Engineered with ample space to transport five occupants, the functional and comfortable front-drive CX-7 cuts an uncommon path through the ho-hum of regular SUVs and other crossover vehicles.

Using a design theme that is called "advanced frontier" by Mazda Chief Designer Iwao Koizumi, he said his purpose for the CX-7 was to "... combine dynamic movement, speedy shapes and a bold presence in one passionate statement."

Power for the CX-7 is provided by a version of the spirited turbocharged and intercooled 2.3L four-cylinder direct-injection engine. The engine is connected to a six-speed Sport A/T automatic transmission with manual mode. For motorists that prefer the handling and performance of all-wheel drive, Mazda's Active Torque-Split All-Wheel-Drive system is an available option.

The all-wheel-drive system uses a computer controlled coupling integrated with the rear differential to deliver up to half the available torque to the rear wheels on demand.

Inside the passenger cabin, the feeling is station wagon-meets-minivan-meets-SUV in an ultra-modern package. The sportiness of the Mazda3 meets the practicality of the outgoing MPV minivan with more capability, more fun and more function. The driver enjoys an elevated outward view of the road - with an instrument cluster arrangement that is reminiscent of the Mazda6 sedan and RX8 coupe.

The second row seating area features a 60/40-split setup that folds flat with the cargo floor. No removal of headrests is required.

EPA fuel economy: City: 17, Highway: 23

Base MSRP Range: $23,750 to $28,000