2011 Mazda CX-7 Performance

8.0
Performance
Beginning this past year, the CX-7 is offered in more economical 'i' models, with a 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission, in addition to the 's' models, which still come with 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.

While the turbo engine in 's' models better suits the CX-7's racy image, the 2.5-liter is just fine for most needs. 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. The base model is plenty fast in most situations, and only feels slightly taxed with a full load.

No matter which model, those who enjoy driving will be surprised at how well the CX-7 handles, given its height. 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.

The 2011 Mazda CX-7 is more enjoyable to drive than most crossover wagons—even in base 'i' form.

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