2003 MPV New Car Test Drive
Compared with most minivans, the Mazda MPV is a sports car. It's lighter and more compact than, say, a Honda Odyssey, making it more agile and easier to park.
Last year, the MPV was significantly upgraded, with a new 3.0-liter V6 that delivered substantially more power and torque. Mazda paired this new engine with a new and responsive five-speed automatic transmission and a revised suspension. Big, sporty 17-inch alloy wheels are standard on the ES version.
The MPV's small size hasn't hurt its performance in crash testing. In fact, the MPV is one of just a few passenger vans to receive a top five-star rating in all four of the Federal government's collision categories: front and side impact, for both front-seat and rear-seat passengers.
The MPV is smooth, quiet and powerful. It's pleasant to live with. MPV features a beautifully designed interior with high-quality materials, excellent ergonomics, and great seats. Sliding doors on both sides are convenient, and they have real windows that go up and down, which is nice for back-seat riders. Flexible seating and cargo configurations make it easy for the MPV to handle a variety of tasks on a busy day. The third row disappears into the floor, and the middle seats are a marvel of clever design.
If you want a big van this isn't it. MPV is a good size if you typically have four or fewer passengers; if five or six regularly ride with you, then one of the bigger minivans would likely be more suitable. But if you want a family vehicle that's smooth, quiet, comfort, agile and quick, yet can carry up to six passengers, then the Mazda MPV is an excellent choice.
Mazda MPV is available in two trim levels: LX ($22,690) and ES ($26,090).
Both are powered by a 3.0-liter, 24-valve V6 engine that produces 200 horsepower and 200 pounds-feet of torque.
Standard equipment on the LX includes antilock brakes (ABS), air conditioning, power windows and locks, Side-by-Slide and Tumble-Under seating, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, a tilt steering wheel with audio controls, and a AM/FM stereo with CD player.
ES adds leather-trimmed seats, rear air conditioning, front side-impact airbags, keyless entry, nine-speaker audio with CD player and cassette, chrome interior accents, traction control, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Side-impact airbags and traction control are available on the LX as a $400 package. The Security Package for the ES ($730) adds an anti-theft alarm with immobilizer, compass, outside temperature gauge, auto-dimming mirror and fog lamps
On both models, a Four Seasons package ($425) includes a rear heater, heavy-duty battery, larger windshield-washer tank, transmission cooler, larger radiator, heated door mirrors, and a 3000-pound towing capacity. Stand-alone options include a power glass moonroof ($700), power rear sliding doors ($800) and an in-dash six-disc CD changer ($450).
For 2003, a rear-seat entertainment system ($1200) is also available. It plays DVD, MP3 and all other audio files, and comes with two infrared headphones, a seven-inch wide-angle screen (mounted to the ceiling), a handheld remote control and outputs for video games and camcorders.