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XterraGuy 03-14-2006 11:45 AM

Got ours in January. Some observations...
We were all set to buy a Honda Element (in-laws have one), but I just couldn't get past the fact that it's strictly a 4-seater, Plus I didn't think we really had to drop $20K+ on a new vehicle, so I talked the wife into considering alternatives. I considered the Mazda 3 5-door, Kia Spectra 5, Suziki Forenza wagon, the upcoming Nissan Versa hatchback (last 3 for price more than anything), plus I threw in the new Toyota FJ Cruiser as a possibility (instantly turned down). Actually got her to the Mazda dealer to look at the 5, and although she still preferred the Element, she agreed the 5 was the more practical choice for us (toddler plus 7-year-old) so we ended up getting a Touring w/ automatic (she can't drive a stick, damnit) without the NAV system (does anyone need that crap?).

All in all, a great vehicle. Why the hell isn't Mazda marketing this thing? I hadn't seen one, or even heard of it, until I went to the Mazda site to check into the 3 5-door.

A few rants and raves...

  • Handles like a go-cart, great fun to drive.

  • Power is pretty good, don't know what all the reviews I read were complaining about.

  • Since we don't really need the third row, the storage is wonderful.

  • Didn't care for the manual-shift mode at first, but it has grown own me. Still think it's a gimmick though.

  • Sliding doors are nice to have, definitely sets it apart from the Matrix/Vibe and similar competitors.

  • It's the only "minivan" I could allow myself to own and still carry my man card.

  • Front bumper chin could be an inch higher to clear some of the taller curbs like the one in front of our townhouse.

  • The side sill extensions don't allow the optional mudflaps to be installed, so there's always crap on the rockers.

  • The middle dome lamp is too far back to turn on from the driver's seat.

  • There's barely enough room for my size 11 shoe around the accelerator, I frequently catch the edge of the brake pedal.

  • There's no "dead pedal" for the left foot, so the carpet there gets crap on it. A plastic or metal piece would be nice.

  • I hate the stupid auto climate control system, it should be purely optional regardless of trim.

  • Rear "spoiler" doesn't seem to do much to keep the back window clean.

  • Silly cartridge-style oil filter setup, dealer won't sell you the "tool" you need to change it.

  • Just learned the Canadian market gets heated outside mirrors and the sliding doors that self-close the last few inches, why don't we?

  • Standard 17" wheels. 16" tires with the same diameter/width are considerably cheaper, ride better, and protect the wheels better. I can live with a little less handling response.

  • I think it's now mandated by the US govt. that all non-"car" vehicles have it, but I could do without the tire pressure monitor.

  • I understand why they don't have 'em, but they could use an inboard front passenger and middle-row outboard armrests.

  • No place to store CDs, and beyond that I'd like just a small non-covered storage spot in the center console.

And neither here nor there, but what's with the optional MiniDisc player? Does ANYONE use that format?


XterraGuy 03-14-2006 02:40 PM

Re: Got ours in January. Some observations...
Hmm, now I see that the Japan market even has an AWD version, that would be nice to have too, along with the NORMAL tail lights (don't really care for the "altezza" style) on most trim levels there.

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