The Road Ahead : December 2010
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 40 THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2010/JAN 2011 mazda cx7, 2006-2009 REVIEW JOHN EWING If sticking to the blacktop is the domain of your SUV driving, then Mazdas' CX-7 is well worth a look. MAZDA'S CX-7 CROSSOVER SUV was, according to Mazda, engineered with their trademark 'soul of a sportscar'. And that's CX-7's making and undoing. It's far more engaging for the driver than most of its ilk, but show it anything much more arduous than a roughish dirt road and it soon turns to water. That said, it's a well built, well equipped, all-wheel-drive, five-door wagon that has its own distinct appeal. Locally released in the closing stages of 2006, there were only two grades, the CX-7 (later renamed CX-7 Classic) and the more upmarket CX-7 Luxury model. Both versions feature six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist, traction and stability control. Extra niceties on the Luxury include leather trim, sunroof, climate control and a Bose audio system. CX-7 is five-seat only; there's no seven seat option as found in a few competitors. The 2.3-litre turbo direct injection four-cylinder engine offers quite a sporty dimension to CX-7's tarmac performance. But in a near 1800 kg SUV it's less than ideal for off-road treks. And its thirst for premium unleaded is far from endearing. The six-speed Activematic auto delivers smooth, positive shifting. A firm ride, responsive steering, nimble handling and good brakes make for an on-road driving experience akin to a well sorted sedan. CX-7 uses Mazda's active torque split all-wheel-drive system to drive the front wheels only or proportion torque to the other axle as needed. Venture away from sealed or unsealed roads though and a lack of axle articulation, road-biased tyres, and low-slung clearances see it struggling earlier than some soft-roaders. A spacesaver spare isn't overly practical either. Reliability wise CX-7 holds its head high. A check for oil leaks, including around driveline mechanicals, is worthwhile. The 18" tyres can be expensive so check condition, and to improve life regular rotation and alignment is highly recommended. Watch for marked interior trims as well. UNDER THE PUMP CX7 will use between 9.5 and 16.0-litres of 95 RON premium unleaded every 100 km, depending on model and driving conditions. PRICE RANGE From $16,500 to $39,300, depending on year and model. visit www.roadahead.com.au/motoring MORE INFO NEED HELP? RACQ CAN HELP WITH CAR FINANCE (CALL 1300 361 316), VEHICLE INSPECTIONS (CALL 13 1905) AND INSURANCE (CALL 13 1905). MOTORING USED CAR REVIEW COMPETITORS HYUNDAI SANTA FE V6, 2006-2009 2.7-litre V6 and four-speed auto, a bit leisurely. Seven seats available but row three probably best for kids only. Solid enough. For less-than-arduous off-road work. HOLDEN CAPTIVA V6, 2006 ONWARDS Korean sourced. Local Holden engineering input including 3.2-litre V6. Performs quite well, five-speed auto. Seven seat versions, kids only though. Benign on-road, modest off-road. FORD SY TERITORY AWD, 2006-2009 Spacious, practical Australian-built SUV. Borrows heavily from Falcon, easy and car-like to drive. Falcon's proven 190 kW 4.0-litre six with truck loads of low-down grunt. Brilliant six-speed ZF for AWD models. Beaut family transport. Limited off-road skill. Seven seat versions. A bit thirsty. Front ball joint problems known but Ford warrant to 150,000 km irrespective of age.