The Mazda minivan, enjoyed a great deal of success-especially among import-happy Californians-when it was first introduced as a Japanese answer to the American minivan. After all, back then, most believed that the Japanese could top any American effort-even if the concept was generated in the United States. The fly in Mazda's ointment, however, came later with the unveiling of its 4WD offerings. Compared with its American counterparts, the minivans suffered from a serious power shortage something pretty much unexpected from the makers of the powerful RX7 and 626. Indeed, we found the Mazda MPV 4WD minivan to be slow and steady, and yes, the fuel-injected, 3.0-liter, 155-hp V6 engine could have used a little more punch. But despite its lack of get-up-and-go, this solid, heavily-built vehicle gave us confidence when driving in icy, snowy conditions. We found a number of annoying shortcomings with some of the vehicle's features-and the MPV is loaded with extra creature comforts and gadgets. Taken on their own, most of the problems were fairly minor. But added up, they could become bothersome, especially on long trips. The base MSRP was $23,395 and included a driver-side air bag, rear anti-lock brakes (ABS) and alloy wheels. Optional equipment such as dual air conditioning and a power moonroof raised the sticker price considerably to $30,680.
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