Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Mazda CX-7 Reviews

The most noticeable change to the 2011 Mazda CX-7 is a new, efficient 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-four. Trims starting with “i” get the 2.5-liter engine, while “s” trims get the more powerful turbocharged 2.3-liter engine. The Mazda CX-7 competes with the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, and Toyota Highlander.

The new “i” Touring trim features a power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather trim, a rearview camera, and a power moonroof. Upgrade to the line-topping Grand Touring and the "Mazda CX-7" will come standard with DVD-based navigation system, satellite radio, and an upgraded Bose stereo system.

Safety is also a priority for the 2011 Mazda CX-7. With dual front, front side-impact, and rollover curtain airbags for the front and rear rows, the 2011 CX-7 keeps passengers protected in the event of a collision.

The 2011 Mazda CX-7 ranks 6 out of 23 Affordable Compact SUVs. Reviewers love the Mazda CX-7’s sporty performance, but its cramped rear seat, small cargo area and occasionally harsh ride means that it’s not the most practical family car.

Enter the Mazda CX-7: among compact SUVs, the "Mazda CX-7" has performance that reviewers call agile and sporty. While the CX-7 straddles the compact and midsize SUV class in terms of size, it has limited cargo space – even for a compact SUV. The bottom line on the Mazda CX-7 is, if you want performance, the CX-7 delivers. But, if you want much beyond performance, reviewers say the CX-7 falls a little short.

Like the Mazda CX-7 the Chevrolet Equinox is big for a compact SUV. Unlike the CX-7, reviewers say you feel that there’s space in the interior. Reviewers also say that the Equinox is pleasant to drive and has a more comfortable ride than the CX-7.

It’s the only compact SUV that can compete with the CX-7’s performance--With the 2007 model year introduction of the CX-7, Mazda arrived late to the compact crossover party. In a bid to broaden the CX-7s appeal, Mazda added a non-turbocharged four as part of a 2010 refresh.
The CX-7’s styling remains much the same after last year’s refresh. The i Sport’s 215/70HR17 tires appear lost within wheel openings sized for low-profile 19s, and do the CX-7 no aesthetic favors. So “Sport” essentially means “base.”

The large, steeply raked windshield and the windowlettes that flank it make for a driving position that’s more minivan than SUV. There’s more shoulder room than in other compact crossovers, such that the "Mazda CX-7" feels almost mid-sized from the driver’s seat. But paradoxically there’s less legroom than in the average compact crossover. In practice, even with a five-speed automatic (the RAV4 benefits from an additional cog) acceleration is thoroughly adequate, if a bit buzzy at low rpm. For those who desire more of a rush (at the expense of fuel economy) the 244-horsepower boosted four remains available, and mandatory with all-wheel-drive. Honda and Toyota offer all-wheel-drive with the normally-aspirated fours in the CR-V and RAV4. The 2.5 performs well enough in the Mazda CX-7 that I wonder why Mazda doesn’t do the same.

I was underwhelmed by the Mazda CX-7’s handling when I first drove it about four years ago. Adding tires with tall, ride-oriented sidewalls does not help. So equipped, and further saddled with slow steering, the CX-7 feels large and soft. Overall, this is the rare Mazda that trails its competition in terms of driving enjoyment.

With the $1,750 Convenience Package (sunroof, rearview monitor, automatic climate control, power driver seat), the 2011 Mazda CX-7 i Sport lists for $25,340. (Much lower sales in recent model years have resulted in insufficient sample sizes.) With the non-turbo 2.5-liter engine the CX-7 should be reliable.

Problem is, remove the turbocharged four from the CX-7, and what little excitement the CX-7 offered along with it, and there’s no compelling reason to buy a CX-7 instead of a CR-V or RAV4 unless you really like how it looks.


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