Available with front-drive or all-wheel-drive, Mazda’s CX-7 continued on as a steady if unspectacular performer for the company in 2011. This vintage of the CX-7 was essentially a carryover from 2010.
While the CX-7 SUV didn’t share its platform with any Ford products, it featured an interesting assortment of components from other Mazda products – the MPV, Mazda6, and Mazda5 all contributed to the CX-7 at one time or another.
In 2011 it was offered with a normally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder Two transmissions were available: five-speed and six-speed automatic with manual shift mode. There were three basic trim levels: GX, GS and GT. It didn’t have Mazda’s Skyactiv fuel saving technology.
The CX-7’s level of refinement was a cut above the Ford-based Mazda Tribute, but it had less cargo space and wasn’t available with a V6 engine or manual transmission. As well, the turbo models were considerably thirstier than their normally-aspirated stablemates – 12.2 litres/100 km in town versus 10.4.
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It had a high standard equipment level, with things like 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, tire pressure monitoring system, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, intermittent rear wiper, automatic headlights, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer with fuel consumption gauge, keyless entry, cloth seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, floor mats, and CD/MP3 stereo all coming with the base GX. You could get extras like larger 18-inch wheels and tires, climate control system, leather interior, heated front seats and a blind-spot monitoring system.
The CX-7 isn’t the roomiest SUV out there. Fold down all the seats and you get 1,658 litres of storage room, more than the Mitsubishi RVR, for example, but less than the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Chevrolet Equinox. Five adults will fit but it’s snug, and the back floor is not completely flat with the seats folded down.
No safety recalls were on file for this year of the CX-7, but the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a dozen technical service bulletins. These included the ubiquitous headlight lens fogging problem, a wiring issue with the airbag system resulting in random illumination of the airbag warning light, a “clunk/bang” noise when the car is moved after sitting for a lengthy period, and a “rattling” noise coming from the engine possibly due to loose timing chain.
Seven complaints from owners were registered with NHTSA. A sampling:
- “four headlamps and a battery within two years of owning the vehicle is just not right;”
- “air conditioner made loud banging noises and does not get cold;
- “the windshield makes a cracking noise as the vehicle warms up.”
Aside from a problematic climate control system, the 2011 CX-7 got good marks across the board from Consumer Reports, earning a “better than average” grade. Some comments from owners:
- “cheap touches throughout the cabin, especially the headliner;”
- “perfect for a family of four;”
- “definitely not a Subaru.”
As far as marketing researcher J.D. Power was concerned, this vintage of the CX-7 was “better than most” when it came to overall quality and predicted reliability, but just average in terms of its overall performance and design.
More comments from owners:
- “I like the smooth ride – better than my last car, the Honda CR-V;”
- “paint quality chips easily;”
- “rear seats are cramped with no legroom.”
From a base price of about $26,500 new in 2011, the CX-7 has held its value well. Depending on the model and equipment level, you’re looking at anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000, right up to around $12,000. The non-turbo GX is cheaper than the turbo models.
This was the penultimate year for the CX-7. After 2012, it was replaced in Mazda’s lineup by the CX-5.
2011 Mazda CX-7
Original base price: $26,495
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder and turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder
Horsepower: 161 and 244
Torque: 161 and 258 foot pounds
Transmission: Five and six-speed automatic with optional manual shift mode
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.4 city and 7.2 highway, non-turbo model with regular gas
Alternatives: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi RVR, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Nissan Rogue, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Dodge Journey, Acura RDX, Subaru Forester
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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