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Available CX-7 SUV Models
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The 2007 Mazda CX-7 is a new crossover SUV that combines design cues from the Miata and RX-8, the practicality of an SUV body style and the sporty performance expected from a Mazda-brand vehicle.
Up until now, Mazda has had just one SUV in its lineup, the compact Tribute, which is essentially a corporate twin of the Ford Escape. Now, with the introduction of the 2007 CX-7, Mazda has a vehicle to compete in the midsize crossover SUV segment. This has proven to be a very popular category, as it appeals to those who may want an SUV for the all-weather grip of all-wheel drive, the generous cargo capacity and the higher-up driving position, along with carlike ride and handling dynamics. Mazda drew from the Miata and RX-8 sports cars for a styling theme and from the Mazdaspeed 6 sport sedan for its performance-oriented hardware.
Sharing its turbocharged 2.3-liter inline four with the feisty Mazdaspeed 6 (modified for a broader power spread at the expense of peak power), the 2007 Mazda CX-7 features a six-speed automatic transmission, a fully independent suspension and ventilated disc brakes at all four corners. Further driving home the on-road performance intent of the CX-7 are standard 18-inch wheels shod with 235/60 street tires and an optional all-wheel-drive system.
Based on the CX-7's mid-$20Ks price tag, its chief competitors would seem to be the Honda CR-V, Saturn Vue Redline and Toyota RAV4 V6, but it has more in common, sizewise, with the larger and more expensive Nissan Murano. And it possesses a sportier personality than any of these SUVs. Geared toward driving enthusiasts who desire a roomy and affordable performance SUV, the 2007 Mazda CX-7 delivers on the company's promise. Its sporty cabin design, along with its buttoned-down handling, tight steering, rapid acceleration and strong brakes, almost make one forget that he's driving something that makes sense as a family car.
The 2007 Mazda CX-7 is a midsize SUV that's available in three trim levels. The well-equipped Sport starts things off with 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control and a CD player. Next up is the midlevel Touring model, which adds leather-trimmed seats, front seat heaters and an eight-way power driver seat. The Grand Touring is the top-of-the-line CX-7 and features HID headlights, heated exterior mirrors, automatic climate control and distinct leather upholstery. All three trim levels can be further improved with additional options. A moonroof and an upgraded Bose audio system (with an in-dash six-CD changer) are grouped together as a package. They are also part of the Technology Package, as is a navigation system, a keyless-start feature and a rear park-assist system with rearview camera. A preferred equipment package consists of a cargo net, cargo tray, retracting cargo cover and rear bumper step plate.
The sole powertrain is a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.3-liter inline four good for 244 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability is standard. The CX-7 is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive; there is no low-range gearing, confirming the on-road mission of the CX-7. In normal driving situations, the all-wheel-drive system routes 100 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels. Up to 50 percent of engine power is automatically and quickly applied to the rear wheels in case of limited traction.
Although a loaded Grand Touring AWD model weighs close to 2 tons, performance is still relatively brisk, with zero to 60 mph taking just 7.7 seconds. Braking performance is world-class, with fade-free stops from 60 mph of 113 feet. Fuel economy is less impressive, as the EPA rates the CX-7 AWD as returning 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway, mediocre numbers for this class. Owners interested in towing will be somewhat limited, as the CX-7 is limited to 2,000 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor and six airbags (including front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags) come standard on all 2007 Mazda CX-7 trim levels.
The Miata and RX-8 influences show up in the cabin, with a sporty three-spoke wheel and instrument cluster that look as though they were lifted from those cars. The center console is taller to mimic the relationship between the steering wheel and shifter found in the RX-8. The design also creates a cavernous lockable center storage compartment that can swallow a purse or laptop whole. Cargo capacity measures 58.6 cubic feet with the second-row seats down and 29.9 cubes with them in use.
When it comes to handling and brake performance, the 2007 Mazda CX-7 lives up to the "soul of a sports car" hype. The power steering is nicely weighted, and the effort increases in direct proportion to cornering forces. This SUV feels very stable in turns and changes direction quickly, while maintaining solid control over body sway. The CX-7 rides a bit firmer than most competitors, but it's a small price to pay for such an enjoyable drive.
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