The Mazda CX-7, along with the CX-9, ushered in the era of Mazda crossovers giving them something that just wasn’t a badge engineered Ford like the Tribute was.

Debuting at the 2005 Detroit show as a concept called the MX-Crossport, it was supposedly designed to combine the sportiness of the RX-8 and the practicality of the Tribute. Mazda described it as:“The MX-Crossport transcends the existing categories of SUV and crossovers, and steps into the realm of sports car where the driver can experience the world of sports cars every time they get behind the wheel.” Yea whatever.

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The production version debuted not long after for the 2007 model year at the 2006 LA Auto show. Its competitors at the time were vehicles like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Edge.Built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan, it was a vehicle made from parts from all over the place: it rode on the joint Ford/Mazda CD3 platform that also underpinned the CX-9 and Edge/MKX and weirdly the Mazda6; it used the front suspension from the MPV van and the rear suspension from the Mazda5; the engine and AWD system were pulled from the MazdaSpeed6.

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Speaking of the engine, like I mentioned, it was pulled from the MazdaSpeed6. A 2.3 turbo unit, it had 244 horses and 258 lb/ft of torque. This was routed to an AWD system through a 6 speed auto. Other markets saw a 6 speed manual trans we didn’t get here. This was kind of a knock against it by auto outlets at the time. Other markets saw a 2.5 I4 or a 2.2 liter diesel along with a 5 speed auto as well.

Testers praised the driving dynamics of it. It really epitomized Mazda’s Zoom Zoom tagline at the time. Car&Driver described it as “an SUV doing a rally car impression”. Part of its good driving dynamics came from its relatively low curb weight of 3916 lbs. This also helped it achieve .80 g on a skidpad and 70-0 stops in 167 feet which was comparable to some sports sedans and sports cars from the time.

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Around 2010 saw a refresh of the CX-7 giving it revised front and rear fascias as well as different interior gauges along with Bluetooth connectivity and a Blind Spot Monitoring system.

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It wasn’t all praise though as it had a few hits against it. The aforementioned lack of a manual option was a main one. The engine, although performance derived from MazsdaSpeed duty was described as thrashy coarse and gutless. 0-60 came in a letdown of 7.4 seconds with power falling off too soon before its redline of 6500. Also fuel economy was poor, something another engine option or a manual could have remedied. C&D pointed out in their test that its overall of 19 mpg was 1 worse than the Hemi powered Dodge Magnum (R.I.P) they had recently tested.

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CX-7’s haven’t seemed to hold up well over the years either and also seem to have had reliability problems. Research online indicates that the hodgepodge of various Mazda parts gave people problems as well as blown turbos, some on engines with relatively low miles. Some people on forums stated to avoid it altogether based solely on the engine alone. Whatever problems it had though, the CX-7 was the start of Mazda’s crossover foray that has grown to include the CX-3,CX-30,CX-5 and CX-9 who are all way better vehicles in every regard.