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2007 Mazda CX-7 GT Road Test



'Zoom-Zoom' comes to the SUV field

By Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan

2007 Mazda CX-7The whole crossover vehicle idea has become a real recipe for success, and we have seen quite a few manufacturers enter this segment of the market this year alone -- 2006.

Each seems to have differing ideas on what exactly the makeup of a Crossover vehicle should be. Some feel that  the size or load-carrying capacity is the most important issue. Others strive to make their vehicles drive as car-like as possible. Then there are some who feel that large engines and performance are the key ingredients to it all.

Mazda has never been a company to sit and read other people's recipe books, as they tend to prefer writing them. This can clearly be seen in its new 2007 CX-7 Crossover SUV. I feel that Mazda designers might just have cooked up a winner with this one, as they've taken a decent load-carrying design, added more than a dash of luxury, and of course, being Mazda, put in a big heaping of their own little secret ingredient, "Zoom, Zoom!"

Looking at the vehicle from the outside, it comes as no surprise to discover that the head chef was the same man who brought us the hugely popular Mazda6. It has the--  now almost trademark -- Mazda front end look. The family resemblance can also be seen in the bold fenders, which many of their current models carry.

Its windshield angle of 66 degrees would make many sports cars look downright brick-like, and it certainly adds to the vehicle's sleek appearance. Some very nice 18-inch aluminum rims fill those bulbous arches and when combined with the vehicle's chrome accents, give an air of up-market luxury. The CX-7 has clearly been designed with aerodynamics in mind. Yet in many ways, it still manages to appear a bold and capable, if not slightly downsized, SUV.

2007 Mazda CX-7 interiorAs with all Mazdas, the sporty design of the exterior is continued into the vehicle's cabin area with an equally sportily designed dashboard layout. My test unit was fitted with Mazda's luxury package, so on top of all the usual toys, it boasted a premium Bose sound system and a very easy to use touch screen Sat-Nav. This system also incorporates a clever rear back-up camera feature to enable safer reversing maneuvers. The cost of this system ($3,150) is a little startling even though it is an exceptionally nice unit.

I had a small issue at first with the forward visibility. There is obviously a certain price to pay for that stylish raked windshield, as the pillars on each side can make you feel as if you're looking through a tunnel.

Another issue was the placement of speakers on the top of the super-sized dashboard as the reflections from them, particularly the centre one, were quite distracting whilst driving. At first I found this rather off-putting, although I did become accustomed to it, if not accepting of it, by the end of the week.

The rest of the interior has been well thought out. The seating positions work well and there is more space than you would expect once you're inside.

Now to how it performs, and this is where the 'Zoom, Zoom' people really get to strut their stuff and make everyone aware of exactly what the Z word is all about.

No, I'm not going to tell you that it has a whopping great V8 like many of the others do. No, the CX-7 sports a rather nice little 2.3-litre four-cylinder; of course, being Mazda, it just happens to be a 244hp, turbocharged, intercooled version of the engine which powers its super-quick MazdaSpeed6.

This unit carries Mazda's DISI system (Direct Injection Spark Ignition), which has been designed to deliver high performance at all speeds, along with low exhaust emissions and excellent fuel economy. This is certainly one big plus mark for this vehicle as many potential purchasers of crossover vehicles are possibly downsizing from larger SUVs due to today's high fuel costs.

2007 Mazda CX-7 with hatch openHelping this amazing little burner is a six speed automatic transmission. We are starting to see these appear on more and more vehicles today. For anyone who hasn't experienced one, it might seem like the vehicle is constantly changing gear but they do work well and are a real plus to both performance and fuel economy.

The CX-7 comes in both GS and GT versions with front wheel drive as standard, although AWD can be added to either. The AWD option carries a MSRP of $2,000, which I didn't find too outrageous. Of course, you may not need it as the CX-7 appears to have plenty of grip in front-wheel-drive form.

It also handles the bumps, twists and turns well, in fact, very well. There is, however, a certain price to pay for those nice 18 rims, in the sense that you do feel more of the road imperfections and potholes.

Also, CX-7 has earned a 4-star Rollover Star Rating from NHTSA for both the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models.

On summing up, I would say that Mazda has thrown a little sweetener into the Crossover mixture. Maybe sporty, load-carrying, luxury car-like vehicles are the way to go, but Mazda's CX-7 certainly says one thing: “You don't have to have a large V8 to make the recipe work.”

Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan is a regular contributor to CarTest!. He is based in Caledon, Ont., and can be reached at crash@crashcorrigan.ca.

Fast Facts
Base price: GS $31,995, GT $35,195
Cargo volume: 1,658L (behind front seat back), 848  L (behind rear seat back)
Fuel economy (L/100km), 2WD/4WD: City 12.7/12.9, Highway 9.0 / 9.2
Towing capacity: 907 Kg (2,000 lb)

Posted Oct. 5, 2007

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