Minivan; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $3,000*

1991 Mazda MPV 4WD

1991 Mazda MPV Special Edition

1996 Mazda MPV All Sport

1991 Mazda MPV SE interior

1996 Mazda MPV interior

  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Wet-weather traction (4WD)
  • Acceleration
  • Fuel economy

While recent improvements are welcome, the MPV still lags well behind such class leaders in the field, like the new Chrysler minivans and the Ford Windstar in overall roominess, performance, and value.


Mazda entered the fast-growing minivan field in 1989 with its rear-drive “Multi-Purpose Vehicle” featuring seating for five or seven. The 4-door MPV featured a side-opening right-rear door in place of the usual sliding door panel. A 121-horsepower 2.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine was standard. Mazda’s on-demand 4WD version came standard with the optional engine, a 150-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Both engines came linked to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Rear antilock brakes accompanied the 1990 model.

Yearly Updates

1991 MPV
For 1991, Mazda provides its MPV with a new Luxury Package, complete with leather interior, styled alloy wheels from its 929 flagship, and a new 2-tone paint scheme (green over silver).
1992 MPV
Eight-passenger seating and a moonroof are new options for the 1992 Mazda MPV. A couple of powertrain changes were also made. The previously standard 5-speed manual transmission has been deleted entirely. Also, the 3.0-liter V6–optional on 2WD versions and standard on 4WD models–now provides 155 horsepower, up five from last year.
1993 MPV
The MPV is essentially a rerun of 1992, with the only addition being a new keyless-entry system. A driver-side airbag was added in midyear.
1994 MPV
With 1993’s midyear driver-side airbag addition, the 1994 MPV gained a center high-mounted brake light and side-door impact beams.
1995 MPV
Mazda made both powertrain changes and altered the price/trim package offerings provided in its 1995 MPV minivan. The new lineup consists of L, LX, and LXE models, all with 7-passenger seating. Taking a look at the powertrain situation, the previous base engine, a 121-horsepower, 2.6-liter 4-cylinder is gone, replaced with the 155-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 across the board.
1996 MPV
In an effort to remain in the hunt among a growing field of highly competitive minivans, Mazda has added a standard passenger-side airbag, 4-wheel antilock brakes in place of rear-only ABS, and turned all MPVs into 4-door models, thus matching Chrysler as the only other company with a 4-door minivan.
1997 MPV
In an effort to lure sport-utility buyers to the MPV, Mazda added a new All-Sport dress-up package for 1997. Included in the package were a front grille and stone guards, wheel-opening flares, rear bumper guard, roof rack, polished 5-spoke alloy wheels, and a 2-tone exterior paint scheme with extra lower side cladding. Mazda also deleted the base DX model, leaving just the LX and ES.
1998 MPV
MPV returned for ’98 with almost no change and did not return for ’99. However, an all-new model with front-drive and sliding rear side doors would arrive in 2000.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

The Mazda MPV minivans began life with both a 2.6-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V6. While the 4-cylinder provided good fuel economy, all the competing minivans began to stress power and luxury, leading Mazda to drop the 4-cylinder in 1995 and boost the horsepower rating in the V6 from 150 to 155 the same year. In another move calculated to help the MPV stay in step with the market’s preference for carlike features, the manual 5-speed was dropped for the 1992 model year.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)2.6/159
Engine HP121
Engine Torque (lb-ft)149
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.0/180
Engine HP150-155
Engine Torque (lb-ft)165-169
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration on the early models ranged from anemic with the 4-cylinder to adequate with the V6. Over the years though, MPV gained weight without gaining horsepower or torque to compensate. The result is that rear-drive versions now feel sluggish in hilly terrain while the 4WD version, though well-suited to Northern climates, is downright slow. The extra weight is also sure to have a negative impact on fuel economy, which probably won’t reach 20, even in normal highway driving.

The suspension is stable on smooth roads, but stiff and choppy on rough surfaces. The steering seems too light at times, requiring frequent corrections to stay on course. However, the MPV has only moderate body lean and offers good grip, handling more like a car in most situations than a van. The removable rear bench seat added for 1996 marks a big improvement in convenience for the MPV.


Model Tested: 1995 Mazda MPV AWD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 5

Total: 47


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.)Length (in.)Width (in.)Height (in.)Weight (lbs)
Cargo Volume (cu/ft)Payload Capacity (cu/ft)Fuel Capacity (gal.)Seating Capacity
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 MPV 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)


Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Refrigerant leaks from the A/C at the condenser block are often difficult to find using a detector. (1990-93)
Automatic transmission
Description: Third-gear starts and failure to upshift is likely due to the one special short bolt for the transmission-oil pan not being installed in the correct hole. If a long one is installed in its place, it damages the inhibitor switch. (1990-94)
Cold-starting problems
Description: The engine may not restart after sitting 30 minutes in the winter when fuels are more volatile. (1992-94)
Door handles
Description: Loose outer door handles can be fixed by replacing the original retaining nuts with ones that won’t come loose. (1990-94)
Hard starting
Description: If the engine is hard to start, idles rough, or lacks power after timing belt replacement, the tensioner pulley may need to be replaced. (1990-98)
Rear wipers
Description: The hinge on the rear wiper rusts and gets stiff decreasing the pressure of the blade against the glass. (1990-92)
Vehicle noise
Description: A groaning or grinding noise from the front end is caused by the mounting rubber on the upper spring seat. (1990-92)

Recall History

Description: Front seatbelt-release button can break and pieces can fall inside.
Description: Rear brake linings can change over time, producing inconsistent performance.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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