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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 Overview

Perpetual Popularity

The Miata must be the most resilient car of the last decade. Though its basic size and shape have not changed in years, the popularity of Mazda's little roadster appears unwavering. Of course, it is easy to see why the Miata is so loved. With its Lotus-inspired good looks, reasonable sticker price and go-kart like handling, there are few cars that can seduce a buyer the way the Miata can.

The Miata is offered in two trims: Miata and Miata LS. For 2004, the Miata receives some minor appearance upgrades such as new wheels and color choices. Pricing remains almost unchanged with the base Miata starting at just $22,388 (that includes destination.) In and of itself, the base car is probably all you really need to experience hours of pure driving joy. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, rear defroster, dual power mirrors, fog lights, AM/FM stereo with CD, leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy wheels and power windows.

For those seeking more features, the LS adds cruise control, racy 16-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, leather seats, a Bose audio system and keyless entry. Later in the model year, Mazda will introduce another series of "special edition" cars that feature unique colors and wheels.

The Miata is a small car; there is no getting around that. In everyday traffic you'll likely find yourself dwarfed by gargantuan SUVs and pickups, a fact that sometimes makes it difficult to see around traffic. Fortunately, what the Miata lacks in stature it more than makes up for in ability. The Miata is so nimble and easy to maneuver that you can dart past those rolling roadblocks to quickly find your way clear. Once the road changes from straight-line cement to serpentine asphalt ribbon, the only SUVs you'll see will appear in your rearview mirror, slowly winding their way past curves you just negotiated at twice their speed.

The Miata may be small on the outside, but we think that you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how efficient this little roadster is when it comes to accommodations. Roadsters of the past had trunks that were little more than a glorified glove box, but on the Miata, you'll actually find enough room for two pieces of overnight luggage—and that's with the spare tire in place.

Inside the cockpit, you'll find a set of cloth bucket seats, sculpted to take up as little room as possible while still providing an acceptable level of comfort. Drivers under six-feet should have no problem fitting into the Miata, though getting in and out of the car is tantamount to sitting down on the floor. With the door closed, the Miata proves a snug fit, sandwiching you between the door panel and the tall center console; the fit is more glove-like than cramped elevator and you'll love the way the low seating position allows your arm to fall at a 90-degree angle when grasping the shift lever.

You'll also love the interior layout, especially the white-faced gauges, the three-spoke Nardi steering wheel and the amazingly simple-to-operate top that can be raised and lowered with just one hand. Don't forget to take notice of the standard glass rear window, a definite improvement over the old plastic window that was easily prone to cracking and yellowing.

The Miata is motivated to action by a sturdy 1.8-liter engine. Though it only produces 142 horsepower, this engine has all the muscle it needs to get the little roadster up and running and the sound it produces fits perfectly with the car's roadster image. The Miata's quick action five-speed transmission requires such short, throws that you can operate the lever with little more than a flick of your wrist. LS trims come standard with an even better six-speed manual; the sixth gear allows the engine to rev a little lower during highway cruising, thus saving a bit on fuel.

On the road, you'll discover that the Miata's 50/50 front to rear weight distribution gives it an uncanny sense of balance. A fast turn of the steering wheel and the Miata responds with a lightning-quick directional change. Press hard on the brakes and marvel how quickly the Miata comes to a level stop, even without the assistance of the optional anti-lock brakes. You can drive this car for hours and never stop being amazed at how well it performs—and that's just what Mazda hopes you'll do on a daily basis.

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