Ride & Handling

Mazda likes to say the CX-7 drives like a sports car, and in many ways it feels like you are indeed driving a car. Still, the CX-7 is a large vehicle, whether you call it a crossover or an SUV. It weighs 3,929 pounds (3,710 for front-wheel-drive models) but the steering is crisp and exact. My all-wheel-drive test vehicle was a bit out of alignment, and since I only had a week in it, I didn't get it fixed. It was slightly skewed to the left, but was manageable. Regardless, I got an excellent feel for the car's handling prowess. It must also be noted that the car had more than 8,000 miles on it when I tested it. Most cars I review have been driven fewer miles, especially ones so new to the market.

One negative of the carlike ride is a firmer, more rigid chassis that, while delivering that great handling, also sends bumps and road imperfections straight to the driver's seat. In this way, I got some sports-car feel, though in a negative way. The bumps weren't enough to negate all the other great characteristics of the CX-7's ride, but the enormous blind spots I encountered could force one or two buyers to pick another vehicle.

My first experience with one of the blind spots came 30 minutes into my time with the CX-7, when I merged into the left lane on the highway and cut off a none-too-happy pickup driver. I didn't see his Ford Ranger at all when I smoothly made my shift in lanes, complete with signal. I chalked it up to not knowing the CX-7 yet. Time and again, though, over 400 miles of driving, the blind spots forced double- and triple-checks of all the mirrors and a cautionary turn of the head over the shoulder. The blind spots are due to those narrowing side windows mentioned above; the reduction in glass means reduction in visibility. My wife also remarked on how much worse the blind spots were than those in her 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Until now, the CX-7 had been on the top of the list to replace the Jeep in our own garage. After the blind spot issue, we're not so sure.

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