Mazda has released details on the new CX-7 crossover SUV, a 2007 model which should be in dealerships this spring. Production of the CX-7 began last week in Hiroshima, Japan. Pricing will start at $23,750, making the curvaceous newcomer a quite comely competitor in the small SUV segment—where style is often secondary to shape.
Ahead of the game underhood as well, all CX-7s will boast 244 horsepower, courtesy of a turbocharged version of the familiar 2.3-liter four, with intercooler. Torque is rated at 258 lb./ft., at a Marianas-Trench-low 2,500 r.p.m.—and Mazda claims 99% of that is on tap all the way up to the 5,000 r.p.m. power peak. Base models will be driven by the front wheels; all-wheel-drive is optional. If the suspension has been engineered to be anywhere near as sporty as the exterior design and marketing campaigns imply, the CX-7 should rate among the best SUVs as far as handling and driving enjoyment. (We’re guessing it will; Mazda’s got quite a performance record lately, thanks to the RX-8, the new Miata, and the MazdaSpeed versions of the 3 and 6.)
Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models will be available, all with seating for five. On the safety front, every CX-7 comes with six airbags, traction and stability control systems, and ABS. Standard convenience features include cruise control, air conditioning, and power windows, mirrors and locks. Also common across the model range are 18” rims and a six-speed automatic.
Conventional wisdom has it that beneath the all-new sheetmetal sits yet another chassis derived from the CD3 architecture that underpins the Mazda6. Ford’s new Edge crossover uses the same unibody construction, although some claim the CX-7 actually borrows more from the MazdaSpeed version of the 6’s platform, for a sportier ride. The back half of the CX-7’s chassis and suspension, however, is instead related to the Mazda3 and 5 designs, meaning the CX-7’s chassis is something of a hybrid—and unique to Mazda.
No matter where the dirty bits came from, however, we’re impressed at least with the CX-7’s gestation time. This essentially all-new model took barely two years from conception to production, which bodes well for the two other new North America-only vehicles Mazda promises will follow this model.
A loaded Grand Touring CX-7, with all-wheel-drive, will run about $28,000. That includes heated leather seating with power adjustments for the driver, HID headlights, automatic climate control, and upgraded trim. A $4,000 technology package adds fun stuff like navigation, moonroof, a six-CD changer with Bose power, voice control, remote starting, and a rearview camera. (Of course, recent reports have told of grey-market CX-7s being pre-sold for nearly $60,000 to eager Russian buyers; Mazda has restricted exports to curb the gouging.)
Mazda’s naming system has been confusing—and confused—lately, but this new model actually helps clear things up. From now on, Mazda claims, all crossover SUVs will wear a CX prefix, while core models will continue with the single number system (Mazda3, Mazda6, etc.). Further, rotary-powered cars (like the RX-8) will all wear the RX designation, while conventional sports cars will be dubbed MX, as in the MX-5 Miata, which the brand has for now given up trying to get Americans to remember as just the “MX-5.” We’re not sure what this means for other non-alphanumeric models, like the Tribute, or the MPV minivan and B-series light truck. But at least it’s a start.
Bottom line: the CX-7 looks pretty, and packs impressive performance numbers at a palatable price. Mazda’s recent work has been well-received and well-built, and we expect the same here. We look forward to our first drive, and to meeting the other two vehicles they’ve got planned just for our market.