2007-2012 Mazda CX-7 review

Overall rating:3.5 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: July 2, 2014
2011 Mazda CX-7
2012 Mazda CX-7. Photo: Mazda

One of the few sporty SUVs on the market, the CX-7 is affordable, practical and fun to drive. Larger than Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, but smaller than Ford Escape or Honda Pilot, the CX-7 is a five-seater with a 4-cylinder engine. It is available as a front or all-wheel drive.
The 244-hp turbocharged 2.3L motor was standard. For 2010, a non-turbo 2.5L engine was added to front-wheel drive models. The interior is tight and sporty. The visibility is good in the front, but limited in rear corners. Cargo space is good; the rear seats fold down almost flat.
Where the CX-7 stands out is the driving experience. A very few SUVs feel that sporty, confident and balanced on the road. That is especially true for a turbocharged model, as it comes with wider tires. The non-turbo front-wheel drive CX-7 is more practical and better on gas. The ride is on the firm side, but quiet and comfortable. Is Mazda CX-7 reliable? Will it be expensive to maintain? How is the fuel economy? Let's find out.

2010 Mazda CX-7 interior
2010 Mazda CX-7 inside

Engine: The turbocharged direct-injected 2.3L MZR DOHC motor has plenty of power but thirsty. It's an advanced hi-tech motor, but expect higher repair costs in a long run. For the turbocharged engine, premium gasoline is recommended (required for the 2007 model).
The 161-hp non-turbo 2.5L engine shared with Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 has a more conventional design and runs on regular gasoline. The 2.5L engine is proven to be reliable and not very expensive to maintain. Unfortunately, the 2.5L non-turbo engine is only available in front-wheel drive models. Both the 2.3L-turbo and the 2.5L engines have a timing chain; there is no timing belt.

Safety: Antilock brakes, stability control (DSC), side and side curtain airbags are standard. The 2007-2010 CX-7 received five stars in frontal and side-impact NHTSA crash tests. The 2011 and newer models were not tested.

EPA Fuel Economy: MPG
L/100 km
2007 CX-7 2.3L turbo, FWD, auto 17/22 13.8/10.7
2008-2009 CX-7 2.3L turbo, FWD, auto 17/23 13.8/10.2
2010 CX-7 2.3L turbo, FWD, auto 18/25 13.1/9.4
2011-2012 CX-7 2.3L turbo, FWD, auto 18/24 13.1/9.8
2007-2009 CX-7 2.3L turbo, 4WD, auto 16/22 14.7/10.7
2010 CX-7 2.3L turbo, 4WD, auto 17/23 13.8/10.2
2011-2012 CX-7 2.3L turbo, 4WD, auto 17/21 13.8/11.2
2010-2011 CX-7 2.5L, FWD, auto 20/28 11.8/8.4
2012 CX-7 2.5L, FWD, auto 20/27 11.8/8.7

Fuel Economy: The 2010-2012 front-wheel drive CX-7 with the 2.5L engine is pretty good on gas and it can run on regular gasoline. The CX-7 2.3L-turbo is rated poorly even on premium gasoline.

Handling: True to the Mazda Zoom-Zoom spirit, the CX-7 handles sporty, with minimal body roll in turns. The steering is precise and readily snaps back to center when driving straight. The 2.3L turbo engine offers plenty of power, The 0-60 mph time is around 7.8 seconds, which is good for a 4-cylinder SUV. The 2.5L engine is okay, but it won't overpower you. Overall, the CX-7 feels like a well put-together sporty wagon rather than an SUV.

Pros: Sleek styling, sharp interior, zoom-zoom handling, crash test ratings, decent fuel economy (2.5L models), moderate price.

Cons: Rear visibility in the corners, cramped driver's place, no AWD model with 2.5L engine, fuel economy for the 2.3L turbo engine, interior materials could be better.

Read about common problems, reliability and what to look for in a used Mazda CX-7 next.