Modestly Powered Base Engine

The base 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder provides acceptable performance in city and suburban settings. Acceleration is quick enough, letting you keep pace with traffic. Where the engine starts to falter is on the highway; it quickly loses steam when you need to merge or accelerate around a slower-moving car. The bottom line is that you need to plan your moves on the highway, because traffic has a tendency to rapidly get bigger in your rearview mirror. Cruising on the highway is another story, though, as the CX-7 isn't taxed as long as you're just keeping pace with the cars around you. Overall, the base four-cylinder feels quite a bit less powerful than the turbo engine, which offers forceful acceleration.

The base engine works with a five-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. To get all-wheel drive, you have to choose the more powerful, less efficient turbo four-cylinder, which pairs with a six-speed automatic. The five-speed automatic shifts smoothly when accelerating from a stop, but it's slow to react while rolling along in traffic. Overall, the transmission isn't as refined as the continuously variable automatic transmission in the Nissan Rogue.

The new four-cylinder brings the CX-7's gas mileage estimates closer to the competition, and unlike the turbo four-cylinder, which prefers premium gas, the base engine runs on regular. The competition has also been working on fuel economy though, with models like the Chevrolet Equinox and Hyundai Tucson becoming more efficient with recent redesigns.

The CX-7 does have admirable brake-pedal feel. Braking response corresponds naturally with how hard you depress the pedal, which makes smooth stops second nature.

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