that “engine and wind noise are modest in routine cruising,” and Cars.com attributes that to the fact that the crossover’s “body has been enhanced to increase rigidity and lower wind and other noise.”

9

2010 Mazda CX-7

Safety

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 offers good occupant protection, while it has a number of features and attributes that may help avoid a crash in the first place.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 is a safety-first, family-oriented vehicle, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the CX-7 doesn’t disappoint in this category.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 carries over structurally from 2009, so crash-test results should be comparable to those of the previous version. NHTSA’s tests show that the CX-7 is remarkably crashworthy, and the Mazda crossover scores a perfect five-star rating in frontal and side impact categories. The IIHS has not yet released scores for the 2010 Mazda CX-7, but last year’s model earned the Institute’s highest possible rating, “good,” in both the frontal offset and side impact tests.

A number of desirable family-friendly safety features come standard on the 2010 Mazda CX-7. According to Car and Driver, the 2010 Mazda CX-7 lineup features “stability and traction control as standard,” and they point out that the CX-7 offers “a blind-spot monitoring system—similar to that on the Mazda 6 and CX-9.” Cars.com reviewers add that the CX-7 boasts standard “side-impact and side curtain airbags,” along with “standard antilock braking…with brake assist.” The 2010 Mazda CX-7 also boasts a tire-pressure monitoring system that will alert you if any of your tires becomes dangerously low on air pressure.

Although TheCarConnection.com’s editors, along with many other reviewers, feel that visibility is impaired in the CX-7, ConsumerGuide reports that, “despite its curvy styling, visibility is quite good all around.” The jury is still out, but another feature that aids visibility is the optional blind-spot monitoring system, which should help keep drivers out of trouble on the highway.

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2010 Mazda CX-7

Features

Although top trims of the 2010 Mazda CX-7 can be had with navigation and an available Bose sound system, the base 2010 Mazda CX-7 i is a strong value.

For the 2010 model year, Mazda increases the CX-7 model line by adding a fourth trim, as well as a new engine type. The price range for the CX-7 now runs from an acceptable $22,300 for a base SV model (including destination fee) up to a base price of $33,635 for a Grand Touring before options are considered.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7 is decently well equipped, even in its base version. Cars.com notes that all Mazda CX-7 models feature “standard keyless entry” and full power accessories, as well as a “4.1-inch color TFT information display,” according to Autoblog. The base sound system on the CX-7 includes a CD player and MP3-compatible interface, as well as an auxiliary jack, while the top-level Touring and Grand Touring models get such niceties as automatic climate control and standard leather seats. Autoblog adds that the 2010 Mazda CX-7 features “Bluetooth for both phones and audio,” although the standard Bluetooth is not available on the base SV trim level.

The automotive press railed against last year’s CX-7 for being overpriced, so for the 2009 Mazda CX-7 Mazda has added more to the options list and kept the standard features intact. The options list is accordingly extensive, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com appreciate the CX-7’s available extras. Cars.com states that some of the options include “heated front seats, an optional power moonroof, and optional nine-speaker Bose audio system.” The Bose system features Centerpoint and comes with Bose’s renowned acoustical engineering. For those prone to losing their way, Mazda now offers a touch-screen, voice-activated navigation system on the CX-7’s upper trims.

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April 28, 2015
2010 Mazda CX-7 FWD 4-Door i Sport

great small suv

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I've had this car New since Jan. 2010 and have had no problems. Looks good and runs good. 5+ years, over 60,000 miles and only oil changes and tire rotations.
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