2004 Mazda MPV

Change year or car

Change year or car

$23,490

starting MSRP

2004 Mazda MPV

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Maneuverability
  • Steering response
  • Ride comfort
  • Seat comfort and support
  • Compact dimensions

The bad:

  • Occasional engine noise
  • Less interior space than most rivals

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • LX

    $23,490

  • ES

    $28,460

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2004 Mazda MPV trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 200-hp V-6
  • Five-speed automatic
  • Available side-impact airbags
  • Manageable size
  • Roll-down second-row windows

2004 Mazda MPV review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

All Dolled Up, but Still a Minivan
By Warren Brown

Mazda introduced its MPV family vehicle in 1988 in a bid to have it taken seriously as a minivan.

That was four years after Chrysler Corp. created the minivan market in the United States with the introduction of its Caravan and Voyager models.

Minivans were popular then. Sport-utility vehicles were few. Station wagons seemed nonexistent.

But popularity often is a predecessor to contempt; and in due time, minivans became contemptible to many auto buyers for reasons having nothing to do with their intrinsic value.

SUVs eventually supplanted the tubular vans as favored family haulers; but SUVs also became successful enough to engender public enmity. Station wagons, at least as a vehicle category, died in the energy crises of the 1970s and never quite rose from that grave.

Thus, the term “station wagon” joined the list of opprobrious automotive nomenclature along with “SUV” and “minivan.”

But although fashions change, basic transportation needs seldom do. People still have families. Families still consist of children and adults. Children and adults still have a need to transport themselves and their things, often in large numbers.

The tested 2004 Mazda MPV does all of those things quite well. But competence is no guarantor of sales. Favorable public perception is needed for retail glory. That is why Mazda is begging consumers to think of its new MPV as anything but a minivan, SUV or ordinary station wagon.

“The Mazda MPV would be more accurately called a large sport wagon with seating for seven than a run-of-the-mill, grocery-carting minivan,” the company says in its MPV press materials.

Mazda has a point, at least in contending that its new MPV is not “run-of-the-mill.”

With its restyled headlights, new hood, more muscular front fenders and new, more aggressive-looking grille, the 2004 Mazda MPV looks less like a minivan than previous models do. Other cosmetic surgery, including new bumpers and backlights, give the MPV’s rear end a tight, sporty look. Myriad interior changes — including new fabrics, new headrests, a more ergonomically designed instrument panel and the addition of a standard rear air conditioner — also support the illusion that the new MPV is something more glamorous than a minivan.

But illusion is illusion, even when it comes with sporty 17-inch wheels (on the tested MPV ES), or attractive 16-inch wheels on the LX model.

Beneath all of that puffery is a healthy helping of traditional minivan practicality including multiple cup holders and storage spaces, manual folding bench third-row seats, power sliding side doors granting easy mid- and rear-cabin access for children and grandparents, and that good ol’, telltale minivan rear hatch.

And if “sporty” implies brisk speed and crisp handling, well then, it remains a b it of a stretch to apply the term to the MPV ES.

That is not to say that the MPV ES is a slug. The front-wheel-drive vehicle’s 200-horsepower, V-6 engine is more than competent for highway travel, especially in the flatlands. But in the highlands that engine develops a bit of a whine relieved only by dropping its five-speed, overdrive automatic transmission into third or second gear.

Handling is also good. There was little difficulty turning the MPV ES around in tight spots in the Allegheny Mountains. But its wide body rendered it kite-like in high winds, thereby requiring a bit of a struggle at the steering wheel to keep it on the straight and narrow.

Verdict: The 2004 MPV ES is a minivan. As presently constructed, even with all of its changes, it will remain a minivan. If that bothers you, buy something else that isn’t.

Nuts & Bolts

Downside: Minor, arguable picks, really. Like, I wish the MPV ES had a 250-horsepower engine to help move its considerable weight of 3,812 pounds.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Good in all three categories. There is nothing special here, but what exists is certainly more than adequate for sensible drivers.

Head-turning quotient: It is a minivan. It attracted attention only from people in other minivans.

Body style, layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, four side doors with rear hatch.

Capacities: The MPV ES has seating for seven people. Maximum cargo capacity is 128 cubic feet. It can be equipped to tow up to 3,000 pounds. Fuel capacity is 19.8 gallons of gasoline. Regular unleaded is okay.

Engine/transmission: The MPV ES is equipped with a 3-liter, V-6 engine that develops 200 horsepower at 6,200 revolutions per minute and 200 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine is linked to a five-speed automatic transmission.

Mileage: I averaged 22 miles per gallon in mostly highway travel.

Safety: Side bags, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes.

Price: Base price is $28,230. Dealer invoice price on base model is $26,080. Price as tested is $29,230, including $1,000 in options and a $520 destination charge.

Purse-strings note: A good van, competitively priced, surrounded by competition including the Toyota Sienna, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.6
  • Interior design 4.2
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 4.3

Most recent consumer reviews

4.6

Realiable and comfortable 250K+ miles

I've enjoyed it thus far. Purchased used at 4 years old and 69,000 miles. Is 15 year old car with 250k miles now. There is an issue with misfires in engine coil packs # 4 or #5 from the diagnostic instrument readings. I've replaced this about 4 times with my neighborhood mechanic until it was recommended to not use aftermarket spark plugs and coil pack by the dealer. It was recommended to use the original spark plugs with which i have not had a problem with OEM parts since. It fits the two passengers up front so comfortably. Rear captain chair seats sit higher than I like but my 6' son has no problem sitting in the back. I can either hall people or equipment but not usually both. I love the flip back 3rd row as a tailgating bench which opens up to the lift gate. A super value and the most car for the money.

4.7

Over 200,000 miles and still kicking!

This van by Mazda was a perfect mix of utility and sportiness. I can haul 6 people with ease, 7 in a pinch. It can haul just about anything (furniture, bikes, etc) with the rear bench folded into floor and middle chairs folded forward. The dual power sliding doors are great for kids and the power windows within them were ahead of their time. The V6 is peppy but thirsty. The MPV rides great and hugs the road like as you'd expect from a Mazda. I just with they kept making them! I need a new one

4.7

The Mazda MPV minivan was ahead of it's time

These are becoming harder and harder to find and that's a shame. I bought our current MPV used in 2012 and it had many options found on newer vans. It had dual power sliding doors, power sliding door windows, fold flat rear bench seat, and just about power everything else. It had cloth interior even on an upscale model which imo lasts longer than leather. It's sporty with a peppy v6 engine and had great looking aero kit with fog lamps. About the only cons to own this van - at least in my climate - is the rust. The vehicle has started to rot from the rear wheel wells and along all the bottoms of the doors. Other than that the vehicle has been a solid family hauler and commuter for me. I've moved bikes, furniture, kids and all sorts of stuff in it and the van never bulks at me. I'll be really sad when it kicks the bucket. At this moment I'm at over 217,000 miles and still going strong. Mazda - if you're out there listening - bring it back! I'll buy one right now :)

See all 13 consumer reviews

Compare the competitors

2003

Ford ZX2

$13,205

starting MSRP

2001

Isuzu Rodeo

$17,990

starting MSRP

2005

Pontiac Montana SV6

$24,520

starting MSRP