2010 Mazda CX7 i SV

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The CX-7 offers quite a bit of comfort and utility, not-to-mention style, for just $25,000. From afar, it's easy to mistake the CX-7 for Mazda's larger, more expensive CX-9 - not a bad thing at all. It's even somewhat enjoyable to drive, thanks to reasonably direct steering with good feedback.

Most four-cylinder-powered small crossovers are very slow, and the CX-7 is no exception. The 2.5-liter engine does well enough around town, but runs out of breath at highway speeds to the point that merging and passing require a bit of forethought. No issue once at speed though, as the CX-7 is commendably stable, even without the optional all-wheel drive. I drove through some heavy storms on my way home from Chicago late at night, and had no trouble keeping in my lane. The same can't be said for all vehicles, especially smaller ones.

Inside, the CX-7 seems to share a lot with the Mazda 3, which means a stylish dash, easy-to-read gauges, and an absolutely silly information display. Our CX-7 was not equipped with navigation, which made the colorful, yet tiny screen even more pointless. As in the 3, I enjoyed the ability to pause the radio, as it allowed me to answer my phone without missing a beat of Lynard Skynard's "Free Bird" (why do people always seem to call right before the awesome guitar solo?)

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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