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2007 Mazda CX-7 2007 Mazda CX-7 New Car Review

by Ann Job

The crossovers are coming, and in a big way. If you don’t believe, go to a Mazda dealership, where the new, 2007 Mazda CX-7 is getting lots of looks.

2007 Mazda CX-7 Exterior

The CX-7 is Mazda’s first crossover sport utility vehicle, meaning it combines the higher seat height and sporty looks of a sport utility vehicle with the handling, ride, and in this case, even the engine, of a car. Specifically, the CX-7 is based on a much-modified version of the Mazda6 sedan platform. The CX-7’s four-cylinder engine comes from the sporty MazdaSpeed6 car. The crossover’s all-wheel-drive system also is a modified version of that on the MazdaSpeed6.

But the five-door, five-passenger CX-7 doesn’t look like a car, or even an SUV. It looks more like a stylish, tall wagon. It’s 3 inches longer and wider than the MazdaSpeed 6. It’s more than 8 inches taller and it’s some 200 pounds heavier. Best of all, the CX-7 isn’t built just for families. Mazda officials want to attract singles and couples seeking a zippy ride and easy-to-use cargo space in a not-too-big package.

Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, at introduction was $24,310 for a base, 2007 CX-7 Sport with front-wheel drive and 244-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. This compares with the Nissan Murano starting at just over $28,000 for a base, front-drive, S model with a 245-horsepower V6, and the Toyota Highlander, which starts at more than $25,000 for a base, front-drive model with 155-horsepower four cylinder.

“Zoom-zoom” crossover
Unusual for the segment, the CX-7 has a four-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged and intercooled. This helps explain why the 2.3-liter unit produces the horsepower akin to that of the Murano with larger, 3.5-liter V6. And despite the CX-7’s more than 3,700-pound weight, the seat-of-the-pants “oomph” - or torque - is palpable at 258 lb.-ft. at 2,500 rpm. Thanks to the direct injection turbo, the torque is higher than the rpm in the Murano.

In the test CX-7, there wasn’t noticeable turbo lag. The vehicle eagerly merged into traffic, climbed hilly roads and passed other vehicles. Too bad, though, that pricey premium gasoline is listed as the required fuel for the CX-7.

Note that Mazda’s CX-7 and Acura’s new-for-2007 RDX are the only crossovers to come solely with turbocharged four-cylinder power plants. Officials at both Japan-based companies say they wanted to provide both spirited power and decent fuel economy.

But don’t look for exceptional fuel economy in the hefty CX-7. It basically is just a bit above the middle of the SUV pack in terms of government fuel economy ratings. Specifically, the front-drive CX-7 has a government rating of 19 miles a gallon in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway. Optional all-wheel drive drops the city rating to 18 mpg, but the highway rating remains at 24 mpg.

Indeed, some SUVs and crossovers with V-6s have higher government fuel economy ratings than the two-wheel-drive CX-7. These include the Ford Escape and Subaru Outback.

Mazda officials decided against using a V6 for several reasons. A V6 would be a larger unit under the hood, and designers wanted a hood that wasn’t too long. A V6 would add weight to the vehicle up front, which would affect the CX-7’s handling. And, of course, a V6 would likely use more gasoline. An interesting note: The CX-7 doesn’t have the word “turbo” included in the vehicle badging. It’s not in the instrument panel inside, either, and there’s no turbo boost gauge.

A Mazda official from Japan said the company worried that Americans, who have long preferred big engines, don’t have a great opinion of turbo four cylinders. He also assured that the CX-7 turbo, with high-tech features, is long-lived and durable.

The CX-7 has only one transmission: A six-speed automatic with shift-it-yourself mechanism.

Handling is noteworthy
The test CX-7 impressed with its lack of wind noise, even at highway speeds. No wonder. The windshield is steeply raked at a 66-degree angle, which is more than what’s on some sports cars. While this gives the CX-7 a sporty look, it also makes for some large side pillars by the windshield. So drivers must look carefully around these pillars when making turns.

The rack-and-pinion steering is more responsive than I expected in a crossover vehicle. In fact, the CX-7’s steering feels like a sports car’s. I just wish the steering wheel was a bit larger in diameter, because its smallish size tends to make drivers turn it a bit farther than they need and then further adjustments follow.

2007 Mazda CX-7 Interior

The CX-7 gives good views over traffic because of the high seat height, and passengers can notice some head toss when the vehicle is going aggressively through curves and turns. But the test CX-7 handled admirably, holding its line on mountain roads with nary a tire squeal. There’s also no unsettling feeling of weight shifting precipitously in this nicely-done crossover, and brakes had strong stopping power.

The test CX-7, with 18-inch tires, had a lot of road noise coming into the passenger compartment, and passengers routinely felt road vibrations through the seat cushions.

Inviting interior
Except for the old-style, “mouse fur” ceiling material, the CX-7 interior looks modern and upscale. Gauges are easy to read and the center stack’s audio and ventilation controls are well arranged. Seats feel both cushioned and supportive, though, at 5 feet 4, I never could see the end of the CX-7’s hood. I had a great view of the windshield wipers, instead. Three full-size golf bags fit into the cargo area when the rear seats are in use. But when more room is needed back there, the rear seatbacks don’t fold down quite flat and the front passenger seatback doesn’t fold forward at all. I guess Mazda emphasized the “zoom-zoom,” rather than practicality, in this crossover.

Maximum cargo space is 58.6 cubic feet, and the CX-7’s towing capacity is just 2,000 pounds, which is less than the 3,500-pound maximum of a compact SUV like Ford’s Escape.

A final note: In 2007, Mazda adds a second crossover. The slightly larger CX-9 has three rows of seats compared with two rows of seats in CX-7. Styling, however, is similar for both vehicles.

2007 Mazda CX-7
Crossover SUV
Model options:

Grand Touring

Engine size:

244-hp 2.3L DOHC 16-valve inline-4

I-4: 160 @ 6,500 rpm
V-6: 221 @ 6,250 rpm

6-speed Sport automatic transmission


108.3 inches

Overall Length:

184 inches

Rear/Front Drive:



Rack and pinion


4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS and EBD and Brake Assist

Air bags:

Dual front and front side air bags

Fuel Economy:

Sport: 19/24 mpg
Touring: 19/24 mpg
Grand Touring: 19/24 mpg


$23,750 - $28,000