Mazda MPV

The Mazda MPV is known for its compact body style and good maneuverability, with comfortable handling and excellent sliding doors. Unfortunately, for a van it has limited cargo capacity and lacks the features offered by competitors.

More on the Mazda MPV
Mazda MPV Origins

Mazda doesn’t settle for having a firm hand in the car market. After it witnessed the popularity of the minivan skyrocket in the 1980s, the company decided to offer the Mazda MPV. Its 1989 offering redefines the standards for what a minivan should be. A V-6 engine and available all-wheel drive made Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list in 1990 and 1991.

Instant copycatting by other car companies quickly eroded Mazda’s sale numbers, but not before Mazda left its mark in the minivan genre. Its ""go anywhere"" advertising campaign for the MPV created a public desire for a more dexterous and sporty minivan.

Mazda MPV Features

Mazda released the third generation of the MPV in Japan, in 2006. Two engine options replaced the previous engine, including a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder Direct Injection Spark Ignition and the turbo version of the same. The second-row reclining seat adds a retracting foot rest, and the gear shift relocates to the center console from the steering column.

The third generation MPV did not release in America, only in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, as the Mazda 8.

The journey of the MPV has been a winding road that has led to ultimate success through persistence. It now represents a staple vehicle on the road in many cities around the world.

Mazda MPV Evolution

The 1989 Mazda MPV offers all-wheel drive and rear drive, a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine, and a traditional hinged rear door instead of a sliding door. The compact style distinguishes it among competitors and spectators in the auto world.

Mazda did not change the MPV until 1996 when it moved away from the 2.0-liter engine and upgraded to the 2.5-liter. The all-wheel drive version of the van released as the MPV All Sport. This generation of the MPV ended after the 1998 model year.

The 2000 model year marked the beginning of a new era for Mazda, the MPV, and other Mazda models. The 2000 MPV uses front drive and the beloved traditional sliding rear doors. Storage capacity greatly improved with a fold-down rear seat.

The MPV received another upgrade in 2002 with a newer and more powerful engine. The 200-hp Mazda AJ engine displaces 3.0 liters and pairs with a five-speed automatic transmission. The cosmetic upgrade to the grille gives the van a refreshing aesthetic appeal, with a chrome bar at the top that makes it stand out, as opposed to the usual fully surrounding bar. Other improvements include 17-inch alloy wheels, traction, and a fine-tuned braking and suspension system. Mazda discontinued the DX model in 2002, leaving only the ES and LX models on the market.

The 2003 model year saw a new base model of the MPV known as the LX-SV. A state-of-the-art DVD entertainment system, one of the most popular options in vehicles worldwide, joins the option list of the MPV as well. All 2003 models also receive new front end styling, new disc brakes, and a rear-section air-conditioning unit.

Mazda earns praise for making a van bigger than a station wagon that still handles better than bigger minivans. Mazda targets the small family unit for the MPV and Mazda doesn’t miss. The versatility of the MPV draws those who still value looking cool while hauling the kids to soccer practice. The MPV holds seven passengers, and even more with the rear seat folded down. If you don’t have a full passenger load, cargo space is seemingly unlimited.

Those looking for a van with a lot of power however, are not as drawn to the MPV since road tests show that minivans by other manufacturers can complete maneuvers that the MPV duplicates with difficulty. The transmission doesn’t provide stellar acceleration and seems to shift gears a little too quickly in certain situations. Some road test reviews state the MPV’s body weighs too much for the engine.

Safety remains a rather duplicitous topic concerning the MPV, since Mazda receives top ratings in crash tests, despite lacking stability control features and side airbags.

A generous fuel capacity allows the MPV a more than respectable 25 mpg on the highway.

Select a Mazda MPV Year

2006 Mazda MPV


Mazda entered the minivan market in1989 with the MPV, which stands for Multi-Purpose Vehicle.

2005 Mazda MPV


The 2005 Mazda MPV is a great minivan for casual driving.

2004 Mazda MPV


The 2004 Mazda MPV is not the typical minivan.

2003 Mazda MPV


The main complaint about the original MPV was that its engine wasn’t powerful enough.

2002 Mazda MPV


The 2002 Mazda MPV is a one of those vehicles that receives little attention but has much to offer.

2000 Mazda MPV


The 2000 Mazda MPV results from a regrouping by Mazda.

1998 Mazda MPV


The 1998 Mazda MPV is a four-door minivan available in two models with a choice of either two- or four-wheel drive.

1997 Mazda MPV


The 1997 Mazda MPV is short for ""Multi-Purpose Vehicle,"" and is a minivan with sedan-like comfort and ride quality.

1996 Mazda MPV


The 1996 Mazda MPV is a rear-drive passenger minivan that comes in three models and is designed primarily as a family van with extra safety features.

1995 Mazda MPV


As an attractive family vehicle, the 1995 Mazda MPV offers three models and comes in either two-wheel- or four-wheel-drive versions.