in 2011 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $14,619 - $22,259
Original MSRP: $21,990 - $33,340
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2011 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 2011 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. 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 Chevrolet Equinox.

  • "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 Mazda CX-7 has a 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a five-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers like its efficiency, but find it a little sluggish -- especially when compared to the optional 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

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 18/24 mpg city/highway, while the 4WD model achieves 17/21 mpg. At 20/28 mpg, the 2.5-liter base engine substantially increases fuel economy.

  • "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
  • "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

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers feel that the CX-7, has sporty, nimble handling. But, some find the ride overly choppy and stiff, which means the CX-7 may not be the best choice for a family SUV. Reviewers generally agree that the Chevrolet Equinox has a smoother, more comfortable ride.

  • "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
  • "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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