2009 CX-7 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda CX-7 is sporty and svelte yet functional, roomy, and comfortable. Designed to compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, the CX-7 is a sporty five-passenger vehicle that will haul nearly as much stuff as it does people. It features a powerful yet frugal turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Mazda CX-7 offers seating for five, decent cargo space, a comprehensive set of safety features and distinctive looks. We found it fun to drive, with responsive handling and good high-speed stability. Though pricier than the prime opposition, the CX-7 excels in ride and handling.
Mazda introduced the CX-7 for 2007 as a totally new crossover utility vehicle to compete against the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, among others. Crossovers, as they're called, have become the hottest segment in the auto industry. They combine the high seating position and cargo capacity of a truck-based sport utility vehicle with the agility, smoothness and fuel economy of a car. And they avoid the image of a minivan or station wagon.
For 2009, Mazda CX-7 gets an upgraded list of standard features. All models are now MP3-capable, and come with an auxiliary audio input jack. Base-level Sport models add leather wrappings for the steering wheel and shift knob. The premium Grand Touring adds a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, and turn signals are now integrated into the exterior mirror housings. Some option packages have been beefed up for 2009, some interior storage systems upgraded, and air conditioning improved.
Mazda CX-7 comes in three trim levels, all with the same engine, a 244-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with a Sport shift feature. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional ($1700).
Mazda CX-7 Sport ($23,900) is the least expensive model. Air conditioning and cloth upholstery are standard, as are cruise control and the usual complement of power windows, mirrors and locks. A six-way, manually adjustable driver's seat is standard, along with a tilt steering wheel hosting cruise and secondary audio controls, satellite radio pre-wiring, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, and carpeted floor mats. New for 2009 are a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with automatic volume control and auxiliary input jack, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Heated front seats are available ($450) and now include eight-way power adjustment for the driver. A Preferred Equipment Package ($315) adds a cargo net, cargo tray, retractable cargo cover, rear bumper guard, and wheel locks.
Mazda CX-7 Touring ($25,800) comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats with eight-way power for the driver, and the retractable cargo cover.
Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring ($26,700) upgrades with automatic climate control, unique trim for the leather seats and steering wheel, electroluminescent gauges with indirect blue lighting, auto-dimming inside mirror with a universal garage-door opener, and an outside temperature readout. Also standard are fog lamps, automatic xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, high-gloss painted wheels, and chrome door handles. New for 2009 are heated outside mirrors with integrated turn-signal repeaters. A Preferred Equipment Package ($190) for Touring and Grand Touring adds a cargo net, cargo tray, rear bumper guard, and wheel locks.
The Moonroof/Bose Audio/6CD Changer Package ($2,060), expanded for 2009, includes Sirius Satellite Radio with a six-month subscription and Bluetooth phone capability, a nine-speaker Bose sound system with a 6CD in-dash changer, and a tilt-and-slide power moonroof. The Technology Package ($4,485) includes all of that and adds a DVD-based navigation system with touch-screen LCD and voice command, Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System, rearview camera, and perimeter alarm.
Options include Sirius Satellite Radio with six month's pre-paid subscription ($430), cargo net ($50), cargo tray ($50), retractable cargo cover ($125), remote engine start ($350), auto-dim inside mirror with compass and programmable garage-door remote ($275), auto-dim inside mirror with just the compass ($200), moonroof wind deflector ($70), fog lamps ($250), all-weather floor mats ($78), front and rear mudguards ($125), Class II trailer receiver hitch with ($350) or without ($335) wiring harness, and wheel locks ($50).
Safety features on all models include frontal airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags (to minimize upper body injuries), front and rear side air curtains (to minimize head injuries) with extended inflation (for added protection in the event of a rollover) and a fold-away brake pedal assembly (to reduce threat of injury to the driver's feet in frontal crashes). All CX-7 models come with three-point seatbelts (so be sure to use them), adjustable head restraints at all outboard seating positions, and rear-seat child safety seat anchors (LATCH). To help drivers avoid accidents, the CX-7 comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes (to permit steering the car under hard braking) with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist (to maximize stopping power in emergencies); plus electronic stability control (to correct for driver error in evasive maneuvers) and traction control (to improve traction and stability on slippery surfaces).