2010 Mazda CX-7 GX
2010 Mazda CX-7 GX. Click image to enlarge

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2010 Mazda CX-7

North Vancouver, British Columbia – The Mazda CX-7 GX is new to the Mazda lineup for the 2010 model year. Starting at $27,995, the new front-wheel drive GX is $2,000 cheaper than the GS, which was the base trim last year and is now the mid-level trim below the GT.

With its new lower price, the GX gives Mazda a competitor in the entry-level crossover/SUV class which includes such notables as the Honda CR-V LX ($27,790), Toyota RAV4 base ($24,345), the new Chevrolet Equinox LS ($25,995), and the redesigned Hyundai Tucson ($TBA).

It’s worth noting too that the Mazda Tribute ($23,450) (based on the Ford Escape) continues in Mazda’s 2010 lineup as a more traditional, utilitarian alternative to the sportier CX-7.

2010 Mazda CX-7 GX
2010 Mazda CX-7 GX
2010 Mazda CX-7 GX. Click image to enlarge

The new CX-7 GX is powered by Mazda’s familiar 161-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine instead of the 244-hp turbocharged 2.3-litre motor found in the CX-7 GS ($32,295) and GT ($38,990) models. As well, the GX gets a five-speed automatic instead of a six-speed automatic transmission, and is available with front-wheel drive only while the GS and GT come with all-wheel drive only. The GX also comes with 17-inch tires instead of 18-inch (GS) and 19-inch (GT) respectively.

Like all 2010 CX-7 models, the GX receives Mazda’s new corporate front-end treatment with a larger grille flanked by smaller side grilles, a more rigid body that reduces vibration and cabin noise, and revised suspension tuning for a more comfortable ride.

Inside, there’s a revised interior with better quality plastics, a new steering wheel that telescopes in and out as well as tilting up and down, rain-sensing wipers, a new information display in the upper dash, and a new outside temperature gauge and tire pressure monitoring system.

There’s also a new optional Luxury Package ($2,995) on the base GX model that makes available leather upholstery, power driver and front passenger seats, heated front seats, automatic climate control and Bluetooth hands-free phone system.

Driving impressions

First introduced in 2006, the CX-7 with the turbocharged motor combined unusually sporty styling and performance with the utility of a compact SUV. Its car-like unit-body construction, fully independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, powerful turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability made it an exciting vehicle to drive, something not often said of small SUVs. In a test drive of the 2009 CX-7 GT last year, I wrote, “The CX-7 drives like a performance sedan – yet has the room to take the family and their gear on a weekend camping trip – and more significantly, with its available all-wheel drive and high ground clearance – a weekend skiing trip.”

2010 Mazda CX-7 GX
2010 Mazda CX-7 GX
2010 Mazda CX-7 GX. Click image to enlarge

The new GX may not have Mazda’s sophisticated Active Torque Split All-Wheel Drive system, but its standard front-wheel drive combined with traction and stability control and 206 mm (8.1 inches) of ground clearance gives it the necessary credentials to handle most winter conditions. As well, all CX-7s come with standard disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist.

While it’s not as powerful as the CX-7 GS and GT, it retains the CX-7’s balanced handling and compliant ride, braking performance and responsive steering. The CX-7 GX is a tall vehicle, so there is some lean in the corners, and its standard P215/70R17-inch all-season tires don’t have quite as much grip as the low-profile 18 and 19-inch tires on the GS and GT models, but I was quite impressed with how comfortable the ride is over rough roads, and how well controlled and stable the CX-7 is when making sudden turns and lane changes. Its rack & pinion steering with engine-rpm-sensing variable power assist provides firm, responsive steering feel at highway speeds and minimal effort when parking. The CX-7 with front-wheel drive has a turning diameter of 11.4 metres (37.4 feet) and it’s easy to park because it’s not a long vehicle and rear visibility is quite good – the rear intermittent wiper and washer helps when the rear window is iced up.

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