2008 Mazda CX-7 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Mazda CX-7 SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda CX-7 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.3 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 244 hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Mazda CX-7

  • Plenty of passenger space, adequate vroom, and yes, zoom-zoom. The 2008 Mazda CX-7 upholds Mazda's tradition of bringing fun to an otherwise practical-minded segment.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sporty handling, turbocharged four-cylinder provides V6-like power, stylish interior design, good build quality, attention-grabbing styling, high crash test scores.

  • Cons

    Turbocharged-four's lackluster fuel economy and appetite for premium fuel, below-average interior utility.

  • What's New for 2008

    Introduced last year, the Mazda CX-7 receives no significant changes for 2008.

Full 2008 Mazda CX-7 Review

What's New for 2008

Introduced last year, the Mazda CX-7 receives no significant changes for 2008.


The 2008 Mazda CX-7 handily dismisses the notion that SUVs are supposed to be big, lumbering things shaped like a cargo container on wheels. Even those that are fairly aerodynamic look like bricks alongside the CX-7's radically raked front end. Influenced by Mazda's RX-8 and Miata sports cars, the styling hints of an interior and a driving character that's also indicative of those cars. While this Mazda crossover may lag behind some other compact SUVs in terms of utility, its performance and handling abilities make it the most rewarding choice in its class to drive.

Most small or midsize crossover SUVs come with four- and six-cylinder engines. The CX-7, however, comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine only. Very similar to the engine used in the Mazdaspeed 3 sport hatchback, the turbo-4 makes 244 horsepower in this application. Acceleration is near the top of the class, though the CX-7 can be thirsty -- particularly on the highway. Some may also find the engine's power delivery to be less smooth than a V6's.

Around corners, twisty roads and in on-road driving in general, the CX-7 shines. Its firm suspension setup provides a level of precision and isolation similar to a BMW's. The steering is direct, with great effort and feel, while a sporty steering wheel helps to fool you into thinking you're driving something other than an SUV.

Based on the CX-7's mid-$20Ks price tag, its chief competitors would seem to be common small SUV choices like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Saturn Vue and Toyota RAV4 V6. However, the CX-7 is sportier than all of these vehicles. As such, its closest competitors are the Mitsubishi Outlander and the turbocharged Subaru Forester XT. Both the Mazda and the Mitsubishi exhibit edgy, almost sexy styling, and all three of these vehicles provide plenty of driving fun in exchange for reduced fuel economy. The lightweight Subaru is the speediest of the group, but it's beginning to show its age whether you're talking passenger space or handling acuity. Most buyers will find the roomier, sharper Mazda a better bet, and we'd give it a slight advantage over the Mitsu based on its superior build quality and slightly quicker acceleration. The Outlander surpasses the 2008 Mazda CX-7 when it comes to utility, though, and those seeking an entertaining and affordable SUV should check out both.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Mazda CX-7 is a midsize, five-passenger crossover SUV available in three trim levels -- Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The well-equipped Sport starts things off with 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a six-way power driver seat and a CD player. Next up is the midlevel Touring model, which adds leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat and front seat heaters. The Grand Touring is the top-of-the-line CX-7 and features xenon headlights, heated exterior mirrors, an upgraded gauge cluster, automatic headlights, automatic climate control and distinct leather upholstery.

All three trim levels can be improved with additional options. A sunroof and an upgraded Bose audio system (with an in-dash six-CD changer) are grouped together as a package. They are also included in the Technology Package, as is a navigation system, a keyless-ignition feature and a rear park-assist system with a rearview camera. A preferred equipment package consists of a cargo net, cargo tray, retracting cargo cover and a rear-bumper step plate.

Powertrains and Performance

The sole powertrain is a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.3-liter inline-4 good for 244 hp and 258 pound-feet 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. Since the CX-7 is a dedicated on-road SUV, there is no low-range gearing. In normal driving situations, the all-wheel-drive system routes 100 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels. If there is a loss of traction, up to 50 percent of engine power is automatically and quickly applied to the rear wheels.

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 very impressive, with fade-free stops from 60 mph of 113 feet. Fuel economy estimates from the EPA rate the 2008 CX-7 AWD at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway. This is about equal to its V6-powered competitors. Owners interested in towing will be somewhat limited, as the CX-7 can lug just 2,000 pounds.


Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags come standard on all trim levels. In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2008 Mazda CX-7 performed very well, garnering a top five-star rating in both front and side collisions. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CX-7 its highest rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact crashworthiness.

Interior Design and Special Features

The CX-7's radical styling carries inside, where an edgy yet functional cabin design greets drivers who are looking for a little visual excitement in their compact sport-ute. A sporty three-spoke steering wheel is very similar to the one found in the Miata, while the gauge cluster is reminiscent of the RX-8's. Build quality is also very good, and ergonomics are spot-on. However, some may object to the radio and climate display being placed atop the dash and away from its respective controls.

