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.