2011 Mazda CX-7 GX
2011 Mazda CX-7 GX. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2011 Mazda CX-7

With the mid-sized crossover segment hotter than a two-dollar pistol, it’s pretty easy for vehicles to get lost in the shuffle as the latest offerings get all the media attention and advertising dollars. The hot commodities for 2011 are the new Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and refreshed Ford Edge. Last year the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain basked in the limelight.

And way back in 2006 (introduced as a 2007) it was the radical Mazda CX-7 with its steeply raked windscreen and sculpted front fenders that had the tongues a-waggin’.

A recent stint behind the wheel of the front-wheel-drive 2011 CX-7 GX drove home the fact that shoppers should not simply default to what they spy in the glossiest ads. This Mazda holds up as one of the better crossovers on the market, especially if style, build quality and driving dynamics are high on your priority list.

For 2010, the CX-7 underwent a mid-life makeover, getting Mazda’s leering corporate visage, interior upgrades, structural strengthening and improved sound insulation. Of more significance was the availability of an entry-level GX front-wheel-drive-only model powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four putting out 161 hp and 161 lb.-ft. of torque.

2011 Mazda CX-7 GX
2011 Mazda CX-7 GX. Click image to enlarge

Priced at $27,995, this got the CX-7 under the 30 grand threshold, as the only model pervious was the pricier all-wheel-drive turbo version.
For 2011, the GX’s price drops by $1,500 to $26,495. To get into all-wheel-drive, the GS starts at $29,995.

My GX tester was fitted with the $2,995 Luxury Package that added power moonroof, leather upholstery and door trims, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated seats (eight-way power driver’s with manual lumbar support and four-way power passenger), Bluetooth and automatic climate control.

This is on top of the GX’s standard 17-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, telescopic steering wheel, traction and stability control, brake assist and Multi Information Display (MID).

First impressions of the CX-7 GX are favourable. The interior is stylish and well screwed together featuring soft-touch plastics and nicely padded arm rests on the doors (one can’t overstate the importance of the tactile experience), a multi-function steering wheel and some tasteful dark-chrome accents.

It’s a handsome and airy cabin with excellent forward vision, coming across as a couple of steps up in quality from most rivals. It looked especially rich with this tester’s tan leather.

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