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Underrated Lookers: The Mazda CX-7

January 2, 2013 by Matt

Mazda CX-7 CX7 Red

After 6 years, we hardly knew ye.

Among the dozen or so cars departing the US market for the 2013 model year include the Mazda CX-7, the automaker’s first attempt at a midsize crossover SUV.

Normally I don’t devote much (any?) blog space to anything remotely SUV-ish, but as a devoted fan of the brand in general and admittedly, the CX-7 in particular, I thought I’d give it a farewell look. There aren’t many vehicles of an SUV-like nature I’d actually consider for daily driver duty, but Mazda’s outgoing midsize ute is one of them.

Mazda CX-7 CX7 Silver Rear Back

Offered starting in the 2007 model year, the CX-7 and to a lesser degree its bigger near-twin the CX-9 never really caught on. Reasons include the turbocharged 2.3l, 244-hp 4-cylinder’s relatively poor fuel economy (an important consideration in the car’s class), sub-par name recognition (no one really goes to Mazda looking for a midsize crossover) and interior space compromised by the CX-7’s styling.

Mazda CX-7 CX7 Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

A word on the styling: To my eyes, as crossover SUV’s go, it’s fantastic. It communicates Mazda’s fun-to-drive philosophy exceedingly well using SUV proportions, and looks far less generic and much more cohesive than anything else in its class (contrast the utterly anodyne shapes of the Hyundai Santa Fe or Toyota Highlander for reference). No, Mazda attempted something more ambitious, shape-wise, than its rivals, creating a kind of capable-looking urban jungle transport capsule, and succeeded in crafting a design at once accessible and futuristic. 20 years ago, looking at the concept car landscape, didn’t we all think we’d be driving cars with overtones of the CX-7? I did.

Couple the winning design with a dose of Mazda’s traditional dynamic excellence (such as it can be on something with a CG so high), and it’s a true shame the CX-7 is leaving the market.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring cars whose design I find appealing, in contrast to mainstream opinion. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Mazda, News, Underrated Lookers


  1. Cor Cross says:

    Ever considered the 2002-2006 Lexus ES300/330 for this segment? I have owned one for the past 6 years (2003 ES300 – pearl white) and although most people never notice these things I think it looks fantastic. Its by far the best looking Lexus of that era and the best looking ES. Its a bit bland and forgettable, but it has some striking features and a very elegant profile. Many styling cues from the 2002 ES appear in many later cars. It also has one of the best looking interiors Lexus has ever done.

    • Matt says:

      Unfortunately the only ES’s I find somewhat attractive are the 2nd and 3rd generations (’92-’01)… I do like the 4th gen’s interior, though!

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