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2003 Mazda MPV

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2003 Mazda MPV Review

A nice minivan with all the usual bells and whistles plus a powerful new. engine.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The main complaint about the original MPV was that its engine wasn’t powerful enough. Luckily in 2002 Mazda upgraded the engine to its current three-liter V-6 that produces 200 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Combined with new struts and shocks, and a more rigid body, the MPV is much more fun to drive than many of its competitors.

Thanks to its smaller size and sleek design the MPV looks less minivan-ish than many of its competitors. This is a major selling point, as many of those who need the room would rather not drive around in something that screams that they have given up on style.

The interior boasts many sporty touches. Perhaps the most exciting features are the seats and their flexibility. The second row is two captain’s chairs that can be joined into a bench seat with the flip of a switch that allows the right side to slide over to the left. The third row can be turned around to face the back or disappeared entirely under the floor.

The Range

Body Styles: minivan
Engines: three-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmissions: five speed automatic with lockup torque converter
Models: Mazda MPV LX-SV, Mazda MPV LX, Mazda MPV ES

What's New

Power sliding doors have been added as an option on the LX and ES models. A new security option allows for engine immobilization. There is also a new towing package option. New standard features include floor and cargo mats.


The MPV is smaller than many of its rivals with a total length of 187.8 inches on a wheel base of 111.8 inches. The exterior look is sleek thanks to a short front overhang, slanted D-pillars, and crisp lines. All models have alloy wheels, and the higher end model has 17-inch wheels. Overall, the look is much nicer and less boxy than the average minivan.


Even the low end LX-SV has power windows and locks. All models also have cruise-control and a CD player. One unusual and welcome feature is power windows for the second row of seats. They don’t open all the way, but they make the second row must less claustrophobic. Both the second and third-row seats are designed for different configurations. The third row of seats can be stored under the floor to provide for more storage, or flipped around to face out the back window of the minivan. Meanwhile the second row, which consists of two captain’s chairs can be changed into a bench seat by a switch that allows the right side seat to be moved over to meet the left hand seat.

One major drawback for parents is the lack of a DVD entertainment system, although that can be replaced by a mobile version.

Performance & Handling

The new three-liter, V-6 engine produces 200 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque at only 3000 rpm. The fact that the torque output comes at such a low rpm means great towing power at low speeds. The new engine changed the MPVs zero to 60 number from 11.3 seconds to 9.4 while the quarter-mile is reached in 17.2 seconds rather than 18.5 seconds. Most importantly, the minivan now has solid midrange response. Braking is also strong with an Anti-lock Brake System as a standard feature.

The second generation MPV also boasts revised front struts with a three-degree offset axis to reduce friction. There are revised rear shocks, and more rigid body-and-suspension bushings to improve handling. Overall, this makes the second generation really fun to drive, particularly when the 17-inch wheels that come standard on the ES model are added. With its 0.80-g skid pad performance on M+S tires, one can almost believe the company hype that the MPV has the body of a minivan and the soul of a sports car.


ABS with electronic brake force distribution is standard on all models. The MPV has front airbags with a deactivation switch for the passenger side. There are three-point belts with pretensioners on the front belts. There are ISOFIX child seat anchors. There is a new security option that includes engine immobilization. The 2002 model added an enhanced rear anti-roll bar.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda MPV LX-SV minivan: 16/23 mpg city/highway
Mazda MPV LX minivan: 16/23 mpg city/highway
Mazda MPV ES minivan: 16/23 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • The engine power
  • The handling with more torque
  • The second and third row seat flexibility

You Won't Like

  • Slightly smaller than some of its competitors
  • No DVD entertainment system

Sum Up

A nice minivan with all the usual bells and whistles plus a powerful new. engine.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Ford Windstar

2003 Mazda MPV Consumer Rating

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