In 2009, Mazda’s crossover CX-7 came in two trim levels: GS and GT, and you could get it with or without all-wheel-drive.
The GT was equipped with AWD as part of its trim package, while the GS had it as an option. Mazda discontinued the GT with 2WD availability in this year.
Whatever you chose, both versions were propelled by a turbocharged 2.3-litre, four-cylinder that put out 244 horsepower. This engine had the by-now customary arrangement of twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, and made the CX-7 one of the more powerful models in this category.
It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission only and the “torque split” AWD system featured a front-wheel-drive bias. By way of comparison, this vintage of Acura’s RDX was also turbocharged and developed 240 horses. The CX-7 would also tow up to 907 kilograms.
The CX-7 had independent suspension, front and back, with struts/coil springs and a multi-link arrangement, respectively. It also came with front and rear stabilizer bars and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The GT model was shod with 18-inch wheels and tires, while the GS had 17-inchers.
As far as these kinds of vehicles go, it was stable, lively and reasonably toss-able. But, despite its turbocharged engine, the CX-7 was no sports car. Nor was it just an upscale version of the Mazda Tribute. It had completely different architecture and virtually no common parts.
Standard equipment level was comparatively high with this iteration of the CX-7. If you ordered the Luxury package, for example, you got a powerful Bose audio system, Sirius satellite radio and Mazda’s keyless entry system. Wafer-thin, Mazda’s key fob was one of the less obtrusive gizmos out there, but somehow, didn’t inspire one with confidence. To some owners, it felt kind of chintzy. You could also order a touch-screen navigation system. Pop the one-piece rear lift-gate and you were greeted by some 1,658 litres of total storage space with the back seat folded down, with a 60/40 folding seat arrangement.
The CX-7 has never been the kind of vehicle to stir the blood. Competent, nicely appointed, lively and pleasant to drive, it featured a more upscale and refined ambience than Mazda’s other compact SUV, the Tribute. Compared to its closest rival at the time – the Acura RDX – it came up a little short in terms of high-speed handling, chiefly because of Acura’s SH-AWD system.
Just one safety recall to report for the 2009 CX-7, and it actually pertains to the aftermarket Thule roof rack. Mounting bolts for this item can snap off under load and, in a worst-case scenario, cause the whole apparatus to come off the vehicle. This recall affects Thule roof racks manufactured from 2008 through to 2009 for other models as well, including various Mazda products and the Subaru Impreza and Forester. The model numbers for the afflicted Thule racks are 3068 and 3069.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 17 technical service bulletins on file for the 2009 CX-7. These range from a noisy engine timing chain, to low-beam headlight malfunction caused by foggy lenses, to idling issues. Some owners have reported smoke coming out of the tailpipe after the vehicle idles in traffic for a long period of time. This can be traced to oil starvation in the turbocharger, apparently.
Aside from some issues regarding the braking system, Consumer Reports gives the 2009 CX-7 good marks right across the board, resulting in an above-average used-car prediction. Says the magazine of the ’09 CX-7: “We expect reliability of new models will be 24 per cent above average.”
Just an “about-average” predicted reliability rating from market research firm J.D. Power, however. This organization has issues with the performance and powertrain quality of the CX-7 and it doesn’t rate more than average in any area.
From a base price just less than $37,000 three years ago, a 2009 CX-7 has dropped by about half. Prices go from the $18,000 mark, to the low-$20,000 neighbourhood for a fully loaded GT. GS models with AWD are fetching about $1,500 more than their front-drive counterparts.
2009 Mazda CX-7
Original Base Price: $35,695; Black Book: $18,150-$21,925; Red Book: $18,925-$22,400
Engine: Turbocharged, 2.3-litre, four-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 244 hp/258 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.7 city/9.1 highway (AWD); premium gas
Alternatives: Acura RDX, Subaru Tribeca, Chevrolet Equinox, Volkswagen Tiguan, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Kia Borrego, Infiniti EX35, Toyota RAV4