The Mazda CX-7 was this sporty Japanese automaker's first entrant in the hotly contested compact crossover SUV segment. Like other Mazda products, the CX-7 was designed to appeal to people who derive extra enjoyment from driving. Yet it also had most of the requisite elements that have made crossovers so popular, including carlike handling, all-wheel drive and a useful amount of cargo capacity.
We liked the CX-7, though its base four-cylinder engine was lackluster in terms of power and fuel economy. The feisty turbocharged upgrade engine easily cured the performance problem, but its fuel mileage was worse than the fuel economy of some larger, V6-powered crossovers. As more well-rounded and fuel-efficient competition sprang up, sales of Mazda's compact crossover decreased steadily. As a result, 2012 was the CX-7's last year of production.
As a used car prospect, however, the agile Mazda CX-7 could prove to be a good "dark horse" choice for some shoppers. You'd likely be able to buy one for considerably less than one of its more popular and more fuel-efficient (though less entertaining and less stylish) rivals.
Most Recent Mazda CX-7
The Mazda CX-7 was a five-passenger small crossover SUV produced as a single generation from 2007 through 2012. Apart from a slight style refresh and the addition of the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine for 2010, changes throughout the years were minimal. The most notable of those took place in 2009 and included an auxiliary audio jack being standard across the line and newly optional Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio.
The most recent version was offered in five trim levels: i SV, i Sport, i Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring. Standard on the "i" models (for 2010 and up) was a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four rated at 161 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. The "s" models boasted a 2.3-liter turbocharged-4 that pumped out 244 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The 2.5-liter engine had a five-speed automatic and a front-wheel-drive layout, while the turbo got a six-speed automatic and offered optional all-wheel drive (FWD was standard).
Standard equipment included 17-inch wheels, stability control, full power accessories and a stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Higher trims added niceties like Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel/gearshift knob, 18- or 19-inch alloys, foglights, keyless ignition/entry and automatic climate control. Options included a sunroof, a Bose sound system with satellite radio, a navigation system and a rearview camera.
Given its aggressively flared fenders and large lower grille, the CX-7's design was obviously inspired by the RX-8 and Miata. The stylish interior also reflects the Mazda CX-7's sporty aspirations. The cabin layout provides a large center storage compartment, which is big enough for a laptop or purse. A relatively long wheelbase provides ample passenger and cargo space. With all seats in use, there are about 30 cubic feet of cargo capacity. With the rear seats down, that expands to 58.6 cubic feet.
In reviews, our editors enjoyed the peppy turbocharged version of the CX-7, even though it didn't have tremendous acceleration off the line (due in part to a curb weight of nearly 4,000 pounds). The base 2.5-liter four isn't nearly as capable, although likely adequate for most folks shopping the compact crossover segment. The sport-tuned chassis allows the CX-7 to remain stable in corners while still providing decent ride quality. On the downside, the turbo engine requires expensive premium fuel and returns relatively poor gas mileage.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Mazda CX-7 page.