I have a dilemma right now. I'm about to replace my 2006 Honda Civic 1.8 S and I've decided that I want something bigger and with higher ground clearance. I'm looking for a sport-utility vehicle and I've narrowed down my choices to these: Mitsubishi Montero 2.5 GLS 4x4 and Mazda CX7.
Hope you can help me decide as I'm really torn between these two beauties on the road.
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It's hard to pit the Mazda CX-7 against the Montero Sport because it won't be an apples-to-apples comparison.
The Montero Sport runs on diesel, utilizes a ladder-body-on-frame chassis and lacks the sophistication and refinement of the Mazda CX-7. It does, however, offer more go-anywhere capability, greater fuel economy and efficiency, more value for money and generally a more robust performance. My Mom recently bought a Montero Sport GLS Se 4X4 and is pleased with the sense of safety and security afforded by the tall ground clearance. I drove it earlier and I'm a bit disappointed with the steering feel, but the brakes and general level of grip and response afforded by the suspension are really good for a truck-based SUV.
The Mazda CX-7 is a car-based crossover SUV so it rides much more smoothly, feels more like a car, has slightly better interior space although seats only five people. Surprisingly though, the CX-7 suffers from excessive tire noise at highway speeds. Turning up the excellent audio system helps cancel out most of the noise, but this is something unheard of in other SUVs in its class like the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4. I did like the smooth drive, roomy interior and the big cargo space at the back when took the CX-7 for a spin and it looks challenging (that's a polite way of saying it looks awkward/weird) from some angles.
If you do a lot of highway miles on poorly surfaced roads, if you're going to remote locations, and if you're in need of serious ground clearance, the Montero Sport will be better for you.
If you are an urban jungle warrior that dukes it out in our central business districts (Ortigas, Ayala, Greenhills), the Mazda CX-7 might be more to your liking.
As for me? I'd pick the diesel because it's cheaper to run, and I'm cheap!
For other options, you might want to consider the Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi R e-VGT 4X2 with six-speed AT--a lovely, lovely SUV that rides like a dream, like a muscle car (wheel spin in the rain at highway speeds) and has a really, really roomy seven-seater interior; my all-time favorite Subaru Forester, though it's getting long in tooth; and the recently launched Mitsubishi ASX, which is like a junior Outlander SUV but with more style, and less brute macho looks (think Kia Soul competitor).
Good luck, keep it safe out there and God bless!