Mazda’s CX-7 crossover SUV was, according to Mazda, engineered with their trademark ‘soul of a sportscar’.
And that’s its making and its undoing. It’s far more engaging for the driver than most of its ilk. But show it anything much more arduous than a roughish dirt road and it soon turns to water.
That said, it’s a well built, well equipped all-wheel-drive five-door wagon that has its own distinct appeal. Locally released in the closing stages of 2006, there were only two grades, the CX-7 (later renamed CX-7 Classic) and the more upmarket CX-7 Luxury.
Both versions feature six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist, traction and stability control. Extra niceties on the Luxury include leather trim, sunroof, climate control and a Bose audio system. CX-7 is five-seat only; there’s no seven seat option as found in a few competitors.
A new generation arrived in late 2009 and the range now includes a petrol 2WD and diesel AWD versions.
The 2.3-litre turbo direct injection four-cylinder engine offers quite a sporty dimension to CX-7’s tarmac performance. But in a near kg SUV it’s less than ideal for off-road treks. And its thirst for premium unleaded is far from endearing. The six-speed Activematic auto delivers smooth, positive shifting.
A firm ride, responsive steering, nimble handling and good brakes make for an on-road driving experience akin to a well sorted sedan.
CX-7 uses Mazda’s active torque split all-wheel-drive system to drive the front wheels only or proportion torque to the other axle as needed. Venture away from sealed or unsealed roads though and a lack of axle articulation, road-biased tyres, and low-slung clearances see it struggling earlier than some soft-roaders. A spacesaver spare isn’t overly practical either.
Reliability wise CX-7 holds its head high. A check for oil leaks, including around driveline mechanicals, is worthwhile. The 18” tyres can be expensive so check condition, and to improve life regular rotation and alignment is worthwhile. Watch for marked interior trims too.
Under the pump
CX7 will use between 9.5 litres and 16.0 litres of 95 RON premium unleaded every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
What will it cost?
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Ford SY Territory AWD, 2006 -2009
Spacious, practical Australian-built SUV. Borrows heavily from Falcon, easy and car-like to drive. Falcon’s proven 190kW 4.0-litre six with truck loads of low-down grunt. Brilliant six speed ZF for AWD models. Beaut family transport. Limited off-road skill. Seven seat versions. A bit thirsty. Front ball joint problems known but Ford warrant to 150,000km irrespective of age.
Hyundai Santa Fe V6, 2006 – 2009
2.7-litre V6 and four-speed auto, a bit leisurely. Seven seats available but row three probably best for kids only. Solid enough. For less-than-arduous-off-road work.
Holden Captiva V6, 2006 onwards
Korean sourced. Local Holden engineering input including 3.2-litre V6. Performs quite well, five-speed auto. Seven seat versions, kids only though. Benign on-road, modest off-road.