Then there’s the flip side of the coin, the import approach. Case in point: the 2007 Mazda CX-7, a five-passenger compact SUV that starts at about $24,000 and comes fully loaded for roughly $32,000. More importantly, every CX-7 packs 244 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. And unlike the domestics, this ‘ute offers the power of a big V6 or small V8 with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, yet still achieves an EPA highway rating of 24 mpg. To be fair, there are offerings like the homemade Saturn VUE that offers 250 horsepower and up to 28 mpg on the highway from a Honda V6 and the Chevy Equinox with six cylinders and a whopping 185 horses, neither of which matches the CX-7’s handling prowess. For big, powerful rides that promise efficiency when a corn-based ethanol infrastructure is developed sometime in the future, or a hybrid SUV that no one seems to be buying (Ford can’t Escape that fact), America’s got ya covered. But for a ride large and powerful enough to carry you and three or four friends to the mountains, one that makes its driver opt for the back way instead of the highway, Mazda offers the CX-7.
Our time with the Mazda encompassed hundreds of miles around Washington D.C. and twisty deserted roads in nearby farm country. Two versions were available for driving, the Sport model and the Grand Touring model, both equipped with optional all-wheel-drive and the 2007 CX-7’s funky yet aggressive styling. The whole package is set to arrive at your local dealer by the end of May.
Barring any discounts, getting into a 2007 Mazda CX-7 requires an outlay of at least $24,310. That’s the base price (including a $560 destination charge) of a front-wheel-drive Sport model, which comes with a 244-horsepower turbocharged engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, power windows and door locks, and steering wheel-mounted buttons for the radio and cruise control. Ah, but there’s more, like a tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and keyless entry. All-wheel-drive traction can be added for $1,700, as can a whole host of options like a power moonroof, a Bose Centerpoint sound system with 240-watts and a six-disc CD changer, a navigation system with voice-activated controls and rear parking camera, various cargo trays and covers, remote ignition, Sirius satellite radio, and a tow package.
Moving up to the Touring model, starting at $26,060, adds power heated rearview mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a retractable cargo cover, leather upholstery, and front power heated seats. Options for the CX-7 Touring trim mirror those for the Sport.
For the ultimate Mazda CX-7, shoppers will want to consider the Grand Touring version that stickers for $26,860. With it come all of the features found on the Sport and Touring models as well as automatic high-intensity discharge headlights, fog lights, chrome door handles, body-color mirrors, electroluminescent gauges, an outside temperature gauge, automatic climate control, and special stripes on the seats. However, the powertrain is the same as found on the less expensive CX-7 Sport, and the all-wheel-drive system remains a $1,700 option.
Nuts and Bolts
Typically, more money buys more motor. Base models usually get the so-called fuel-efficient engine, while the upper trims draw power from a couple extra cylinders or a sweet turbocharger. Mazda has done things a bit differently with the 2007 CX-7. Every model, from the base front-wheel-drive Sport to the all-wheel-drive Grand Touring, gets the same engine, a turbocharged 2.3-liter, dual overhead cam four-cylinder with direct injection that’s good for 244 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The Hitachi Warner turbo maxes out at 14.9 psi, and the exhaust runs straight back to the dual chrome tips to lessen back pressure. A six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode directs power to a front- or all-wheel-drive system and, subsequently, standard 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/60 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires.
Based on the Mazda 6 platform, the five-passenger CX-7 weighs in between 3,710 – 3,929 pounds and rides on an independent MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link setup in the rear, first used on the Mazda 3 then adapted for the Mazda 5 and once again for use on the CX-7 SUV. Front and rear anti-sway bars are standard. The optional all-wheel-drive system, borrowed from the Mazdaspeed 6, pushes 100 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels under normal conditions, yet unleashes an equal 50/50 split front and rear when grip is compromised. Of the 40,000 units Mazda expects to sell annually, half are expected to be equipped with all-wheel-drive traction. Regardless, all 2007 CX-7s come with stability and traction control systems, antilock brakes with vented discs on all four corners, electronic brake-force distribution, and speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering.
“A big, angry RX-8.” That’s how designers of the 2007 Mazda CX-7 describe their creation. The vehicle’s program manager, Shunsuke Kawasaki, suggests that his goal was to “make the nicest SUV in the North American market, an SUV with the soul of a sports car.” To do so, he and his team attempted to blend sports car attributes – speed, athleticism, and driving pleasure – with SUV traits – sturdiness, practicality, and a commanding view of the road. The result is the CX-7, or what is referred to internally as the Metropolitan Hawk.
Look at the CX-7 head on and you can clearly see the RX-8’s influence, from the large air intakes to the exaggerated front shoulders. On the outer edges are sculpted headlights, and behind it all is a steeply-raked windshield that makes the SUV look fast even when it’s sitting still. Move along to the flanks to discover sleek body panels curving out just a bit above the rockers, flared rear wheels that are much less prominent than those up front, and a greenhouse that correspondingly diminishes with the rise of the beltline. The rear roofline mimics that of the Infiniti FX as it slopes down near the tail, and the view straight from the back looks a bit like a Porsche Cayenne thanks to a wide body that slopes inward at the pillars. Final touches include clear taillight lenses and dual chrome exhaust pipes. A bumper step pad, most useful in preventing scratches on top of the rear bumper, is optional. Exterior build quality was up to par on our CX-7 test car, evidenced by tight gaps and aligned body panels.
