I forgot that the CX-7 is powered by the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was in the short-lived Mazdaspeed6 sport sedan. This engine’s peaky, nonlinear character was one of the reasons that sedan didn’t find an audience. It’s better here in the CX-7 crossover, but it’s not Mazda’s best current powertrain effort. You can learn to live with it, to modulate the accelerator pedal, and to use the manual gate for the six-speed automatic, but all told, it’s somewhat lacking.
Other than that, I hadn’t driven a CX-7 for a while and it’s still a nice competitor to the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe, and the like. Our Grand Touring edition had a pleasant interior with heated seats, leather, automatic climate control, and the typical modern Mazda center stack design with a miniature nav system screen, a reasonable compromise.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
It was a chilly 14 degrees on the evening I drove the CX-7. The leather seats were frigid and transmitted the chill straight through the seat of my pants. So I turned the seat heaters on full blast and fiddled with the rest of the controls – mirrors, steering wheel, radio – to get them set the way I like. By the time I was done with that, the seats had already started to heat up nicely, and the chill was waning. So – at least the seat heaters work quite well in the CX-7, thank you Mazda.
On my 10-mile short drive home, I encounter a fair amount of broken, uneven pavement, and the CX-7’s ride quality over that kind of surface is a little rough. Of course, the fact that the Grand Touring model is fitted with 19-inch wheels likely contributes to this. Perhaps that’s another reason that I (and, it appears, many of my colleagues) prefer the CX-7 with the 2.5-liter normally aspirated engine and 17-inch wheels.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The turbocharger adds a little extra zoom to the CX-7’s recipe, but I still prefer the normally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder we tested earlier this year in a front-wheel-drive CX-7. It was not only less expensive and less peaky than this Grand Touring, but the SV I still carried some nice features, and remarkably, wasn’t any less sharp or fun to drive.
Front-wheel-drive, coupled with traction control and a good set of all-season or snow tires, should be enough to get you through most slippery situations, but if you absolutely need your next compact crossover to have all-wheel-drive and a turbocharger, I’d take a good long look at Subaru’s Forester–which felt peppier, at least–before settling down with a CX-7 like this.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
I’m still not sure I like the Mazda’s facelift of the CX-7. The hood and windshield follow the same angle giving the front end more of a minivan than a sport-ute look. From the inside though, these proportions make the CX-7 easy to drive. The large windshield, low cowl, and short hood and front overhang combine to create an expansive view of the road ahead. And, the small, triangular side windows forward of the rear-view mirrors seem unnecessary at first but the additional light they let it really brightens up the mostly black interior and visually shortens the deep dash.
Driving the CX-7 is no revelation, but it’s pleasant and mostly drama free. The only negative worth mentioning is the poor ride quality over broken pavement. The suspension soaks up undulations with ease but vibrations from deep cracks and holes are transmitted into the cabin.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
The turbocharged CX-7 didn’t blow my mind, nor did I hate the time I spent behind the wheel. The exterior is somewhat stylish, and it has a nice interior with leather seating, heated seats, and Mazda’s signature tiny navigation screen. But the CX-7 felt underpowered with the noisy 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, and the gas mileage isn’t very impressive either with 17 city and 23 highway.
However, the Bose 9-speaker sound system sounds great; it also does a nice job of hiding the wind noise and, as others have mentioned, the road noise created by the large 19-inch wheels.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
2010 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring AWD
Base price (including destination): $33,635
Price as tested: $33,780
Automatic xenon headlamps w/ manual leveling
8-way power river seat w/memory
4-way power passenger seat
Auto-dimming mirror w/ homelink
Heated front seats
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Bluetooth hands free phone/audio
Rain sensing wipers
9-speaker Bose sound system
Blindspot monitoring system
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Scuff plates – $145
Key options not on vehicle:
DVD entertainment system – $1200
Remote engine start – $350
17 / 23 / 19 mpg
Size: 2.3L turbocharged and intercooled DI I-4
Horsepower: 244 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Weight: 4001 lbs
19 x 7.5 in. wheels
235/55 all-season tires