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MX-5 Miata
William Kinton
Automotive Editor - November 20, 2018

Expert Rating

Not Available
26 City / 34 Highway

Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata OVERVIEW

If you were to distill driving pleasure down to a small package, you'd find the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata as the evaporated product ready for bottling. While it isn't packing the most horsepower in the segment, the Miata is incredibly nimble, capable of maintaining insane amounts of speed through the corners, and a joy to drive. These factors combine to make it quite possibly the best sports car you can buy with a price tag south of the Porsche Boxster.

What's New for 2019

The 2019 Mazda Miata may look very similar, but there's a big difference over the last year: the engine's power has been increased from 155 horsepower to 181. While 26 hp may not seem like a lot, it makes a huge difference in a car that weighs less than 2,400 pounds. The Miata also offers more packages, options, and features over the previous model year.

Choosing Your Mazda MX-5 Miata

The Mazda Miata is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 181 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. While this doesn't seem like a lot in a world where you can get a Toyota Camry with over 300 hp, it's perfect for the chassis. While you can get a Miata with a competent six-speed automatic transmission for an additional $1,350, the excellent six-speed manual is the transmission to get. Not only does it connect you to the driving experience better, manual models in some trims are also equipped with a Bilstein sport suspension, a limited-slip differential, and shock tower bracing for better handling. If you get the automatic, you get a softer and less fun Miata in all aspects.

The Miata comes with one of two roof types: a classic soft top or the folding metal roof found in the Miata RF. The soft top is available at all trim levels, but the RF can only be had with the Club and Grand Touring trim levels at a $2,755 premium over the soft top model. This price includes the addition of not only the roof, but also an additional multifunction display in the gauge cluster.

While the Miata eschews many features found in similarly priced vehicles for the sake of driving pleasure, the most basic models still get keyless entry, LED headlights, a six-speaker stereo, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, parking brake, and shift knob. Higher trims are offered with heated seats, leather upholstery, traffic sign recognition, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.


At $26,625 (all prices include an $895 destination charge), the cheapest way to get into a new Miata is with the base Sport trim. For this price, you don't get much outside of the standard features previously listed. Black cloth seats are standard fare, but you get a choice of four paint colors to go with the contrasting black soft roof. It may not be much, but you don't really buy a Miata to be coddled in luxury; you buy it to drive it and the Sport works just fine for that purpose.

The only option package available outside of dealer accessories is the $850 I-Activsense Sport Package, which offers a modest grouping of driver assistance features like low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. There are also accessory packages that verge on the border of an option package like the $425 Interior Package that adds aluminum pedals, door sills, and an oil cap, the $350 Interior Lighting Kit for some interior lighting, and the $1,550 Appearance Package that adds some exterior styling upgrades like a spoiler, front air dam, and side-sill extensions.


The Club trim starts at $30,485, and steps up the features a notch. The Club receives some performance upgrades like the Bilstein sport suspension, limited-slip differential, and front shock tower bracing (on the manual models only), while also adding a nine-speaker Bose audio system with speakers in the headrests so you can hear music with the top down, heated seats, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Club is the lowest trim offered in the Miata RF configuration with the folding metal roof as previously mentioned, and is also available with quite a few more packages over the Sport model. The most extensive package is the $4,470 Brembo/BBS Recaro Package that replaces the standard cloth seats with leather and alcantara-trimmed Recaro sport seats, Brembo front brakes, BBS forged 17-inch wheels, and some aero upgrades. If you'd rather have just have leather seats instead of the tight Recaros, Mazda offers the Brembo/BBS Package for $3,770 that includes everything from the previous package but with black leather seats instead. The I-Activesense Club Package is cheaper than its equivalent in the Sport package at $450, but it only adds automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning as the other two features come standard. Color selection is also increased slightly with the addition of a metallic gray exterior paint for an extra $300.

Grand Touring

The highest trim level for the Miata is the $31,675 Grand Touring, which flirts with the idea of being a luxury car. The Grand Touring gets niceties like adaptive headlights with an automatic on/off feature, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and side mirrors, leather-trimmed seats, and navigation, while all driver assistance features like lane departure warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and traffic sign recognition are standard features. Also of note, the Grand Touring is offered in a metallic blue, offering a bit more color variety to the palette of white, black, grey, and red that other trims offer.

Interestingly, the Grand Touring Package doesn't come standard with the performance upgrades of the Club trim like the Bilstein suspension, limited-slip differential, and shock tower bracing. Mazda sees the Club as the trim more focused toward performance while the Grand Touring is more oriented for overall driver enjoyment, and is therefore a bit softer. To this end, the Grand Touring doesn't get the option of either of the Brembo/BBS packages, but it's offered with the $550 GT-S Package that adds the suspension, differential, and bracing from the Club model to the Grand Touring.

CarsDirect Tip

If you're buying a 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata, get one with a manual transmission. If you don't know how to drive a manual but still want a Miata, find a friend who'll teach you the basics, then buy the manual Miata and hone your skills on it. The manual transmission is a cornerstone of the overall Miata experience, creating one more point of connection between the driver and the machine.

Get your price on a Mazda MX-5 Miata »

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