All in name of refinement

When Mazda launched the five-seat 2007 CX-7 in 2006, the idea of amid-size crossover with sporting pretensions was relatively novel, andthis all-wheel-drive turbocharged number with the radically rakedwindshield broke some new ground.<br />

When Mazda launched the five-seat 2007 CX-7 in 2006, the idea of a mid-size crossover with sporting pretensions was relatively novel, and this all-wheel-drive turbocharged number with the radically raked windshield broke some new ground.

My, how things have changed. In this hotly contested and highly congested market segment the Mazda CX-7 is kinda old news.

For 2010, the CX-7 gets a midlife makeover featuring Mazda’s new leering corporate visage, interior upgrades, structural strengthening and improved sound insulation, all in the name of refinement. Of more significance is the availability of an entry-level GX front-wheel-drive-only model powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.5L 161 hp four. It bows at $27,995.

All the testers on this program were fitted with the $2995 Luxury Package that added power moonroof, leather upholstery and door trims, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated seats, 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).

The sharp-eyed among you will notice the GX’s 28 grand price tag is more than your base RAV4 ($24,345) or CR-V ($25,790 — cash only), but Mazda says this is in line with similarly optioned models from Honda and Toyota.

Indeed, first impressions of the CX-7 GX are favourable. The interior gets improved plastics, nicely padded arm rests on the doors, a new multi-function steering wheel, gauges ringed in blue illumination with white dials, and some tasteful dark-chrome accents. The upper dash is recontoured to house the new LCD Multi Information Display that offers trip computer functions, rear view and maintenance info. It’s a handsome and airy cabin with excellent forward vision, and is a couple of steps up in quality from its Japanese rivals.

The DOHC 2.5L four that generates 161 hp and 161 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 r.p.m. may be new to the CX-7, but it also does duty in the Mazda6, Mazda3 and Ford Escape.

On the highway, the GX settles into a relaxed and stable cruise, showing 2400 r.p.m. at 120 km/h. Over the twisty portions of our test route, this entry-level CX-7 showed the typical attributes of a Mazda: excellent steering feel, good body control and a general dynamic cohesiveness that suggests the development engineers do enjoy driving.

 
 
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