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Full Test: 2007 Mazda CX-7 AWD Grand Touring

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By Dan Edmunds Email

Date posted: 04-20-2006

Mazda isn't really comfortable with the C-word. Oh sure, the company refers to the all-new 2007 Mazda CX-7 as a "crossover" all the time in public. But it doesn't really think the term is entirely appropriate. Crossing between what and what else, one might ask? Instead it boldly proclaims that the CX-7 is an SUV with the "soul of a sports car." Uh-huh.

Sports car concept?

CX-7 Program Manager Shunsuke Kawasaki coined the term "metropolitan hawk" to help his design team understand his vision. He wanted his designers to fuse the conflicting ideas of urban hip/cool and the great outdoors — or, more to the point, sports car and SUV. Usually when we hear this, we brace ourselves for the usual stickers-make-me-go-faster sports treatment.

But our initial skepticism took a hit the first time we saw the CX-7. It looks good in photographs, but it's even better in 3-D, an impression quickly reinforced by the double-takes it received from drivers of tweaked-up Civics, GTIs and the like.

Instead of attempting the square-peg route of making an SUV look sporty, Kawasaki's design philosophy was to turn a Mazda RX-8 into an SUV. Important RX-8 design cues that have landed on the CX-7 are the massive, blacked-out air intake and the pronounced front fender bulges.

But the design element Kawasaki insisted on was the CX-7's steeply raked windshield, which at 66 degrees is reclined slightly more than an RX-8. This moves the driver farther aft, explaining the 108.3-inch wheelbase, 3.6 and 5.0 inches longer than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, respectively.

Inside the CX-7, Mr. Kawasaki strove to establish a distinct cockpit feeling. The raked windshield and seating position help here, while still providing a generous 38.2 inches of with-sunroof headroom — plenty for this 6-foot-2-inch tester. The seats are grippy and comfortable, and the three-spoke steering wheel looks identical to the one that guides our 2006 MX-5 Miata.

Less obvious is a center console that's built up higher to mimic the relationship between steering wheel and shifter found in the RX-8. Manual-mode flogging of the six-speed automatic transmission is encouraged by this layout, as we didn't have to drop our hand far from the wheel to grab a gear. The design also creates a cavernous lockable center storage compartment that can swallow a purse or laptop whole.

I could've had a V6

The final piece of the sports car puzzle is the engine. Mazda installed the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found under the hood of the Mazdaspeed 6 sedan, but retuned it to broaden the torque curve and to be more "compatible" with the six-speed automatic transmission.

This was primarily accomplished by reducing the turbo inlet size to make it spin up faster. The changes dropped horsepower from 274 to 244, but it peaks at 5,000 instead of 5,500 rpm. Torque is similarly affected, dropping from 280 to 258 pound-feet, while coming on at 2,500 versus 3,000 rpm.

Our nearly loaded Grand Touring test car had the $1,700 all-wheel-drive (AWD) upgrade. Power is metered to the rear axle via two magnetic clutches in the active torque split mechanism. Torque bias shifts continuously from a nominal 100-percent front bias up to an even 50/50 front/rear split. We found no locking mechanism, indicating that off-road performance is not the goal for the CX-7, a point supported by its non-aggressive all-season tires.

Because the CX-7 is heavy, with a curb weight of 3,929 pounds, performance is good, but not great. Our staffers found it quite stout accelerating out of corners and reported sweat-free two-lane passing moves. But it wasn't exactly stellar off the line. The CX-7 simply got beat to 60 mph by a V6 RAV4 we tested on the same day, posting a time of 7.7 seconds versus the RAV's 7.1 seconds. Ouch.

Compared to an earlier test of a 3.5-liter V6 Murano S, however, the Mazda does quite well, edging it to 60 mph by 0.2 second and legging it out to a 0.4-second win at the quarter-mile.

The Toyota delivers better observed fuel economy — 19 mpg compared to the 16.6 we measured in the Mazda. Oh, and the RAV does all that on regular unleaded, while the CX-7 needs premium.

Tell me some good news

When it comes to handling and brake performance, the Mazda CX-7 lives up to the "soul of a sports car" hype.

The hydraulic power steering is nicely weighted, and the effort increases in direct proportion to the cornering forces. This SUV feels very stable in turns and changes direction quickly, while maintaining good body roll control and providing just the right hint of understeer. If you get it all wrong, Mazda's Vehicle Dynamic Control stability control system is standard. There is no "off" button, but it's tuned so we didn't notice its presence, even when driving hard, unlike the RAV4 system's nervous-nanny finger-wagging character.

Because of all this, the CX-7 countertrounces the RAV4, posting a slalom time of 64.3 mph, way ahead of the Toyota's 61.3-mph effort. On the back roads, this shows itself as the ability to carry more speed through turns, and the poise to allow you to hammer the throttle down harder on corner exits. Zoom-zoom, indeed. The CX-7 does ride a bit less soft than the RAV4, but the degradation is small.

