The CX-7’s windshield is raked at 66 degrees–more than some sports cars. And with a slightly detuned version of the Mazdaspeed 3’s turbocharged 2.3-liter engine as an option, it has the moves to back up those sporty looks. The direct-injected four-cylinder produces 244 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. For those who value fuel economy over speed, there’s also a normally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s available on front-wheel-drive models. The 2.5-liter is a little taxed with the weight of this two-row crossover and could benefit from the turbo’s six-speed automatic (it has to make do with a five-speed unit), but we’re glad Mazda gives buyers a choice. No matter which model you choose, the CX-7 has great steering and handling without any drawbacks in terms of ride or refinement. The CX-7 offers optional luxury features that you’ll find elsewhere in the company’s lineup, including a blind-spot warning system, a backup camera, keyless go, rain-sensing wipers, and, of course, the requisite Bluetooth integration. Wheels range from nice seventeen-inchers to aluminum nineteen-inchers that help to underline this crossover’s dynamic appearance.

DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel

Trim Levels: SV, Sport, Touring, Grand Touring

Body style: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger

Engines: 2.5L I-4, 161 hp, 161 lb-ft
2.3L turbo I-4, 244 hp, 258 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5- or 6-speed automatic

Passenger Volume: 101.7 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 1500-2000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 29.9/58.6 cu ft

For 2012, the CX-7 is Mazda’s sole entry in the compact crossover category. Previously, it was joined by the Tribute, which was a rebadged Ford Escape. Luckily, the CX-7 is good enough to go about the fight alone. It’s a couple of years old already, and even though it’s unchanged for 2012, it is genuinely entertaining to drive and is wrapped in a swoopy and sexy package–something that can’t be said for many other compact crossovers.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Blind-spot monitoring is optional, and the optional all-wheel-drive system’s Active Torque Split works together with stability control to avoid wheel spin.

All: 17-20 mpg city/21-28 mpg highway

  • Swoopy styling
  • Handling to match
  • Powerful turbo engine
  • No third row
  • AWD turbo is thirsty

Going at it alone.

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