San Francisco: In
many families, the kids end up taking on different roles. Johnny plays
football, so brother Bob programs computers and sister Cynthia goes
dancing. In the same way, Mazda, the Japanese auto company, is the
athlete of the global Ford family. Starting with the historic
rotary-powered RX-7, through the groundbreaking Miata in 1989 and up to
todayís RX-8 four-door sports car, Mazda has dished out affordable,
fun-to-drive sports cars. Mazda now offers, for 2007, perhaps the
sportiest crossover SUV the world has ever see, the Mazda CX-7.
I sure wish theyíd picked a more interesting name, but alphanumerics are
all the rage these days and Mazdaís got them too. But this vehicle is
something pretty special, especially in the bold red my test vehicle
wore. The CX-7 is not a traditional sport utility vehicle, as itís not
truck-based and is anything but boxy, but it provides vast amounts of
sport and utility. So what is it?
Well, to start with, itís a five-passenger people mover. The raked-back
windshield could go on a Corvette, but there are little triangular
windows at the front pillars that look like they belong on a minivan.
The kicked up rear fender line and tapered top read a little more like a
station wagon, but the boldly defined wheel flares are pure SUV as we
have come to know it. The front wears the latest Mazda face, with drawn
back eyes and a five-pointed grille with a big bottom breather mouth
below the bumper.
The CX-7ís rear compartment, when the split rear seats are dropped,
boasts a 70-inch-long flat cargo floor. Thereís even a little lip in
front to keep your suitcases out of the front seats. You can stuff three
golf bags in back with the rear seats in their upright position (it
would be even nicer if four would fit so the entire foursome could
travel to the golf course together).
Inside the CX-7, itís obvious that somebody thought about how to make it
look and feel upscale without pushing up the price. The elegantly
sculpted surfaces mix black, tan, and silver in a way that resembles
luxury sedans, such as the Lexus LS series cars. Fine fit and finish
contribute to the sense of quality. Mazda claims that they studied what
people stick in their cars storage areas and designed the CX-7 around
it. Maybe. I know that the car held all of my junk without complaint.
The CX-7 comes with only one engine, but it does an excellent job of
delivering the sporting goods. Itís only a 2.3-liter four cylinder, but
with turbocharging and intercooling, it manages to generate 244
horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and it does it quietly and oh-so-smoothly.
Torque peaks at a low 2,500 rpm, giving the car plenty of energy at the
level regular folks drive it, not just racing enthusiasts. Driving
around town, I felt the car leap ahead when I gave it some loose leash,
and it hums contentedly on the freeway at pretty much whatever speed you
end up going. Eighty feels relaxed (tell that to the highway patrolman).
You can choose front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in the CX-7. The AWD
version uses sophisticated computer logic to automatically deliver
torque to the wheels that need it. If you drive the car like most SUVs
are used, all-wheel drive is a nice safety feature, but it wonít help
you navigate the Rubicon Trail, nor is it intended to. The
front-wheel-drive version earns EPA fuel mileage numbers of 19 City, 24
Highway. The AWD model loses one mpg in the city. Your mileage will
vary, and will probably be less.
You can select one of three levels of equipment. Even the base version,
the Sport model, isnít too shabby right out of the box. You get a
six-speed automatic with individual gear selection (no manual is
available). Stirred into the mix are ventilated four-wheel disc brakes
with ABS, electronic stability and traction control, keyless entry, and
big, bold 18-inch alloys for a big footprint. The Touring model adds
heated leather seats with power adjustment for the driver. The Grand
Touring further upgrades the car with automatic climate control, even
snazzier seats, and sparkling electroluminescent gauges.
My tester was pretty loaded, and proved to be a fine driver. That extra
height gives the SUV feeling without the lumbering truck ride and
handling. The CX-7 fits neatly in parking spots and feels nimble in
town. The instrument panel, with its two levels and deeply set
racing-style gauge package, helps deliver the feeling of fun that Mazda
surely intended here.
So, whatís the tab? The Sport model starts at just $24,345, including
destination charges. The Touring moves to $26,095, while the Grand
Touring touches $26,865. Thatís not a heavy price for what is surely the
rocket of the affordable crossover crew.
I had only one beef with the CX-7, besides its boring name. The touch
screen sometimes wouldnít take my manual input. It is probably just a
problem with this specific car, since Mazdaís typically work flawlessly.
If youíre looking for an engaging driver, but have people and cargo
hauling needs, you should definitely consider this new player in the
rapidly expanding SUV crossover market. By
Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Mazda Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony
Column Name: The Mazda CX-7 is the sportiest crossover SUV you can buy
Topic: The 2007 Mazda CX-7
Word Count: 943
Photo Caption: The 2007 Mazda CX-7
Photo Credits: Mazda Internet Media
Series #: 2006 - 65
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2007 Mazda CX-7
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2007 Mazda CX-7