Used Mazda MPV review: 1993-1999
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Moving people is the most basic of our motoring needs, and once it was a simple choice between a sedan and a wagon, but today the choices are many and varied. The sedan and wagon are still with us, but the four-wheel drive wagon has become a popular choice for families who might once have bought a wagon, as is the peoplemover that offers a range of seating options with plenty of space to carry the gear that goes with the kids.
The first peoplemovers were based on commercial vans and were pretty unsatisfactory devices. They had miserable performance, were uncomfortable, unstable, handled poorly and braked in a fashion.
With that ancestry it’s no wonder that peoplemovers got a bad rap, but it’s an unfair one now that carmakers have taken them seriously and produced a generation of cleverly engineered, safe and comfortable vehicles. And if you believe Honda’s advertising for the Odyssey peoplemovers are even sexy.
Toyota was one of the first companies to move away from a commercial base when it purposely designed the swoopy Tarago as a peoplemover. It sparked a whole new generation of similar peoplemovers, including the MPV from Mazda.
The MPV isn’t perhaps the best known of the peoplemovers on offer, but it was a solid performer that is still giving its owners good service.
Unlike the space-age styled Toyota Tarago there was nothing flashy about the MPV’s looks. It was a basic box on wheels, albeit a big box able to seat eight people, at a squeeze, in three rows of seats.
The packaging was conventional with a bonnet at the front and drive through the rear wheels, which in many ways was a compromise that ate into the available interior space.
Rather than sliding doors as used by most other people-movers the MPV had four regular swing open doors.
If the exterior was a trifle bland it was matched by the interior, which was plain to say the least and awash with dull and dreary grey plastic everywhere you let your eye wander.
The MPV’s saving grace, however, was its long list of standard equipment, which meant you had to consider it if you were in the market to buy a peoplemover then, and now if you’re thinking of buying a second hand peoplemover.
On the features list were dual-zone air-conditioning, cruise control, airbags and ABS, and you could add to that a V6 engine which gave it a turn of speed lacking in most other models in the class.
With 115 kW and 232 Nm on tap from the 3.0-litre single overhead camshaft V6 the MPV could outperform most of its rivals. While it was quick off the line the downside was its fuel consumption. It simply couldn’t match the four-cylinder models at the pump.
There was one transmission choice, a smooth four-speed auto with a column shift.
When launched in 1993 the MPV was a seven-seater with colour-coded bumpers and door handles, central locking, power front windows and mirrors, and a six-speaker radio-cassette sound system.
A revised model range in 1996 saw it grow into an eight-seater with a flexible seating arrangement that can be adapted to the many and varied needs of a family on the move.
IN THE SHOP
With the last of the first generation MPVs around 100,000 km and due for a major service it’s imperative that you check for a service record. Cam belts need to be changed so make sure they have been done according to the service schedule.
It’s worth taking a close look at the interior. A combination of kids and cloth trim can be a sticky one so look for gum, discarded sweets and their wrappers stuck to seats or in crevices.
Take a close look at the exterior for signs of panel damage, mismatched paint, scratches, scrapes and dings etc. from action in the supermarket war zones sometimes called parking lots.
Generally the Mazda holds up well in service, the engine and driveline give little trouble and rear drive layout is simple.
IN A CRASH
With dual airbags standard and ABS brakes the MPV safety picture is quite bright. Its conventional bonneted layout, with rear wheel drive adds to its safety.
Jo and Garry Hubbard have done 128,000 km in the 1996 MPV they have owned for eight years. They say it has been a very reliable family car able to seat eight in comfort with good performance and handling. Their only criticism is its fuel consumption, which they describe as “average”.
• bland but safe styling
• high level of equipment
• safe, responsive handling
• good performance from V6 engine, but at the expense of fuel economy
• seats up to eight
• generally robust and reliable
THE BOTTOM LINE
Solid and reliable family transport with good performance. but at the cost of fuel consumption
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|(base)||3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$2,400 – 4,070||1993 Mazda MPV 1993 (base) Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data