The last time a Mazda CX-7 stopped by the Motor Trend garage, it found itself in a three-way dance against the Subaru Forester XT and Volkswagen Tiguan ("Turbo Chargers," September 2008), where it finished second, behind the Forester. The appeal of a gas-thirsty turbocharged crossover is limited, however, and so when Mazda gave the CX-7 its midlife makeover for 2010, it threw in a naturally aspirated inline-four to the CX-7's lineup in an effort to broaden its appeal.
Available in two new trims -- base i SV and slightly-enriched i Sport -- the engine is the same 2.5-liter mill found in the Mazda3 and 6, but tuned to make 161-hp and 161-lb-ft in the CX-7. It's mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and, unlike the turbocharged variant, is not available with all-wheel drive.
Our i Sport tester came equipped with several options, the biggest of which was the $1750 convenience package. It includes a power moonroof, power driver's seat, automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a rearview camera displayed via a new 4.1-inch color multi-information display. In a nav-equipped model, this doubles as the nav screen. Though the overall design of the interior is improved, the new screen is something of a step back. It's smaller than the old screen and recessed into the dash above the center stack, which makes it harder to discern details even though the new screen is clearer and has a higher resolution. The heated seats work great, but there's a downside to them, too. There's only one on mode, which results in rapidly toasted buns. In addition, our tester had a cargo net ($50), fog lights ($400), scuff plates ($145), and Sirius satellite radio ($430), for a total of $25,865.