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Avg. Price Paid:$7,900 - $9,257
Original MSRP: $23,750 - $28,000
MPG: 19 City / 24 Hwy
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2007 Mazda CX-7 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2007 Mazda CX-7 was new.

Critics agree that the 2007 Mazda CX-7 offers very good performance. Kelley Blue Book says that "the CX-7 excels in the areas of handling, braking, acceleration and overall ride comfort." The CX-7's four-cylinder turbo-charged engine "would be right at home in a sports car," reports the Detroit Free Press.

The Arizona Republic enjoys the CX-7's carlike handling, calling it "a go-anywhere sport vehicle looking for its next adventure. Based on the solid Mazda 6 chassis, CX-7 drives like a well-tuned automobile, handling nicely within the limits of a high-profile vehicle and returning plenty of driver input from its firm suspension and responsive steering."

However, several reviewers point out that the excellent handling and performance come with a couple of downsides. Newsday says that "the price of the good handling that makes the driver's job so much easier and so much fun in the CX-7 is a ride that's very firm, rendering the 7 a better vehicle for local shopping trips or shuttling the kids around town than for long drives." In addition, the CX-7's performance-minded engine guzzles the required premium fuel. MSN complains, "Gosh, some SUVs and crossovers with V6s have higher government fuel economy ratings than the CX-7." Two examples are the Ford Escape and Subaru Outback.

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2007 Mazda CX-7 boasts a 2.3-liter double overhead camshaft direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Mazdaspeed 6. With 244 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the CX-7 goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, prompting Newsday to note that "the engine delivers an amazing amount of power nicely distributed around the tachometer." The Sacramento Bee calls the inter-cooled engine "decidedly enthusiastic," while the Detroit News finds it "zippy." Road and Track reports, "A good amount of torque makes itself known immediately, snapping the CX-7 off the line. Once in motion, the 3930-lb. vehicle accelerates briskly, with 99 percent of peak torque maintained from 2000 to 5000 rpm; however, the engine runs out of breath in the upper ranges." While reviewers love the engine's power, it's not without its problems. Several reviewers note that it takes too long for the turbocharger to get going. The New York Times writes, "This engine has some turbo lag below 2,500 or 3,000 rpm. You find yourself waiting to go and then, suddenly, you blast off. The turbo response isn't quite all or nothing, but it's close."

Another criticism is fuel economy, which suffers in large part because of the fact that pricey "premium fuel is required to baby that turbocharged engine," according to U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman. CNET adds, "Unfortunately, this engine magic doesn't deliver four-cylinder fuel economy."

According to the EPA, the FWD version nets 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway, while the AWD nets 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, which is "about equal to the RDX, Murano and Torrent, but worse than the RAV4," according to the Detroit Free Press. While About.com is critical of the CX-7's "slight drinking problem," especially for a four-cylinder engine, Newsday finds the fuel economy adequate enough, writing, "As a group, SUVs are not exactly overachievers when it comes to gas mileage, but the CX-7 checks in with slightly better than average numbers."

The CX-7's engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with clutchless shifting that the New York Times says is "quick to figure out what you want. Whether it downshifts one gear or two, it delivers whatever you need, right away." Reviewers like the manumatic, but find the process, pushing the gearshift forward to downshift and pulling back to upshift, "counterintuitive."

The Detroit Free Press is also critical of the transmission needs, which it says needs "fine-tuning," as it "had a tendency to hunt, shifting back and forth between gears because its programming couldn't settle on the appropriate one." Similarly, Newsday calls the transmission "nervous," noting that it is "prone to what seem like unnecessary downshifts in highway driving, particularly on upgrades, a well-intentioned effort to help the driver maintain speed uphill." Reviewers also express their disappointment that no manual transmission is available. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman writes, "hey, you can get one on the BMW X3, so why not the CX-7?"

The 2007 Mazda CX-7's towing capacity is just 2,000 lbs, which is "less than the 3,500-pound maximum of a compact SUV like Ford's Escape," according to MSN. But Cars.com says that "the CX-7 is clearly not meant to tow more than a jet ski, so that number is unlikely to concern most shoppers."

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers feel that the CX-7 drives more like a car than a truck, which is a definite plus. Edmunds reports, "When it comes to handling and brake performance, the Mazda CX-7 lives up to the 'soul of a sports car' hype." U.S. News' Rick Newman says, "Handling is a hoot -- the tighter the curve, the better." And, AutoWeek calls the handling "awesome," noting that it is "flat and confidence-inspiring." That sporty feel is due in large part to the SUV's suspension -- MacPherson struts in the front and multi-link in the rear -- which is borrowed from different components of the MAZDA5, MAZDA3 and MAZDA6. AutoWeek calls the suspension "well above average by crossover standards," and the Detroit Free Press says it "absorbs bumps well."

But not everything about the suspension pleases reviewers. The Los Angeles Times finds it a problem because the rear pickup points -- meaning the points at which the suspension attaches to the body -- "had to be pushed outward to preserve cargo space, causing rear suspension travel to be limited." The reviewer notes that this results in a "curious ride quality," explaining that "when you put the CX-7 into a hard corner on uneven pavement, the rear end dances around more than you would like." Road and Track notes that since the shocks and spring rates have been tuned "on the firm side," ride quality is "somewhat choppy over uneven surfaces." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel likes the "firm and sporty" ride, but notes that while it's great on "smooth highways and winding through tight curves," on rough streets "it can be jittery."

The New York Times notes that where the CX-7 really shines is in big sweeping turns, when it behaves "like a sports tourer, heading obediently into the turn and following through with body motions that were well-controlled, giving the CX-7 a tidy and secure feel." Conversely, the same reviewer says the CX-7 doesn't quite deliver when the driver wants to go fast on tighter turns. The New York Times continues, "The CX-7 has a nose-heavy feel that hampers it on quick transitions, like a sharp left followed by a sharp right. The steering also feels somewhat distant; its isolationism may disappoint serious enthusiasts."

The CX-7's speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering gets mostly high marks. Edmunds calls it "nicely weighted" and Road and Track describes it as "razor sharp, with a solid on-center feel." However, the Orlando Sentinel suggests that the steering feels lighter than it should, writing, "A little more road feel would be nice."

The CX-7 features four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock (ABS) technology, along with traction control and stability control. Overall, the brakes receive high praise, with Edmunds calling them "freaking awesome. Unlike most competitors, all four of the CX-7's rotors are ventilated, not just the fronts. And the front calipers are two-piston units, not single pistons as is the usual custom." The reviewer reports 60-0 stops of "a mere 113 feet, with no fade or smelly after effects." New Car Test Drive says, "The brake pedal returns a solid, firm feel, and the vented discs all 'round deliver reassuring, controlled stops when called upon." The Car Connection found the brakes "perfect for the stop-and-go of early rush hour." One of the only braking complaints comes from MSN, which notes that "some drivers may find the brake pedal to be overly sensitive -- just press it fairly lightly and the brakes immediately bite pretty hard."

All Wheel Drive

The 2007 Mazda CX-7 comes standard in front-wheel drive, but is also available with Mazda's Active Torque-Split all-wheel drive (AWD) system. The on-demand system, which is another part borrowed from the MAZDA6, requires no driver input. Rather, a computer can send up to 50 percent of the available power to the rear wheels in necessary situations. The system lacks low-range gearing, which means it's meant for all-weather driving rather than off-roading.

Pleased with the performance of the AWD in slippery conditions, USA TODAY writes, "The AWD system performed flawlessly in heavy rain and on low-traction surfaces: Floor the gas and go."

Review Last Updated: 12/3/08

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