2009 Mazda CX-7 Review and Road Test
"An SUV which really lives up to its name"
CarAdvice Rating: (4.25)
- by Paul Maric
Almost always a car company will display a concept vehicle at a motor show. More often than not, the concept will share design traits with the car they eventually plan on releasing.
But again, more often than not, the final production version of the concept will be totally toned down and generally won’t contain any of the extreme design features of the concept.
Mazda dared to be different though. In 2004 it released the MX Crossport concept, which received great praise during the 2005 Detroit Motor Show and when it saw reality as the CX- the production version was almost identical to the concept, aside from the realistic interior, a product of its final price tag.
This type of approach has paid dividends to Mazda in a big way. Having a swish looking car won’t help unless it drives well, so I stepped behind the wheel for the week to have a steer of Mazda’s classy SUV.
Our CX-7 test vehicle was finished in a neat white, ensuring it stood out from the crowd. Evident from first glance were the flowing lines that start at the bonnet and continue through to the car’s rear. Even though this car has been on the market for about three years now, it still has a striking presence.
Bulging side guards hint at the car’s sporty intentions, as do the chunky wheels and exposed exhausts.
Inside the cabin, it’s a similar story. Although the funky LCD screen and interior layout isn’t carried over from the concept (we could expect a $100,000+ price tag if they were!) the general connotations are the same.
Our test vehicle was fitted with a reversing camera, so it also featured an LCD screen, which controls the radio fascia and switches to a rearward facing camera when reverse is selected. Curiously, satellite navigation isn’t fitted as standard equipment and can’t be optioned, quite strange when you consider the screen is there, which is half the job done.
Rear leg and headroom isn’t too flash. With the driver’s seat in my regular position, quite far back more often than not, it’s hard for an adult to remain comfortable when seated behind. The design of the car somewhat inhibits the function. It’s not overly oppressive, but on the same token it’s also no LandCruiser.
This isn’t too much of an issue though when you consider the CX-7’s target demographic. CX-7 buyers have young families and are lifestyle oriented, so in that regard it does a fine job of hauling kids.
The standard Bose sound system offers plenty of punch. Fitted with nine speakers and pumping out 240W of power, there is ample bass and exceptional treble quality. A six-disc CD-changer tops things off with regards to the audio system.
The cabin has a roomy feel to it. The windscreen has a 66-degree rake, making the front of the dashboard feel like it’s very distant.
Boot room is average, and again, the design impinges on the function although 400-litres of capacity is on offer. Boot opening room is impressive though, allowing the loading and unloading of cargo with great ease.
Driving the CX-7 is a mixed bag. Turn the engine over and a humble silence engulfs the cabin. The 2.3-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine produces 175kW and 350Nm, which sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s what I thought until I had a look at the spec sheet and drove the CX-7. It tips the scales at 1771kg and is controlled by an often-eager six-speed automatic gearbox. The claimed fuel efficiency figure of 11.5-litres/100km is also a farfetched expectation of the 69-litre fuel tank. It also doesn’t help that the minimum fuel requirement is 95RON.
The CX-7 definitely moves with intention when you flatten the throttle. Once it’s on boost, the 1.7-tonne SUV feels quite agile and can be thrown into corners with confidence. Line up a tight bend and the accurate and responsive steering of the sporty SUV comes into play. Sharp changes in direction don’t seem to faze the CX-7, likewise with hard braking.
Brakes are 296mm at the front and 302mm rear, which serve well to keep the CX-7 in check. Adequate brake feel and a fluid motion make it easy to drive at the limits. Body roll is well controlled, making it consistently above average, which again is surprising for an SUV.
Back in the city, the CX-7 makes for a pleasurable driving experience. The suspension is firm enough for a sporty ride, but soaks up bumps in the road with ease. There’s seldom a point during city driving when the suspension intrudes on passenger comfort.
Parking is now made easy with the aid of the reversing camera, which is of good quality and allows an almost 180-degree view of the space behind the car. Visibility out the rear is pretty limited otherwise though.
There are two models on offer in the CX-7 range. There’s the CX-7 and the CX-7 Luxury. Standard features fitted to the CX-7 include: air-conditioning; power mirrors; alloy wheels; trip computer; steering wheel audio controls; six-disc CD player; auto dimming rear vision mirror and power windows.
The CX-7 Luxury gets the following features in addition to the CX-7: dual zone climate control; electric sunroof; heated exterior mirrors; leather interior; Bose sound system; eight-way electric driver’s seat and heated front seats.
Safety features standard across the range include: ABS brakes with EBD and BA; Dynamic Stability Control (Mazda’s name for ESP); driver and front passenger airbags; front passenger side airbags and full length curtain airbags.
The CX-7 is priced at $41,140, while the CX-7 Luxury is priced at $46,990.
The Mazda CX-7 offers exceptional value for money. Although it won’t go off-road in any commendable fashion, and it has never been marketed as a car that will do so, it manages to excel in day-to-day city driving, along with spirited drives on your favourite roads.
It’s hard to fault the CX-7. Aside from the miserable fuel consumption, around 14.3-litres/100km on test, the CX-7 is a car that deserves to be high on any prospective purchaser’s list.
If you haven’t had the chance to do so yet, take one for a test drive. I’m sure you will be impressed.
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