The brakes are freaking awesome. Unlike most competitors, all four of the CX-7's rotors are ventilated, not just the fronts. And the front calipers are two-piston units, not single pistons as is the usual custom. This allows for a larger pad, with more heat capacity. Our track test numbers were simply outstanding, with 60-0 stops taking a mere 113 feet, with no fade or smelly aftereffects.

Enough sport, on to utility

While the obvious competitors for the Mazda CX-7 are the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V, it has more in common, sizewise, with the larger and vastly more expensive Nissan Murano. It's only 0.3-inch narrower, with a wheelbase and overall length closer to the Nissan than the other two.

The 60/40-split rear seats can be folded down easily, using remote levers accessible from the hatch area. When folded down, a 70-inch flat floor is created. Seats folded up, we still had room for a couple of dozen traffic cones, cameras and test gear. What we didn't discover until after we smudged the carpet was the reversible floor insert, which can be flipped over to reveal a rubberized side for carrying dirty stuff — like cones. Oops! Send us the detailing bill.

You get a lot for your money

Our test car was loaded with everything except the Technology package — which means we didn't have a navigation system, rearview camera, voice-control system or smart key. Still, it rang up at $30,145. A V6 RAV4, equipped similarly, and leaving out the third row, costs only $250 less. But our CX-7 re-takes the lead when you factor in the included xenon HID headlamps, which the RAV4 doesn't offer. An equivalent Murano comes out somewhere north of $36,000.

The really good news is that all of the performance and safety stuff — the 2.3-liter turbo engine, six-speed automatic tranny, P235/60R18 tires, alloy wheels, six airbags, ABS brakes, stability control and cruise control — is standard on even the lowest-priced front-wheel-drive base model, called Sport, which you can get into for $24,310. The midlevel FWD Touring model, which adds leather-trimmed seats, front seat heaters and an eight-way power driver seat, goes for $26,060.

So if you have a fun-to-drive car in your driveway and you want a fun-to-drive SUV to park next to it, the 2007 Mazda CX-7 is for you.

Posted Image

Link: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...cleId=109915#14 (More at link)

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lol I made this thread too, but in the Asian forums...oops! I dunno how to delete it tho...

Anyway I really like the CX-7. It looksgreat and seems to handle well too.

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I like it, too. Different enough to catch some attention but not different just for the sake of being different and ending up looking weird.

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It looks cool, but does the world need another FWD-biased 4,000lb 5 seat crossover...it's like a mild update of the Murano in Mazda clothes...

Gimme a 6 wagon with Bizzaks for the snow days...I'll save $4,000, get 5 mpg better, drive circles around this thing and have a unique product I won't see coming and going....I jsut can't believe Mazda went their own way to develop an MKX/edge alternative and came up with a 4 cyl. behemoth that it no practical way betters those two...and they're no great shakes either, I might add.

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It looks cool, but does the world need another FWD-biased 4,000lb 5 seat crossover...it's like a mild update of the Murano in Mazda clothes...

Gimme a 6 wagon with Bizzaks for the snow days...I'll save $4,000, get 5 mpg better, drive circles around this thing and have a unique product I won't see coming and going....I jsut can't believe Mazda went their own way to develop an MKX/edge alternative and came up with a 4 cyl. behemoth that it no practical way betters those two...and they're no great shakes either, I might add.

....update of the Murano....for me that's good as I've always liked the size and sportiness of the Murano, but never really liked the styling or CVT.

CX-7 actually does NOT share a platform with the Edge/MKX. The new, upcoming CX-9 WILL share a platform with the Edge/MKX and will share those vehicles' 3.5L V6.

I believe the CX-7 is built off the Mazda6 architecture......

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reg, you own an Aztek.

"at least it gets a reaction"

hey i bought the aztek because it was cheap. not because of liking the styling.

this cx-7 will sell for 10 grand+ more than what i got my tek for, at that price it better have styling.

Edited by regfootball

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no v6, no buy

Yeah, it only has a turbo 4 that that makes 244 hp and is couples to a 6-speed...VS that mighty V6 in the Aztek with it's... 185 hp and 4-speed autobox

hmm...

:scratchchin:

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i bet that turbo in a 4000 pund vehicle needs to have the piss revved out of it to get its measly 7.7 0-60. note: rav 4 is quicker.

look at the 0-60 and 5-60 times for a competitor like the Subaru forester xt......the 0-60 and 5-60 are wildly different which signified you have to depends too much on winding up the turbo.

Edited by regfootball

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I thought it was built off the Mazda3 architecture.

Yeah it's either the 3 OR 6 architecture....but I'm most positive it's NOT on Ford's Edge platform.....that's the CX-9.

