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2009 Mazda CX-7 ReviewThe Good
The 2009 Mazda CX-7 crossover SUV delivers a sports-car feel and sleek exterior styling, while its turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides spirited acceleration with plenty of low-end torque for peppy acceleration.The Bad
Although the CX-7 offers a roomy cabin, some find the interior components lacking in quality, and many owners would like to see better gas mileage from the CX-7's turbocharged engine.
The CarGurus View
The Mazda CX-7 excels in many areas but lacks in others, so owners' opinions of the vehicle vary depending on their requirements. If you're looking for a quick, agile SUV with sporty styling and good safety features, the CX-7 will likely be a good fit for you. But if you'd like a plusher cabin with a comfortable back seat and plenty of cargo room, you might want to check out the competition first.
At a Glance
Now in its third year of production, the Mazda CX-7 crossover SUV receives only minor updates for 2009. As it has since its debut in 2007, the five-passenger CX-7 rides on a unique platform designed to meld a sports-car feel with SUV functionality. The CX-7 borrows many of its exterior elements from a number of Mazda and Ford vehicles, combining them in an aerodynamic design that most find stylish and contemporary. All three trims, including the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring, come in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
For 2009, all CX-7 trims come equipped with dual illuminated vanity mirrors and an MP3 auxiliary input jack for the audio system. The entry-level Sport trim gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob as standard equipment, as well as new optional dual heated front seats with a power-adjustable driver's seat. The high-end Grand Touring trim receives new exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals and an auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror with Homelink, as well as minor interior finishing improvements. The midlevel Touring trim rolls into 2009 with no changes.
A turbocharged 2.3-liter, direct-injection four-cylinder engine generating 244 hp drives all CX-7 trims. The engine generates 258 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 RPM, resulting in good low-end aggressiveness for a fun, spirited driving experience. In all trims, the engine links to a six-speed Sport automatic transmission with a separate gate for manual shifting.
Overall, drivers and reviewers give the turbocharged engine good marks for its performance and responsiveness. However, fuel economy remains a negative for many, with the CX-7 checking in at 17/23 mpg for front-wheel-drive trims and 16/22 for all-wheel-drive trims. The CX-7 will run on regular unleaded fuel, though Mazda recommends premium fuel for maximum performance.
The CX-7's Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system delivers power to all four wheels to provide optimal handling and safety in all types of driving conditions. The system includes multiple sensors, which monitor the road and distribute power to the front and rear wheels as needed to ensure optimal traction and stability.
Ride & Handling
The 2009 CX-7 features an independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink suspension in the rear. In addition, Mazda offsets the front springs from the shocks, which provides improved handling, especially in tight corners and on twisty roads, according to the automaker.
While the CX-7's handling doesn't quite match that of a typical sedan, most find the CX-7 agile for an SUV, especially on twisty roads and in tight spaces. However, Mazda tuned the suspension for a firmer feel. As a result, some will find the ride harsh, especially on rough road surfaces. All CX-7 trims ride on large 18-inch wheels with all-season tires.
The CX-7 does a good job of muting road noise, resulting in a quiet cabin. Drivers and passengers will find plenty of interior room and comfortable front seats for long trips, although taller adults will feel cramped in the second row, and many will find the middle seating position in the second row too hard and uncomfortable for extended travel. Storage spaces and cubbies are limited to a locking center storage console, a lockable glovebox, storage pockets in the front doors, map pockets behind the front seats, and front and rear cupholders.
Cabin & Comfort
Like its exterior, the CX-7's interior borrows materials from other Mazdas, resulting in a mish-mash of design and components. While the interior offers plenty of room, some drivers find the materials lack an upscale, quality look, with some components appearing plasticky. In addition, some drivers find the controls confusing, while others would like to see more interior flexibility and functionality.
Despite those drawbacks, the CX-7 comes well-equipped. Standard features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls, power windows and door locks, and illuminated keyless entry. The midlevel Touring trim adds heated front seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. At the top of the line, the Grand Touring trim adds automatic climate control, indirect blue interior illumination, and leather seat upholstery with a sport seat stripe.
All trims also come equipped with a 12-volt power outlet and an MP3-compatible AM/FM audio system with a CD player. Options include a power moonroof, a DVD navigation system with a seven-inch LCD screen, a navigation system with a backup camera, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with a 6-CD changer.
All trims except the entry-level Sport include a retractable cargo cover. With the rear seats up and in place, the CX-7 offers nearly 30 cubic feet of cargo space, which rates well compared to competitive midsize SUVs. However, when it comes to total cargo space, the CX-7 falls toward the bottom of its class, offering nearly 59 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. Some reviewers recommend looking elsewhere if total cargo space is a high priority.
The CX-7 gets good marks for its many safety features. It received a five-star rating, the highest possible, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for frontal- and side-impact crashes, and a four-star rating for rollover resistance. In addition, the CX-7 received a top rating of Good for frontal offset and side-impact crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, front seat-mounted side airbags, and advanced dual front airbags that reduce deployment force based on the occupants' weight and the severity of the impact all come standard on the CX-7. In addition, a Dynamic Stability Control system adjusts engine torque and applies individual brakes as needed to help drivers maintain control of the vehicle, while a traction control system adjusts the throttle and applies brakes to prevent skidding on slippery roads or during emergency maneuvers. Other standard safety features for the CX-7 include antilock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system.
What Owners Think
Owners like the Mazda CX-7's combination of sports-car driveability and SUV functionality, and overall they feel the CX-7 delivers a good value. The exterior in particular receives good marks from owners, although the design of the windshield affects visibility out the front sides of the vehicle, some note. The CX-7 also gets good marks for its quiet cabin, handling, and performance. Gas mileage for the turbocharged engine remains a sore spot with owners, however, who would like to see better fuel efficiency from the CX-7. The basic audio system also receives poor marks from owners, and some find the ride too rough.
CarGurus owners generally like the CX-7's interior, although they would like to see more storage spaces. They also like its acceleration, although some note a turbo lag when the SUV starts from a dead stop. Exterior styling remains a hit with CarGurus owners, as does the interior styling. On the downside, CarGurus owners note a certain amount of engine and exhaust noise, and also would like to see better fuel economy.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.