Most people will find the CX-7 comfortable, as its wide body provides plenty of hiproom in the backseat for those times when all five seats need to be occupied. Rear legroom is a little less than its main competitors, but despite the Mazda's severely raked roof line, headroom is good all around. Luggage capacity trails most of its competitors by about 6 cubic feet, though, with about 30 cubes of space behind the second row. Maximum capacity is 58.6 cubic feet, which is on par with the Nissan Rogue but more than 10 cubes fewer than the RAV4 and CR-V.

Driving Impressions

When it comes to handling and brake performance, the 2008 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. The CX-7 rides a bit firmer than most competitors, but it's a small price to pay for such an enjoyable drive. The engine exhibits some turbo lag (the delay between pressing the accelerator and the turbo developing its full power), and the CX-7's significant amount of torque can catch you by surprise at times. Those used to smooth V6 power deliveries may find the turbo-4 to be a little abrupt.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Let me tell you!!

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I got this car with 18k miles on it and I initially loved it despite the premium gas and the gas mileage it was great. We took it on family trips from Ohio to Florida on 3 occasions. 60k noticed an oil leak-engine ouil cooler was defective-not covered under warranty but Mazda was aware that this was a known issue and was doing nothing about it. Cost-$600+. White smoke out the exhaust-Vent kit needed-known issue not covered. Cost-$700+. At now 98k all of a sudden rattling took it in low on oil by 4 quarts?? No oil light came on or service light came on?? A week later guess what same thing..and the engine is blown! Talk about Angry... I still owe on it and I am just going to junk it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Turbo gone!!!!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I bought my 2008 CX7 with almost 5k miles. I really enjoyed driving it....until the timing chain had to be replaced at at 40000 miles, which I thought was a little soon but it was covered. About a year ago, I had to have the engine mount replaced, some bearings were worn and there was an oil leak. That was not covered over $1000 worth of repairs. The CEL came on over the weekend. Took it to the dealer ,turbo engine done....timing chain again, The car needs almost 9000 dollars worth of repairs..are you kidding me!!! The service rep told me that I did good for having 95k miles on the car without anyhing major happening before now. Going to get rid of this car!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Engine failure cx7 @ 70k

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Touring 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

We bought a Certified CX7 2008. A year and a half later the car is completely giving out. We take MAJOR care of all our cars with Synthetic Oil, so when they told us it was due to "Sludge" it was definitely a slap in the face. The engine needs to be replaced at only 70k miles. We talked to a mechanic and he told us that the turbo overhearts the engine turning everything into sludge and even melting it. Although we have a platinum coverage, the insurance is doing everything they can to blame it on us. I've been looking at reviews and it seems ALOT of you are having or had the same issues! It's horrible to keep paying for a car whose engine dies of its own malfunction. Its time Mazda owns up!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Engine failure

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

We bought a 2008 CX 7 with 62,000 miles on it in April 2012 they replaced the vvt adjuster and chain at that point. It is now March 2013 and 14,000 miles later and the vvt is out again, the turbo is out and after a $3000 quote to repair it my dealer calls back and says "well we made the repairs to your car but it is going to need an engine". That is supposed to cost $6,000. No helpis being brought from Mazda the issue is being pushed to higher up in the world of Mazda. Needless to say Mazda has not impressed me. They are telling me this is caused by "sludge". But in the next breath my dealer tells me "sludge" is normal in this engine. I wonder how this will play out.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Mazda builds crap!!!!!! buyer beware

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Sport 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Mazda's design engineers have the heads in a very dark hole. The turbo charger they put in the vehicle does not lubricate itself and fails quickly. At 70K the timing belt has stretched and failed causing a complete rebuild of the engine (BTW, Mazda won't cover any of that, wait until you get to deal with their warranty people). Mazda has design a vehicle that is very noisy inside, bad visibility from anywhere inside the car, terrible air-conditioning, the car rides like a stage coach, and worst of all Mazda does not back its warranties and hides from its responsibilities concerning its products....buyer beware

Love my baby!!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Mazda CX-7 Touring 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I purchased a 2008 CX7 in Oct 2012. 3 days after purchasing it I too had white smoke coming from the exhaust. I returned it to the dealership and they fixed it with no questions asked. Other than that, like everyone else, the gas consumption is a little low but it also depends on how you drive. If your always driving like a bat out of hell then of course your gas consumption will be less than someone takes their time or goes a slow, steady speed. The interion is comfortable (sometimes I feel like Im in a cockpit in a spaceship lol). The back is very roomy and everyone says they love it back there. This is my first SUV so I ma love, love, loving sitting higher. Great purchase so far.

Talk About The 2008 CX-7

2008 Mazda CX-7 Discussions See all Started By

I just bought this car. I now know that the little blue light in the overhead ceiling is for ambient lighting. Mine may need replacing as it is very weak...need info about doing that. :)...

I've reading these forum discussions about both the CX-7 and CX-9, and I'm still undecided about the relative merits . . . leaving aside the lower price of the CX-7 (most likely the FWD Touring for bo...

I just got a 2008 CX-7 Grand Touring (Black Cherry Mica) and a 2008 CX-9 Grand Touring (Liquid Platinum Metallic) in the last two weeks!! Very happy with both but still trying to decipher gas consumpt...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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