2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Mazda CX-7

Hello, Goldilocks…

You’re probably wondering what the most well-known bedtime break-and-enter artist is doing within the pages of this week’s Inside Story. Like Goldilocks’ comfy bed, the 2008 Mazda CX-7 is ‘Just Right’. In a world of shrinking expectations for parkade voids, suburban carports, and disposable fuel income, the CX-7 is one of many nouveau offerings in the middle ground of sport utility.

I’ve been a raving fan of the Mazda direction for both CX-7 and 9, even more so when I see the kissing Blue Oval cousin Edge and the coming Flex. Mazda has done for the sport utility what Loewy did for the Starlight Coupe; they made it dead sexy. Of course, beauty of the skin is not what it takes to win the high score at the Flying Fickle Finger of Interior Debate Department at CD. This week’s contestant is the 2008 version, in base GS all-wheel drive trim, with an MSRP of $35,095 as equipped.

2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge


Cabin

Controls: There’s some genuine Zoom-Zoom within all this Room-Room. The drive-me three-spoke wheel gets audio and cruise control tabs on the horizontal bars, while the column gets manual tilt but sweet zip in the Telescoping Department. Heated exterior mirrors are power-motivated, with break-away collapse for tight quarters. Headlamps get the all-important Ron Popeil Auto setting; set it and forget it. Front power window lifts get Auto-Up and Down express tickets. Manual HVAC controls are simple to read, easy to actuate. Dash-wind outlets clamp closed tight, and right. Audio station, and sound setting elation, is displayed at eye level. The manu-shift automatic is simple to slap to that happy gear. Here’s a tip; you can start off in 2nd gear for easier snow and slippage starts. Wiper control for the rear window includes intermittent swipe. The parking brake pedal looks like an obvious interference, yet a week behind the wheel kept pantaloon snag at a score of zilch.

2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge

Convenience: The big surprise in the CX-7 is the revelation that practicality doesn’t have to look like some gangly add-on; it can be styled, and still work. Front door pockets are cleverly hidden, and bottle holders are sizable. Pop the fuse cover and you’ll find a handy fuse puller. The glove-box doubles as a cavern. The centre console top is key-lockable, with an inner 12-volt power point, and a flock-lined removable cradle, which would be great for an MP3 player. That is, if the GS had an MP3 jack. The console floor padding is removable for cleaning.

2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge

There’s an additional power point to the right of the shifter. The natural contour of the forward portion of the centre tunnel keeps items such as cell phones from taking unwanted skids. Front visors get dual vanity mirrors, and sunshade extensions. The dual front cupholder cavity has good depth, E-Z clean construction, and not a cincher in sight. The gripless cup cavity continues in the rear, on the flip-down armrest. Skinny-mini pocket storage is found on the rear of the driver’s seat.

Seats: The GS gets an interesting standard fabric, which I’ve dubbed Neoprenohyde. It’s not quite cloth, and it’s not quite wetsuit, but it should be easy to live with in the Stain Department. The driver’s seat on the GS gets manual height adjustment. Rear seats receive shingle-style head restraints.

2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge

Fit and finish: Note to the rest of the automobile manufacturing community: this is how hard plastic trim is done. It may not be soft, but the grain choices have some loft to their station. It fits like Sinatra and scotch.

Safety features: dual frontal bags with passenger ‘Are You There?’ sensor get additional pillowy goodness from front seat-mounted side airbags, as well as curtains front and rear. The CX-7 scores the top marks of five stars for frontal and side impact from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as a four-star rating for rollover resistance. (www.safercar.gov)

2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge


Spare/Trunk/Cargo

Pop the hatch, for a cavern that’s natch for family and shopaholics alike. 60/40 rear seat backs have some added sproing to their flip; you can get flippin’ by using the seatback top-mount keys, or use the cargo area-mounted latches. Cargo hooks for netting stow flush. Provisions exist for a rear cargo cover, a $143.10 touch for the GS. The cargo floor is reversible, with a dirt-happy underside. Beneath the cover is a fuzzy felt spare tire cover, covering the largest temporary spare known to Autokind. Mazda provides Roadside Assistance to change that rubber biscuit for you, for three years of unlimited mileage.


Engine


2008 Mazda CX-7 GS
2008 Mazda CX-7 GS. Click image to enlarge

And the winner of the mondo engine plastic cover goes to; the CX-7!!! There’s a 244 horsepower 2.3-litre turbo four under there, somewhere. Talk about commitment; there’s even a large circular locking plug that hides the dipstick access. There are zero concerns for fluid fill and access. The transverse placement should allow for good future serviceability. The inner headlamp bulb replacement looks driveway-easy, the outboards not so much.


Clarkey Rating

It’s nice to see that the sub-Forties for SUVs, especially AWD ones, possess continually impressive levels of standard equipment. The quibbles with the CX-7 are few, and most importantly, require minimal re-engineering. Let’s call it 4.5 stars.

Next week: Suzuki SX4

Connect with Autos.ca