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SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyer's Guide

NEW CAR REVIEW

Mazda MPV

by Roberta Hill
TACH Reluctant Reviewer

Marc had been given a minivan to test drive for a week and then review. Because of the configuration of our day, and the complications of having two cars in one place, it seemed as though the most logical thing would be for me to drive it home. Sight unseen, I protested. No, I grizzled, I hate those things.... they're too big and for people who have massive families to cart around. I, who likes to keep things - be it in size or quantity - to a minimum, don't need it.

The kids had gone off to mind Mecca's in other cities, and my modest little compact station wagon had served my needs flawlessly for more than 110,000 miles in the past 4+ years. I don't want more, I don't need more. But reason called and I relented.

The Mazda MPV was pointed out to me as we drove up. Nestled in the parking lot amidst a demographer's dream of diversity, it didn't seem too, too big. Um, and it had 4WD written in large letters on the side... that could be useful another day, another place. I was warming to it. Okay, I'd drive it a couple of blocks to the first of many stops planned for the day.

Pulling the automatic transmission into gear was a bit of an arm wrestle...but after that, I was smitten. Over speed bumps, across dips and jiggles in the transition of lot to street, we glided. Smooth as butter, as easy as a kite cutting arcs in a flawless sky we cruised. Was it the shocks? Was it the amply cushioned seats? Who knows, who cares when you're in heaven. We came to stop lights and I could see all those things I knew I'd been missing. I'd always been like the short guy in the back of the elevator who couldn't see what floor I was on 'cause all the men were over 6' and all the women wore high heels. Shoulder to shoulder I now sat next to the guy in the big Ford utility truck; I could see the complex jungle of kids, dogs and related paraphernalia piled high in the other minivans and "jeeps", ...I could see the color green before traffic moved. Yet, while I never tried to fit into a compact car space, I never (yes, I kept the car all day) felt like I'd gained in girth. It was easy to maneuver in traffic...one, because it responded well, and two, because of all the windows I could see what was around me.

During all that driving around in the heat of the day, I stopped for a drink, got my favorite bottled one and found to my delight that Mazda had been inspired to accommodate the container larger than a paper cup. Of the double device provided for front seat use, the one on the driver side was large, the other smaller. I can only assume that that configuration hearkens back to those two generalizations: Men usually drive and women have smaller bladders. What other logic could motivate such a decision?

The MPV doesn't come with a lot of extra doodads like I've seen in ads for other vehicles of this kind... 'course the price tag is more modest, too. I do like the lock box under the front passenger seat. The back seats do all the neat tricks one has come to expect in this kind of car....fold up, lie down. They can be taken out with the help of a friend leaving a nice sized cargo space.

I haven't climbed into the back yet to experience the cushions on those seats. I'd much rather stay in the drivers seat in this minivan so I can control the wheel, the radio station AND the big cup holder.

I like the MPV. Can we keep it till it snows again?

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