Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 2-door coupe
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,200 – $2,900*


1990 Mazda RX-7 GXL 2-door hatchback


1990 Mazda RX-7 2-door convertible


1991 Mazda RX-7 2-door hatchback


1991 Mazda RX-7 2-door hatchback


1990 Mazda RX-7 2-door convertible

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes (Turbo)
  • Handling
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride

Sales began to sag for the RX-7 by the end of the 1980s, when Mazda’s Miata 2-seater, with a conventional powertrain, went on sale as an early ’90 model. Despite still-high prices, though, an RX-7 stacks up well against the competition of its time.

Overview

Back in the 1970s, Mazda had virtually initiated the marketing of rotary-engined automobiles. By 1990, the sole remaining example in the U.S. market was the rear-drive RX-7 sports car, having been redesigned for 1986. Cosmetic freshening and mechanical improvements took place during the 1989 model year, so the 1990 model was essentially a carryover, except for adding a driver’s airbag to the convertible.

The 1990 lineup included GTU, GTU S, and GXL hatchback 2-passenger coupes, a GXL 2+2 hatchback (with a back seat), plus a Turbo coupe and a convertible. All RX-7 models with a 1.3-liter rotary engine. Only the regular hatchback coupe could be turbocharged. The normally aspirated version of the twin-rotor engine was rated at 160 horsepower. Turbos produced 200 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard; 4-speed automatic optional, except for the Turbo which was manual shift only. All-disc brakes were standard. Antilock brakes were offered only on the Turbo, where they were standard. A driver’s airbag was installed only on convertibles; others had motorized seatbelts.

Yearly Updates

1991 RX-7
GTU, GTU S, and GXL model designations were abandoned for 1991, leaving Mazda’s rotary-engined sports car with a single trim level. The slow-selling 2+2 coupe was dropped too, leaving only the 2-passenger hatchback coupe and convertible. Only the coupe was available in Turbo form. Mazda’s option list dwindled, as accessories were grouped into two packages. Air conditioning was standard on all models.
1992 RX-7
Scheduled for replacement by a redesigned model early in 1992, there was no official ’92 model. Dealers continued to sell the 1991 versions.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Mazda’s 1.3-liter twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine came in regular or turbocharged form, developing 160 or 200 horsepower, respectively. Turbo models came only with 5-speed manual shift, but other RX-7s could have an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.

2-rotor Wankel
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.3/80
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 140
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
16/25
17/24
Turbocharged 2-rotor Wankel
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.3/80
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 195
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

16/24

Road Test

Eclipsed in the early ’90s by the new Miata, the RX-7 is just as sporty as that 2-seater and markedly more luxurious.

Though unique and appealing on the basis of engineering, the RX-7’s rotary engine suffers from dull low-end response when teamed with an automatic transmission. Accelerating to 60 mph took a leisurely 10.4 seconds. Manual shift makes much better use of the engine’s high-revving character. Hooked to the 5-speed, it delivers abundant acceleration. In Turbo form, performance is downright thrilling.

Fuel economy is disappointing with either transmission. When these cars were new, we averaged only 15.4 mpg in an equal mix of city and highway driving.

Like most high-performance sports cars, the RX-7 yields a rather harsh ride, thanks to its firm suspension and stiff, performance-oriented tires. You can expect a jiggly experience even on smooth pavement, and serious roughness on pockmarked surfaces. Sharp, responsively agile handling, on the other hand, more than makes up for that drawback and ranks as one of the RX-7’s top virtues.

Interiors are well laid out with convenient controls and readable gauges. Leg room in the small cockpit is ample, but people over 5-foot-10 or so might find their head clearance tight. They’ll have to recline their backrest to avoid the ceiling.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Mazda RX-7 Turbo

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 8
80%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 38

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.7 169.9 66.5 49.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
4.1 18.5 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.3 43.7
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.7 169.9 66.5 49.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.5 18.5 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.2 43.7
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.7 169.9 66.5 49.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.5 18.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.2 33 43.7 NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Manual transmission
Description: Turbo-equipped models have a flat spot in acceleration between 3500-4000 rpm because the hole for the wastegate vacuum is too small and must be enlarged. (1990-91)
Oil leak
Description: An oil leak near the transmission-shift lever causes an oil smell inside the car. (1990-91)
Oil leak
Description: The rear stationary gear seal (analogous to a rear main seal) may leak oil. (1990-92)
Rough idle
Description: The idle won’t stabilize (varies up and down) unless an orifice is installed in the idle-air bypass valve. (1990)

Recall History

1990 RX-7
Description: Damaged threaded inflated inflator components may allow components to separate when inflator receives a signal to deploy the airbag; could allow hot combustion gases to escape into passenger compartment.
1990-91 RX-7
Description: Rail of automatic shoulder belt can wear, causing cable that retracts the buckle assembly to become jammed.
1992 RX-7 w/accessory hood
Description: Hook on hood striker for Mazda Speed Resinous hoods, sold as accessories, may separate from base plate at welded portion; hood may open suddenly.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.