2012 Mazda
CX-7

MSRP:
$23,780
MPG:
20 city / 27 hwy
Engine:
2.5L, 4-cyl, 161 hp

A practical people-mover any cash-conscious mom would love – you’ll smile at the savings in a Mazda CX-7.

By Petrina Gentile

THE BIG PICTURE

There are a sea of crossover utility vehicles on the market. So when it comes to shopping for one, the choice is difficult. But narrow down the selection to price and cha-ching! The Mazda CX-7 comes out on top. Starting at only $23,780 it’s a steal.

Sadly, the Mazda CX-7 isn’t a looker – your neighbors won’t be green with envy and your girlfriends won’t gush over its design. It’s basic and run-of-the-mill in style. But it does have cute touches like the same smiling front grin found on the Mazda3. Although some hate the design, I like it. It’s recognizable and creates continuity across the brand. And besides, what it lacks on the outside it makes up for on the inside.

INTERIOR

First off, the CX-7’s name is a bit misleading. Personally I hate alpha-numeric car names — it’s just too much mumbo-jumbo to remember and often they don’t make sense. Which is the case with the CX-7. You might think it seats 7 like the name suggests, but it doesn’t — it seats 5. Its big brother, on the other hand, the CX-9 seats seven. The names should have been CX-5 and CX-7 — then the numbers would make more sense and might be easier to remember.

The inside is functional. The front seats are firm and supportive, even on long rides. In the rear seats, leggy girls will get antsy even on quick trips — there’s not much legroom for those long of limb. The rear seats could also use a bit more padding — they get uncomfortable fast. Still, the interior is smart with plenty of handy compartments to store cell phones, lipstick, magazines, and change. Cup holders in the front and rear are handy for your regular jolt o’ java. And after a workout you can store big bottles of water in the front and rear doors.

FAMILY-FRIENDLINESS

Though it doesn’t have 3 rows of seats, the front seats in the Mazda CX-7 are comfy and the rear seats are suitable for kids and tweens. The cargo area is carnivorous — there’s 29.9 cu ft so it can swallow heaps of shopping bags, groceries, strollers and sports equipment. The rear seats also fold down easily. Once dropped, you have 58.6 cu ft of room for serious cargo-carrying capacity — you can lug skis, hockey sticks, or a ladder if you need to. It’s very practical.

SAFETY

The Mazda CX-7 failed to get a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety — so it looses marks in my book. While it did receive a Good rating (which is the highest rating you can get) in frontal and side crash tests, it only received a marginal rating in roof strength tests — as a result it lost out on the coveted award.

But I do like the fact Mazda offers all-wheel-drive on the CX-7. It’s an added safety feature and a big bonus when you’re driving around on slippery, snow-drenched roads. As a Canadian, this is one feature I can’t live without in winter — even though it costs extra. It’s also thirstier than a Front Wheel Drive vehicle. The FWD base model averages 20 (city) / 27 (hwy) mpg while the AWD trim is 17 (city) / 21 (hwy) mpg.

GIZMOS AND TECH

The gizmos in the Mazda CX-7 won’t knock your socks off, but some are cool. My top-of-the-line tester has a keyless entry system: It lets you lock and unlock all the doors or tailgate by pressing a button on the driver’s door handle – just keep the key fob buried in the bottomless pit of your purse and it’ll do the trick. You can also start the engine without a key — just turn the ignition like normal. It’s a bit redundant, though — a push button start makes more sense.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

What woman needs a turbo for grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school? It’s pointless. So, skip the 4-cylinder turbo engine and go for the base model with its 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine. It has more than enough guts to get the job done. Besides it takes regular fuel; premium is recommended on the turbo for optimal engine performance.

The Mazda CX-7 is easy to drive and not too big and cumbersome to park. But when pushed, the engine is whiny — engine noise seeps into the cabin along with road and wind noise. Just crank up the tunes to drown it out. Even though it’s no speed demon or zoom zoom ride like Mazda’s slogan suggests, the CX-7 is a smooth, comfortable drive with pleasant road manners. It’ll get you from Point A to B without any headaches.

Pricing and Trim Levels

The CX-7 is a steal compared to the competition. It costs only $22,985 for the base model. And it comes with many standard features you’d expect to pay extra for, such as air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and steering wheel mounted cruise control. Other standard goodies include a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a tire pressure monitoring system, ABS with EBD, dynamic stability control, traction control, and 6 airbags. The most expensive trim, the Grand Touring, rings in at $34,335 and is loaded with AWD, a more powerful engine, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a navigation system with colour display. Even with the top model you won’t break the bank.

Final Thoughts

You’ll love the CX-7 if you’re a cash-conscious, resourceful mom who wants to stretch her buck to the max.

PRICE. PRICE. PRICE. Cheap well-equipped base model that's friendly on the pocketbook.

Fuel efficient! Mother Nature will grin everytime you drive; you’ll smile, too, everytime you fill up.

Skip the turbo engine and the premium gas. It’ll save you serious cash.

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