in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,588 - $17,446
Original MSRP: $21,700 - $33,035
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2010 Mazda CX-7 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Mazda CX-7's sporty performance is among the best in the class. However, several reviewers point out that the excellent performance comes with a couple of downsides, including a firm ride and the lack of a manual transmission. This SUV is fun to drive, but if you have a long daily commute, you may want to consider more comfortable options, such as the RAV4 and CR-V.

To see how the CX-7 does on the road, be sure to watch our CX-7 video.

  • "While Mazda's 'zoom-zoom' driving experience may be easily blended into a small sports car, doing so with a five-passenger crossover SUV is quite another story. Fortunately, this one has a happy ending as the CX-7 excels in the areas of handling, braking, acceleration and overall ride comfort." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While this Mazda crossover may lag behind some other compact SUVs in terms of utility, its performance and handling abilities make it the most rewarding choice in its class to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "Happy being tossed at curves, the CX-7 is rewarding to drive. But you have to keep your right foot pinned, which makes gas go whoosh." -- Car and Driver
  • "Power and handling deliver on Mazda's promise of 'zoom-zoom.'" -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2010 Mazda CX-7 boasts a new base engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 161 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Those who have tested it like its efficiency, but find it a little sluggish -- especially compared to the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, which continue on as an option on the higher trims.

With 244 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the turbocharged CX-7 goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds -- but all that power takes a toll on fuel economy. According to the EPA, the turbocharged 2WD model achieves 18/25 mpg city/highway, while the 4WD model achieves 17/23 mpg. At 20/28 mpg, the new 2.5-liter base engine substantially increases fuel economy. It increases it so much, in fact, that the CX-7 with the base engine features excellent gas mileage for its class.

  • "If you're expecting haste, this is not the right setup. The 2.5 generates 161 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque, compared to the turbo's 244 hp and 258 lb-ft. Although it's lighter -- Mazda lists curb weight at just under 3500 pounds, versus almost 3800 pounds for the front-drive turbo version -- that's a big power disparity, and it adds up to leisurely acceleration." -- Car and Driver
  • The turbocharged engine is "Peppy once rolling. An AWD Grand Touring did 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds in our test. Turbo lag is noticeable away from a stop and during around-town passing maneuvers. Manually shifting the automatic transmission partly offsets the lazy throttle response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Taking off from a dead stop, turbo lag was nearly imperceptible, though not completely eliminated. The onset of power is nowhere near as dramatic as that of the Tiguan, which comes on like a light switch about 3,000rpm. Instead, the CX-7 delivers power evenly and predictably." -- CNET
  • "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." -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers feel that the CX-7, with a retuned suspension for 2010, drives more like a car than a truck. But not everything about the suspension pleases reviewers. Some find the ride overly choppy and stiff, which means the CX-7 may not be the best choice as a daily driver.

  • "CX-7 is less car-like than advertised but is agile for an SUV of this size and weight, abetted by fine steering and a well-planted feel. Its turning radius is also impressively tight. Standard antiskid control is laudable, though it activated on one test CX-7 even in fairly low-effort cornering. Impressive brake response and control." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the highway, the CX-7's suspension sure demonstrates the traditional sports car harshness. While it does a good job of muting road noise and isolating the cabin from expansion joints and cracks in the road, the Mazda's suspension is firmer than we expected for a small SUV. The suspension doesn't do a great job of absorbing the harshness of larger bumps." -- CNET
  • "When it comes to handling and braking performance, the 2010 Mazda CX-7 lives up to Mazda's sporty reputation. The steering is nicely weighted, and the effort increases in direct proportion to cornering forces. This crossover SUV feels stable in turns and changes direction quickly." -- Edmunds

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