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i bet that turbo in a 4000 pund vehicle needs to have the piss revved out of it to get its measly 7.7 0-60.  note: rav 4 is quicker. 

look at the 0-60 and 5-60 times for a competitor like the Subaru forester xt......the 0-60 and 5-60 are wildly different which signified you have to depends too much on winding up the turbo.

Well, I'm going to make a forecast that the CX-7 will certainlly NOT be peaky....and will most likely be a strong performer all across the rev range.

I was extremely impressed with this same basic powertrain in the MazdaSpeed6 that I drove. I know that one was more powerful....and lighter....but remember the turbo in the CX-7 was retuned to produce power and torque at slightly lower revs...and to better bolster low-end torque.

The basic engine package was sound.....and even with the "peakier" MazdaSpeed6, turbo-lag was pretty much a non-issue....and I found the engine to be refined and a sweet revver....

And remember.....with an automatic CX-7, there's no opportunity for a "hard launch" to get those awesome performance numbers as you can in the Suburu....where you can rev the engine up to 5,000rpms and side-step the clutch to try to get maximum attack out of the AWD traction.

SO......a 7.7sec 0-60 time for the CX-7 sounds pretty damn impressive to me....even if RAV4 is still quicker.....CX-7 will stay with or outrun any other competing SUV....

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It's not very attractive...but better than the Murano (what isn't?)

Werd, the CX-7 and Murano are my favorite non-lux, midsize 'utes to look at.

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the same Mazdaspeed 6 that's been getting slammed for a wholly unrefined engine sound by the buff books? great trait to have in an SUV.

point: a v6 would be better. Especially since this turbo four is mated to an AUTOMATIC, which to me suggests not much for SERIOUS sporting pretensions to begin with.

Well, I'm going to make a forecast that the CX-7 will certainlly NOT be peaky....and will most likely be a strong performer all across the rev range.

I was extremely impressed with this same basic powertrain in the MazdaSpeed6 that I drove.  I know that one was more powerful....and lighter....but remember the turbo in the CX-7 was retuned to produce power and torque at slightly lower revs...and to better bolster low-end torque.

The basic engine package was sound.....and even with the "peakier" MazdaSpeed6, turbo-lag was pretty much a non-issue....and I found the engine to be refined and a sweet revver....

And remember.....with an automatic CX-7, there's no opportunity for a "hard launch" to get those awesome performance numbers as you can in the Suburu....where you can rev the engine up to 5,000rpms and side-step the clutch to try to get maximum attack out of the AWD traction.

SO......a 7.7sec 0-60 time for the CX-7 sounds pretty damn impressive to me....even if RAV4 is still quicker.....CX-7 will stay with or outrun any other competing SUV....

Edited by regfootball

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A sporty SUV or SUV-inspired crossover is an oxymoron. Yes, you can have your Land Rover Supercharged, BMW X5 and Porche Cayenne but are they really "sporty?"

I am sure Mazda is offering this engine due to gas prices, too, and to lighten an already overweight vehicle.

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the same Mazdaspeed 6 that's been getting slammed for a wholly unrefined engine sound by the buff books?  great trait to have in an SUV.

point: a v6 would be better.  Especially since this turbo four is mated to an AUTOMATIC, which to me suggests not much for SERIOUS sporting pretensions to begin with.

First of all, I disagree with the buff mags.

I've also put a significant amount of mileage on a MazdaSpeed6....and found the engine refined, punchy, and smooth revving.

Have you driven a MazdaSpeed6?

AND.....turbos are KNOWN to work exceptionally well with automatic transmissions.....sure you can't get a high-rpm, clutch-drop-launch to get those impressive 0-60 numbers.....but an automatic has a better chance, in normal driving, of keeping a turbo "on the boil" due to it's more efficient shifting.

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A sporty SUV or SUV-inspired crossover is an oxymoron.  Yes, you can have your Land Rover Supercharged, BMW X5 and Porche Cayenne but are they really "sporty?"

Absolutely.....

I haven't driven a LRSC, or Cayenne, but the X5 4.4i with the sport package truly does handle like a sport sedan.

Responsive steering, firm ride, lack of body roll, powerful engine, great V8 exhaust note, great roadholding, etc.....all these things add quite a touch of "sportiness" to the BMW "SUV."

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....update of the Murano....for me that's good as I've always liked the size and sportiness of the Murano, but never really liked the styling or CVT.

CX-7 actually does NOT share a platform with the Edge/MKX.  The new, upcoming CX-9 WILL share a platform with the Edge/MKX and will share those vehicles' 3.5L V6.

I believe the CX-7 is built off the Mazda6 architecture......

Murano is a judgement call.

The CX-7 is 6-based, as is the MKX/Edge--different development programs....seems like the 3 could've shared an 'architecture' without too much trouble. Waste of resources.

If it was a 7 seater, at least it would have an USP.

Just MO.

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