Surely anyone who watches television has seen Mazda's commercial: The auto enthusiast with his ear to the ground proclaiming the sound of the approaching CX-7 can only be a high revving sports car. The CX-7, with definite sports car inclinations, of course is a CUV, the one nobody saw coming according to Mazda.
There's a balance point at which a vehicle designated as a sport utility variant but is imbued with racy auto characteristics has got to look more like a car, or perhaps a car-based wagon. The crisp handling CX-7 approaches but manages to stop short of, crossing that point with its lower stance, sleeked back windshield (like someone's face in a wind tunnel), dual exhaust and aggressive nose. A saving grace for the category designation is the adequate rear storage, fold flat floor with flipable mud mat, and a reported ability to tow some 2,000 pounds.
Unlike many crossover SUVs, the front-drive-based CX-7 carries a smaller engine under the hood. The specially-tuned standard turbocharged 2.3L inline four (from the high performance MAZDASPEED6) pounds out 244-horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of grunt generating torque paired with a performance sensitive six-speed automatic. The result is power when needed; better mileage when not -- although best fuel economy is 17/24. But it can kick from 0 to 60 in just under 8 seconds. (Maybe that guy's hearing wasn't so bad after all.)
CX-7 also sports a darling in techno touches: Keyless entry and start, with a no-key twist button knob to kick it to life. The launching "key" remains in a pocket or purse. A center console locks treasures safely away.
The CX-7 base starts at a modest $23,750. Sport models or tempting options such as all-wheel-drive, glass moonroof, DVD-based nav system, SIRIUS satellite radio and remote start can kick that up considerably.
And despite the similarity of names with a merely a two-digit designation difference, CX-7 is unlike Mazda's CX-9 that (another numbers game here) seats seven.
Click Here to Read RTM's 2007 Mazda CX-7 Road Test