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2004 Mazda MPV

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2004 Mazda MPV Review

Solid and quiet van lags newer, feature-laden rivals.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2004 Mazda MPV is not the typical minivan. It has cargo space, movable third-row seats, and other things a minivan buyer expects, but it is noticeably smaller than typical minivans on the American market. This means less space but better handling. The MPV is a ""performance minivan"" and uses a sporty detuned V-6 from a sports coupe and offers great handling. Safety is a mixed bag, not a good thing for a family vehicle, and the MPV lacks the space, power, and features of its rivals. This makes the MPV a good choice for buyers wanting a small and fun-to-drive minivan.

The Range

Body Styles: minivan
Engines: 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed-automatic
Models: Mazda MPV LX, Mazda MPV ES

What's New

For 2004, the MPV gets a facelift that includes a new hood, front fenders, headlamps, grille, side skirts, and alloy wheels. A rear air-conditioner and four-wheel disc brakes are now standard equipment.

Exterior

The 2004 Mazda MPV minivan comes in two trims: LX and ES. The LX starts off with 16-inch wheels, a rear wiper, and not much else since it is a minivan, albeit a performance minivan. The ES upgrades to 17-inch wheels but retains all other exterior features of the LX. There is a four seasons towing package as an option. The MPV has a bit of sleek sportiness to its appearance that eludes to a hatchback a bit more than a minivan. Since it is performance-based, the look matches the goal.

Interior

The MPV is still a minivan at heart and offers the features one expects when buying this type of vehicle. This includes standard gear on the LX trim like a ""tumble under"" third-row bench seat that can be folded flat to increase cargo space or tumbled the other way into a backward facing tailgate party seat, four captain’s chairs, climate control AC, and a nine-speaker premium audio system with in-dash, six-disc CD changer pre-wired for Sirius satellite radio, basic power features, Tilt-adjustable steering wheel with audio and cruise controls and indoor air filtration. The ES adds rear air-conditioning and leather seat covers. Options include power sliding doors and a DVD entertainment system.

Performance & Handling

Both trims use the same 200-horsepower, three-liter ,dual overhead cam V-6 engine that produces 200 lb-ft of torque and hooks up with a five-speed-automatic transmission. All models are front-wheel drive. The MPV's engine is basically a detuned version of the power plant used in the MAZDA6 sports sedan. As such it runs the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 9.3 seconds, a very respectable time for a minivan. Not only can the MPV handle traffic situations like passing cars and upper highway speeds, it does so without appearing to strain the engine. Not bad for a minivan.

The ride quality isn’t luxurious, but it is absorbent and reasonably comfortable, as the MPV handles bumps pretty well, although the ride is smoother in the ES thanks to the larger wheels. The MPV is billed as a ?performance minivan? and has the handling to uphold that billing. The MPV is closer in size to Asian and European minivans, and thus not as large as many rivals. The advantage is tight maneuvering and confidence-inspiring and predictable handling with steering and braking that are both quite well. There is little body roll and not much fear of ending up on the side in a ditch. The MPV beats the competition when it comes to handling.

Safety

Standard safety gear on the MPV LX includes anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, seatbelt pretensioners, and child seat anchors. The ES has the LX equipment plus side-impact airbags and traction control, two safety features that are optional on the LX trim. Crash test scores are a mixed bag for the MPV. In NHTSA tests, the MP scored a perfect five out of five stars on all performed crash safety tests. Yet in IIHS tests, the MPV received low scores earning the lowest rating of ""poor"" for side-impacts and rear impact/head restraint. In frontal offset tests the MPV earned the second-highest rating of ""acceptable."" Since safety is one of the primary features of concern for prospective minivan buyers, the MPV is in an odd place having only the most basic safety features, and then only as standard gear on the higher trim combined with difficult to decipher crash test scores.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda MPV LX: 16/23 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Maneuverable
  • Road manners
  • Roll-down windows in the sliding doors

You Won't Like

  • Lacks rivals' passenger and cargo space
  • Lacks rivals' safety
  • Lacks rivals' power and features

Sum Up

Solid and quiet van lags newer, feature-laden rivals.

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