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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Acceleration is near the top of the class
Peppy once rolling
steering is crisp and exact
affable road manners
Car and Driver
Available in front- or all-wheel drive, the 2008 Mazda CX-7 is the only turbocharged crossover in the Mazda 2008 lineup. While it provides fairly good performance, the CX-7's weight limits its potential, which is reflected in its acceleration, fuel efficiency, and handling.
The 2008 Mazda "comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder only...good for 244 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque," according to Edmunds; it puts the CX-7's acceleration "near the top of the class." ConsumerGuide tested a 2008 Mazda CX-7 AWD Grand Touring and finds "[it] did 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds." Edmunds tested a front-wheel-drive CX-7 and noted the 2008 Mazda CX-7 is "relatively brisk, with zero to sixty taking just 7.7 seconds."
Turbo lag (the time between pressing the accelerator and the turbo spinning up to fully power the engine) is present in the Mazda; 2008 CX-7s, according to ConsumerGuide, "[exhibit] turbo lag [that] is noticeable away from a stop and during around-town passing maneuvers." They add, though, that the 2008 Mazda is "peppy once rolling." Not fond of the engine, Car and Driver remarks, "We quickly grew annoyed with the turbocharged engine, calling it 'thrashy,' 'coarse,' and 'gutless.'"
Mated to the CX-7's engine is the only available transmission: a six-speed automatic. ConsumerGuide finds that "manually shifting the transmission partly offsets the lazy throttle response." In reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, various testers experienced issues with the 2008 Mazda CX-7's transmission behavior. Cars.com's reviewer reports, "When cruising, the transmission would pop down out of sixth gear far too soon, even when I didn't want to pass or accelerate." Car and Driver had an opposite problem in that the transmission "was stingy with downshifts" and "upshifted before we thought necessary (to improve fuel economy, no doubt)."
Most four-cylinder engines return relatively good fuel economy. However, because the 2008 CX-7 is turbocharged and weighs nearly two tons, its fuel economy is "about equal to its V6-powered competitors," says Edmunds. According to fueleconomy.gov, the EPA mileage ratings for the 2008 Mazda CX-7 2WD are 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway; for the AWD model, 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway. In ConsumerGuide testing, "AWD models averaged a disappointing 14.3-14.5 mpg in mostly city driving." There is some good news for those watching their fuel budget (and these days, who isn't?); for the 2008 Mazda CX-7, according to Cars.com, Mazda has "modified the engine to allow it to run on regular gasoline instead of premium without changing performance numbers."
Braking performance is a strong suit of this Mazda. 2008 CX-7s exhibit "fade-free stops from 60 mph of 113 feet," reports Edmunds. "Impressive" is how ConsumerGuide describes it.
Handling and steering on this 2008 Mazda live up to its sporting pretensions. While ConsumerGuide notes the CX-7 "trades some ride comfort for handling," they write it is "agile for an SUV of this size and weight." Edmunds notes the 2008 CX-7 "lives up to the 'soul of a sports car' hype" as its "steering is nicely weighted," and it "feels very stable in turns and changes direction quickly." Car and Driver feels the 2008 CX-7 has "affable road manners," and Edmunds calls it is an "enjoyable drive," even though it "rides a bit firmer than most." ConsumerGuide concurs that the CX-7's ride is "firmer than some might prefer" and points out that "sharp bumps can pound through."
The 2008 Mazda CX-7 won't win stoplight races, but at speed on the road, it’s an enjoyable drive.