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2002 Mazda MPV

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SAN FRANCISCO: The Mazda MPV has been a player in the minivan market for quite some time. But it has not been a major player with only 32,181 sold versus 430,383 sold for the Chrysler and Dodge minivans in 2001. This is a shame because the MPV is, and has always been, a very nice vehicle. I recently drove a 2002 MPV ES, the top of the line MPV, and came away wondering why more people don’t choose a Mazda MPV.

When the MPV first showed up on the scene it was rear wheel drive (rwd). Now just like almost everyone else, the MPV is front wheel drive (fwd). Although I would personally prefer rwd for its ruggedness and simplicity, fwd allows more interior space in a small overall package. Just about the only folks who look for rwd, besides me, are the commercial people. Mazda knows that the major sales numbers are in fwd vans.

Many minivans tend to look somewhat the same. How many ways can you design a box with wheels? Mazda has managed to make the MPV stand out from the crowd and have a family look to it. If you’re familiar with the Mazda "look" you’ll have no problem picking the MPV out from a crowd.

Every MPV is equipped with a 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, 200 hp, V6 and a 5-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission. This does not turn the 3,800 lb. MPV ES into a speed demon but it is sufficiently powerful so you won’t need to worry about merging into highway traffic. The powertrain package will also return 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, both respectable figures.

Mazda doesn’t quote acceleration figures for the MPV but their ads say "zoom, zoom." The MPV is a nicely balanced vehicle, with good power and "has the soul of a sports car." If you remember sports cars of old, and Mazda’s own Miata, they are not rocket ships or out and out racecars. Rather they are quick, decent handling, fun cars. In keeping with the "zoom, zoom" spirit the ES is equipped with P215/60R17 tires mounted on 17" alloy wheels and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. The MPV doesn’t feel like a minivan. It feels like a good sports sedan. Functionally it is a minivan with all the interior space and convenience.

The interior of the ES version is very nice, almost too nice for little kids. At least the leather "trimmed" upholstery will be easy to clean. There’s seating for seven (the 3rd row "tumbles under" to provide more cargo room), front and rear a/c, power driver’s seat, dual power sliding side doors, power everything, tinted privacy glass, 8 cup holders and 2 bottle holders, map lights, sunglass holder, seat side table and a "super sound system." The LX is not quite so luxurious. Mazda limits your choice to two versions – LX and ES. Neither is what you would call a "stripper" but the ES is the full tilt boogie version.

Don’t expect all of this to come cheap, expect it to be competitively priced. The MPV ES has a base price of $27,192. With options (fog lights, roof rack, in-dash 6-disc CD changer, power moonroof, and 4-seasons package) the price creeps to $29,217. Add delivery and you’re just under $30,000.00. Your basic Dodge Caravan with a V6 goes for $24,345 while the MPV LX is only $22,700 (both prices are according to Automotive News), and so although $30,000 may seem like a lot it’s in the ballpark. Mazda makes good vehicles and the MPV minivan is worth a serious look and a test drive. By Bruce Hotchkiss AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Mazda Home Page

Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  A Minivan with "Zoom Zoom"
Topic:  2002 Mazda MPV
Word Count:   663
Photo Caption:  The 2002 Mazda MPV
Photo Credits:  Mazda Internet Media
Series #:   2002 - 25

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