Mazda's car-based CX-7 crossover is the first of three vehicles the company will introduce this year specifically for the North American market. Based on the Mazda6 midsize-car platform, it's designed, like many crossovers are, to deliver the utility of a small sport utility vehicle with the driving experience of a passenger car. The CX-7 features a turbocharged engine and raked-back styling that culminates in a short rear hatch.
The CX-7 can seat up to five, and either front- or all-wheel-drive models are available. Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels offer a variety of ascending equipment levels, but all CX-7s come with six airbags, antilock brakes and basic power accessories.
The CX-7 echoes Mazda's recent passenger cars with its thin, dual-bezel headlamps and five-point grille. Below, a large lower air dam with flanking side portals recalls Mazda's Mazdaspeed6 sedan and RX-8 sports car. Fog lights and upscale touches such as chrome door handles and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps are available on higher trim levels. The side glass tapers into small rear-quarter windows, and a short liftgate features clear-lens taillamps. A raked windshield, subtle roof spoiler and dual exhaust pipes accentuate the CX-7's appearance. The CX-7 has a fully independent suspension and wears 18-inch wheels as standard equipment.
Although the CX-7's interior has elements of other Mazda vehicles — most notably the three-spoke steering wheel, circular air vents and electroluminescent instrument panel — it's largely a new look for Mazda. The dashboard ascends away from the driver, and there's a shelf just below the windshield that shades a thin information display.
In Sport form, the CX-7 has basic power accessories, remote keyless entry and a CD stereo. Midlevel Touring models add leather seats, an eight-way power driver's seat and heated front seats. The top-end Grand Touring trim adds automatic climate control. Options include a navigation system and a power moonroof.
Folding rear seats provide a nearly flat load floor when down, and the seatbacks as well as the rear cargo compartment are coated in plastic. With the rear seats up, cargo volume is 29.9 cubic feet; with the seats down, cargo volume expands to 58.6 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The CX-7's only available powerplant is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder. Adapted from the Mazdaspeed6 sedan, the engine features direct injection, a top-mounted intercooler and variable valve timing. It generates 244 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque. The engine mates to a standard six-speed-automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. A manual transmission isn't currently available.
All-disc antilock brakes, traction control, an electronic stability system and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are standard.