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2010 Mazda CX-7
Who knew that fewer horses could be such a powerplay
By Malcolm Gunn
Here's a switch. Most new vehicles that receive a mid-cycle upgrade often are the recipients of added power along with a modest price bump. But the reverse is actually the case with the 2010 CX-7.
Mazda's sporty five-passenger wagon can now be had in a more modestly powered base package that's geared to saving money when you sign on the dotted line as well as fill up at the gas pump.
The CX-7, which was originally introduced for the 2007 model year, makes its mark as one of a trio of wagons sporting Mazda badges (the others being the larger CX-9 and Ford Escape-based Tribute) and is arguably the best looking of the bunch. For 2010, the vehicle's exterior has been graced with the latest version of Mazda's happy-smiley grille. At least on this particular model it doesn't overpower the rest of the vehicle's attractive styling. Perhaps it's the CX's broad-shouldered fenders as well as its steeply raked (66-degree) windshield that neatly blend in with the new nosepiece and revised rear bumper.
The freshly applied front-end artistry has been augmented by a general interior spruce-up that includes a new steering wheel with more buttons for the optional Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio systems. There's also new ambient illumination for the gauges, a repositioned multi-information display screen and redesigned front and rear armrests. The attempt here, states Mazda, is to create an "enhanced quality feel and added comfort."
Mazda's engineers also went to work on the CX-7's platform, retuning the shock absorbers for improved ride control. The basic structure has also been made slightly more rigid with only a small weight penalty. A quieter cabin has apparently been achieved by stuffing the engine compartment and interior with more sound-absorbing insulation.
More can also mean less when referring to the offerings beneath the CX-7's bonnet. The starting point powerplant is now a naturally aspirated - as in non-turbocharged - 2.5-litre four-cylinder that delivers 161 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5 is basically the same engine that's employed as the base motivation for the Mazda6 sedan and is an optional upgrade for Mazda3 purchasers.
Moving to the option sheet this model year is the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that spools out 244 horses and 258 pound-feet of torque.
A five-speed automatic transmission transmits the base 2.5's power to the front wheels, while the turbo continues with a six-speed automatic connected to either a front-, or an optional all-wheel-drive setup. The 2.5 cannot be had with all-wheel-drive.
The new base engine is exclusive to the $29,600 CX-7 GX (about $2,000 less than 2009's base turbo model) that also includes all the basics plus keyless remote entry, four-speaker audio system heated outside mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Turbo-engine models include the $33,900 GS that ratchets up the content quotient with all-wheel-drive and 18-inch wheels. However, the full-load treatment requires an upgrade to the GT ($40,600) that lavishes its owners with climate control, power moonroof, leather covered interior, power-adjustable heated front seats and a nine-speaker Bose audio package.
GT models also showcase keyless entry and start, distinctive gauge illumination, bright Xenon headlamps manual headlight leveling and 19-inch wheels. Getting some CX-7 seat time is now a bit easier on the pocketbook and the vehicle is about 140 kilograms lighter with the new base engine, which helps it produce fuel-economy numbers of 10.4 and 7.2 l/100 km (city/highway), compared to 12.2/8.7 for a AWD turbo. The GX might lack a few features offered on the turbo models, but on the plus side the price-leader feels lighter on its feet, making it more enjoyable to steer around urban areas. So if getting there is at least half the fun, the CX-7 makes a strong case for frugality over frills.
What you should know: 2010 Mazda CX-7
Type: Four-door, five-passenger front- / all-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle
Engines (hp): 2.5-litre DOHC I4 (161); 2.3-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (244)
Transmissions: Five-speed automatic (2.5); six-speed automatic (2.3)
Market position: With its more fuel-efficient base engine and lower price tag, the CX-7 can now more effectively compete alongside a number of fuel-efficient four-cylinder competitors in the so-called "entry-ute" category.
Points; Slightly lower price should stimulate sales; Lighter overall weight helps the new engine be a lively performer; Less base equipment than turbo models; Tempting trade-up vehicle for current Mazda5 owners; More attractive upgraded interior a welcome improvement; Slippery looking body remains CX-7's primary physical attribute.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): 10.4/7.2 (2.5);
Base price (incl. destination): $29,600
Base price: $27,350
All-new and roomier 2010 edition looks great. Base four-cylinder sips fuel.
Base price: $27,900
Entry ute offers near-sporty driving experience at a competitive price.
Base price: $29,150
Light-weight Passat/Golf-based wagon produces impressive performance.
Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!
Posted May 18, 2010. © CarTest.ca TM