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The Mazda CX-7 gets just a few minor changes for 2009. An auxiliary input jack and MP3 capability are now standard across the entire model line. Leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob are new to the Sport model, and new side mirrors with integral turn signals plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror are now included with the Grand Touring trim.
The CX-7's powertrain features a personality that's quite different from what's under the hood of most other utility vehicles. A 244-horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine connects to a six-speed automatic and delivers power either through front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel drive system that's available on the CX-7 uses a computer-controlled coupling to send up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels when needed; the system works well for snowy and slippery roads, and it helps to deliver the turbocharged engine's burst of power more smoothly when road surfaces are slippery.
In keeping with the Mazda brand's sporty image, the CX-7 handles similarly to a sport sedan because its center of mass is kept low. The vehicle's carlike MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear setup soaks up road imperfections. A rubber-isolated front subframe is also used to isolate jarring road impacts while keeping handling response tight.
Large four-wheel anti-lock brakes provide impressive stopping ability and the electronic stability control works in conjunction with the AWD system if so equipped. Safety features on all CX-7s include front side airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover both rows.
Inside, the CX-7 has space for five, with well-bolstered sport seats for front occupants and a back seat that's split 60/40 and folds down to increase cargo space. With the seat down, the cargo floor has 70 inches of continuous surface, with a lip at the front to help prevent objects from sliding into the front seat. Even with the back seat up, the length of the cargo space is an ample 39 inches. The back seat is a bit tight in headroom for some taller adults though due to the swooped roofline. Special attention has been paid to storage spaces inside; the center console is large enough for a laptop, and the there are plenty of cup holders.
The CX-7 comes in three different trims--Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring--each available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Base Sport models come with power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning and a CD/MP3 sound system. Touring models upgrade to heated leather seats, a power driver's seat, and a retractable cargo cover. Grand Touring models upgrade to HID headlamps, fog lamps, automatic climate control, and added chrome trim.
The options list is extensive, allowing buyers to add a wealth of luxury-level equipment. The Technology Package includes a moonroof, nine-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system, DVD navigation system, keyless start, a Bluetooth hands-free calling system and Sirius Satellite Radio. Remote engine start is offered as a standalone option.