in 2012 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $16,228 - $24,176
Original MSRP: $22,190 - $33,540
MPG: 20 City / 27 Hwy
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2012 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 2012 Mazda CX-7's sporty performance is among the best in the class, but several reviewers point out that its stand-out performance comes with a couple of downsides, including a firm ride and low fuel economy ratings from both four-cylinder engines.  

  • "To make a sport utility vehicle ride and handle like a low-slung sport sedan takes a bit of tweaking in both the engine and suspension department. In the case of the 2012 CX-7 SUV, Mazda engineers have accomplished their goals without sacrificing ride comfort or a quiet cabin." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "When it comes to handling and braking performance, the … 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. The CX-7 rides a bit firmer than most competitors, but that's a livable trade-off for such performance." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, i models of the Mazda CX-7 have a 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired to a five-speed automatic transmission. Those who have tested this engine like its efficiency, but find it a little sluggish, especially compared with the optional 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. But test drivers say that even the 2.3-liter engine isn’t perfect because its manual shift mode is slow.

With 244 horsepower, the turbocharged CX-7 is significantly faster than the base model, but all that power takes a toll on fuel economy. According to the EPA, the turbocharged two-wheel drive model achieves 18/24 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel drive model achieves 17/21 mpg. Models with the turbocharged engine use premium gasoline. At 20/27 mpg, the 2.5-liter base engine, which is only available with two-wheel drive, substantially increases fuel economy.

  • "When equipped with the 161-horsepower engine, the CX-7's driving experience is still fun, if not fast. It's the 244-horsepower turbocharged engine, however, that makes the Mazda CX-7 a blast to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "CX-7's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is a good match to this vehicle. It's not strong in any situation, but it has sufficient power for most around-town chores." -- Consumer Guide
  • “The upgraded engine has good midrange punch and the automatic gearbox is smooth. However, don't bother with the transmission's manual shift mode. It's slow and will just enrage you." -- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers say that the CX-7 has sporty, nimble handling and strong brakes for a compact SUV. But some find its ride choppy and stiff, which means the CX-7 may not be the best choice for a family vehicle. 

  • "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. … Impressive brake response and control." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Like most other Mazda models, the CX-7 offers precise handling and responsive steering for its class." -- Edmunds
  • "The ride is a bit too firm with Detroit's potholes sending small shivers and shakes into the steering column." -- AutoWeek

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