2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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$20,435

starting MSRP

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Handling potential
  • Performance potential
  • RWD layout
  • Special 3rd Generation Limited model

The bad:

  • Pending further review

6 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 2006 successor to the MX-5 Miata
  • Larger dimensions
  • 170-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Choice of three transmissions
  • Standard side-impact airbags

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Always with the Miata, there was the knee problem. Everything fit in a Miata but my right knee, which seemed to intersect with the console in a manner that I found unacceptable. Several times I’ve been tempted to buy a Miata, and several times, I’ve decided that the knee room was unacceptable.

Funny, isn’t it? Little things can make or break your relationship with an otherwise ideal car.

So when the all-new 2006 Miata — which Mazda would prefer we call the MX-5, as it does elsewhere in the world — showed up, the first thing tested was right knee room.

Better. Much better. Due in part to the redesign of the interior, and in part to the extra width of about an inch and a half, my knee decided we could live with this Miata.

It did not hurt that a great many other things were improved, too. Exterior styling, though still familiar, is fresh and handsome. Two inches extra in length give the car a little more presence and added road stability, though heavy crosswinds and highway speeds will still get your attention.

A gutsy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower — quite similar to engines in other Mazda vehicles — replaces the 1.8-liter, 142-horsepower base engine from last year. That’s with the manual transmission, anyway. With its optional six-speed automatic, which the test car had, horsepower is de-tuned to 166. For a 2,500-pound car, though, it seemed plenty.

One of the Miata’s best features hasn’t changed: Unfasten a single lever above the rearview mirror, and you can flip the top back with one hand. The top folds into a compact little space, then locks into place. You can raise it with one hand, too. It isn’t power operated, but it doesn’t need to be. This is about as simple and near-perfect as a convertible top gets. Mazda still offers an optional removable hardtop if you really want one.

On the road, the 2006 Miata seems as nimble and light on its feet as ever. The new engine feels and sounds just right, and fuel mileage — 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway — adds to the package, and is actually better than with last year’s smaller, less powerful engine. Although the automatic transmission is fine, the Miata really works best with a manual transmission, which would also save you $1,100 off the test car’s $26,095 sticker. The automatic has a typical console-mounted shifter, but also has big, awkward-looking paddles on the steering wheel that let you shift up or down. Thanks, but no thanks.

The 2006 Miata starts at $20,995 for a bare-bones Club Sport version, and tops out at $24,995 (including shipping) for the Grand Touring edition, which was the test vehicle. There are two option packages offered for the Grand Touring model, but it already had everything I’d want, including leather upholstery.

The best buy is the regular MX-5 model at $21,995, which gets you a five-speed manual transmission, a good four-speaker stereo and side air bags. It also adds air conditioning, which is lacking from the Club Sport model. A six-speed manual comes with the Touring, Sport and Grand Touring model, or you can get the automatic.

With the new 2006 Pontiac Solstice, the Miata finally has some sports-car competition in the low-$20,000 range. As nice as the Solstice is, the Miata has one thing the Pontiac model doesn’t: More than 15 years of proven reliability and customer good will. Mazda has messed with success and succeeded in improving an already delightful car.

P.S.: Thanks for the knee room.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.9
  • Interior design 4.3
  • Performance 4.8
  • Value for the money 4.8
  • Exterior styling 4.8
  • Reliability 4.8

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Amazing car

This car was perfect -amazing speed , comfortable, such a beautiful car. I love having the top down feeling the air. I want this car for the rest of my life.

5.0

Fun and Reliable

I purchased this car for my 16 year old. It is the perfect first car for a kid. Who wouldn't love a convertible :) Not only does she have convertible, but she also learned to drive a manual transmission. This car is timeless and fun!

5.0

Super fun and reliable

Great fun car , just put the top down and let the stress from your day disappear. This is my 3rd Miata, never had any major issues.

See all 74 consumer reviews

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