Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Mazda CX-7i TouringPleasant to look at, maddening to tech up.
-Now, there's a misconception out there that the CX-7 is a Mazda 6 turned into a crossover. Not at all. It's actually a completely different platform. The last time Mazda had a mid-sized crossover was back when they made the Navajo, which was paired up with the Ford, what, Explorer of that age? I don't remember. But I think it's a really good looking SUV, especially for the price. It looks a lot better, to my eye, than the MSRP would suggest. Let's check the tech. You know, it's a really nice cabin inside the CX-7. Too bad it doesn't have any tech at this trim level. Let me explain how this works. If you get a Mazda CX-7 in the i category, which we have here, it's kind of a lower trim. If you s category, that's where you can get into the turbo motor, all wheel drive if you like, and some really good tech options. Here, you're really limited. That's my LCD screen. That's all I've got to work with. You cannot option navigation in this guy. This little helper screen on the left is fairly useful. What does it show? It'll show you various sorts of vehicle maintenance stuff, your average fuel economy and speed, and a pretty good music display. That's nice to have also. And that's it. Over on the right is their rendition of the traditional Japanese eyebrow screen, which gives you all the basics always there, a persistent display--always a good idea. Your media sources are a 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Again, hmm, you know. If you load that up with MP3 or WMA discs, which it will digest, you can get a lot of tracks in there, so it's kind of a virtual iPod. That's good because there's no iPod connector on this car: not dedicated nor via USB. The best you've got is a standard AUX jack down here in the console. AUX brings you two, either Bluetooth audio or that AUX jack we saw in the console. Notice on Bluetooth audio, I am getting my meta tags. That's nice. Now, here's an interesting feature they kinda took from the GM playbook. See where it says "push for play/pause" down here? If you're on a radio station for example, I can hit this guy for pause. When I pause it, it'll hold my radio playback. I'm not sure how much of a buffer it's got, and then it'll pick it up later when I push that button. Now, all that stuff goes out of a Bose audio system. Again, we're at the Touring level on this i family of CX-7. This is really complicated. Over here, your audio controls, they have Audiopilot, which is the noise cancellation thing; then, of course, bass, treble, fader, balance. That's about it. There's no mid-range or anything like that. Now, notice you also get a back up camera on that little screen, which is interesting. It's a nice feature, again, on a car where you can't even option navigation (weird mixed messages here), where you can't get an iPod connector, where you can't get USB. But you got pause/play of audio and you got a back up camera. Hmm. The camera's nice and sharp. You know, it's funny. When screens get smaller, they look better. This is why your iPhone looks so great and it's hardly even trying. Small screens tend to look really sharp. This one benefits from that but, again, I felt always like it was claustrophobic. Like, do I really have a good idea what's back there? In this case, I'd rather have poorer resolution and more real estate for a back up camera. And that, of course, is connected to our reverse gear of our 5-speed automatic--the only gear box available on this car. Pretty straightforward stuff, back to drive, and then over here for your slapstick for your forward for downshift, back upshift, no paddles on the wheel, and I don't like the way they've got the shifting arranged. That's not intuitive to me. For me, an upshift is when you go up or forward, and a downshift is when you go down or back. They've got it flipped. You get used to it if you buy this car, but not if you're just driving it for a short while. Now, as I mentioned, we're looking at an i trim CX-7 here. That means we've got a 2.5-liter in-line 4, naturally-aspirated sitting side saddle across the front driving the front wheels only. It's a very impressive engine, to be honest: 161 horsepower, 161 foot-pounds of torque. Hmm, you know, kinda, hmm, fair to midland, and more like fair. This guy weighs 3500 pounds and has the profile of a large loaf of bread. So, 0 to 60 is a leisurely 9.8. MPG though is pretty good for a big, heavy loaf of bread, 20/28. If you get an s trim vehicle, lots of things change. The engine actually gets smaller, 2.3 liters, but turbo-charged and probably pretty high strung because they're ringing 244 horsepower with that guy. You also have the choice of all-wheel drive should you want it, and you get a 6-speed automatic. But that's another video. Okay. What's it like driving a refrigerator? It's kind of appliance-like. I don't mean the undue respect. It's a very pleasant vehicle off the line. Right off the get, they've got it geared right and they've got the software program right where you feel like you've got really good perky torque. It's later on when you're really starting to force the speed above about 40, or work your way up a grade at highway speed that things begin to get a little bit crummy. It starts to become a vehicle that's just underpowered. The handling is a-- is nice. Mazda has always done a good job of having a tight, yet not tiring, suspension in my experience. So, this car would be a great long-legged cruiser, but at the same time never feels wallowy or loafy. You know, it does-- it does nothing badly. I'd like to consider that 2.3-liter turbo engine, but my concern is in a 3500-pound vehicle with big wind resistance that you're going to have a-- a high-strung, very peaky motor. That's small displacement. They must be blowing the hell out of it to get 244 and sufficient torque to make a big difference. So, I don't know if that's gonna be more satisfying than this guy. Shifting helps a bit, but lack of horsepower and torque is lack of horsepower and torque. There's no way around that, and if you see back there, lack of a third row of course. You have a spacious two-row. That's kinda how I feel about this car and inside, it's quite nice. The light interior does help. But nothing cramped about it even though it's only a mid-size. Okay. Let's price our 2011 Mazda CX-7 i Touring. So again, the i family is the bottom 3 cars I think, Touring is the top level of that. So, this is definitely the middle of the pack. $27,200 is your price. It includes just about all the tech I showed you which, in many cases, is missing some key parts. And on the i family, you can't even option into things like navigation. That's where you gonna wanna consider the s with the turbo motor, and better overhead. You can put a really dopey rear seat entertainment system in this guy. It's 1200 bucks. Don't do it. It's one of those center-of-the-car ceiling mounts. It drops down right in the way of your rearview mirror and looks real aftermarket from the shots I've seen. Just go buy a couple of iPads and save money.