Inside, the blending of sport and utility continues. The small, leather-wrapped steering wheel has been borrowed from the MX-5 and includes controls for the radio. The gauge cluster is prominently displayed and ringed in silver, as are the instrument panel and shift knob. Piano black accents come with the upper trim levels, but all models get a display screen for the radio and climate controls above the instrument panel. The dash has upper and lower sections, the upper hard plastic and the lower slightly rubberized, each with a different grain. There’s yet another pattern for the hard plastic used on the gauge cluster and door switch panels. Interestingly, the pieces used on the upper doors are the same for all four doors, but the front doors get a hint of padding while the rear doors are treated to rock-solid plastic. Couple that with the flimsy door panels and the stiff leather upholstery and it’s easy to see where Mazda did its cost cutting. Interior storage has its pros and cons, pros being the front armrest spacious enough for most laptops or purses, and cons being the dearth of rear seat storage. The cargo area is accessed through a large opening and is roomy with the rear seats folded nearly flat, though a few tie downs and the reversible load floor are the only tricks this dog has – there are no hidden cubbies or special touches. However, the rear seats fold even when the front buckets are pushed all the way back.
CX-7. Just saying the name conjures up images of a thrilling automotive experience. With rides like the MX-5, RX-8, and Mazdaspeed line of vehicles, not to mention the Zoom-Zoom tagline, Mazda is aiming to marry its brand with sporty transportation, and with releases like the Mazda 5 and the CX-7, it’s obviously looking to do so in all categories.
After a couple hundred miles of driving through the twisty back country of northern Virginia, we’d say these guys are pretty good with an arrow. At the heart of this SUV is a turbocharged motor, but you’d hardly know it from inside. There’s nary a bit of lag, and with the windows open the driver still can’t hear the whoosh of the turbo. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that there’s more than an regular ol’ engine under the hood. That’s also the feeling when nailing the accelerator from a dead stop, as the result is an unimpressive launch and the unloading of turbo power is never clearly felt. But get the CX-7 up to speed, keep the engine singing a nice note as it’s wrung out near redline, and enjoy a very unSUV-like experience. Even during regular travels the steering and ride are on the tight and firm side, but both points are exaggerated on lonesome stretches of curvy asphalt. The Mazda CX-7 can handle turns at a high rate of speed, the responsive steering constantly returning plenty of feedback, the brakes offering excellent modulation, and the suspension soaking up heaves and dips with equal aplomb. Goodyear Eagle tires, standard on all models, proved to be big fans of grip and quietly did their job despite the abuse doled out. If you’re looking for body roll or sloppy manners, look elsewhere.
Also adding to the fun is a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode that allows the driver to hold gears longer and keep the revs up. For spirited jaunts along forgotten side roads, we used the manual mode to set the CX-7 in third and ran it hard from stop sign to stop sign. The occasional counter-intuitive downshift (you actually have to click the shifter up/forward for a downshift and down/rearward for an upshift) was smooth and prevented us from looking like a couple of bobble-heads as the engine lurched. Should the driver get carried away with all of the fun and forget to preserve the motor, the rev limiter will kick in and cut power. Just like a guy looking at a beautiful girl, a driver with a fun car needs to slapped back into sense sometimes.
Back on heavily-traveled roads, the 2007 Mazda CX-7 is a suitable everyday driver. The ride is short of monastery quiet, especially with the wind buffeting around the windshield and A-pillars, though carrying on a regular conversation is a non-issue. Visibility is aided by large mirrors, retractable rear headrests, and an expansive greenhouse. Narrow B-pillars allow for an excellent over-the-shoulder view. Drivers are afforded a comfortable place to soak up the miles with a large, well-bolstered seat, a tilt steering wheel, and a shift knob and primary controls all within easy reach. The front passenger also gets a hospitable bucket while riders out back get a split bench spacious enough for most adults; long-legged folks will appreciate the soft front seatbacks. A fold-down center armrest with integrated cupholders helps rear passengers take a load off.
Where is the 2007 Mazda CX-7 built?
All models are imported to the U.S. from Japan.
Are there any plans for a Mazda CX-7 Hybrid?
Not at this time.
How does the 2007 Mazda CX-7 differ from CX-9?
The two vehicles look very similar, but differ primarily in terms of power and size. The CX-9 will get a 3.5-liter V6 good for 250 horsepower and will seat up to seven passengers. The CX-7 houses a 244-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and has room for five passengers. Along with the smaller Mazda 5, these two rides are meant to fill the void of the departing Mazda MPV minivan. Also, Mazda is targeting different buyers, aiming at 30- to 40-year-old childless couples for the CX-7 and 30- to 50-year-old couples with a few kids and a dog, plus a genuine need for seven-passenger seating, for the CX-9. Of course, these are just marketing demographics – they’ll happily accept a check from your 95-year-old grandmother, too.
Test Vehicle: 2007 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring AWD
Base Price: $28,560 (including a $560 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: Turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder
Engine Horsepower: 244 at 5,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 258 lb.-ft. at 2,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb Weight, lbs.: 3,929
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 18/24 mpg
Length: 184.0 inches
Width: 73.7 inches
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Height: 64.8 inches
Legroom (front/rear): 41.7/36.4 inches
Headroom (front/rear): 39.7/39.3 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Five
Max. Cargo Volume: 58.6 cubic feet
Max. Towing Capacity, lbs.: 2,000
Ground Clearance: 8.1 inches
Competitors: Acura RDX, BMW X3, Chevrolet Equinox, Chrysler Pacifica, Ford Edge, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Patriot, Mercury Mariner, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Murano, Pontiac Torrent, Saturn Vue, Subaru Forester, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Suzuki XL-7, Toyota RAV4
Photos courtesy of Mazda