Mazda MX-5 Miata
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Overview
Pros & Cons
- Unmatched agility for the price
- Fun-to-shift manual transmission
- Great fuel economy
- More safety features than rivals
- Small trunk and few in-cabin storage cubbies
Notable for 2017
- New MX-5 RF model with power-retractable hard top
Mazda MX-5 Miata Rankings and Research
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata ranking is based on its score within the Sports Cars category. Currently the Mazda MX-5 Miata has a score of 8.9 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 15 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Pictures
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review
With its sharp handling, comfortable interior, and folding roof, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata may well be the most fun-to-drive car you can buy for less than $30,000.
Is the Mazda Miata a Good Car?
The MX-5 Miata has long been a favorite of drivers who want sports-car thrills without a hefty price tag. With exceptional athleticism, a folding top to let the breeze in, and a relatively cheap price, the current model will continue to please, and due to its light weight, it's incredibly fun to drive. Still, there are some downsides. There's barely any trunk space, so don't plan on taking much luggage on the road with you, and it only has two seats.
Should I Buy the Mazda Miata?
If you're in the market for a lightweight, agile and affordable sports car, and you want some top-down fun, you can't go wrong with the 2017 Miata. It is incredibly fun to drive, has plenty of power, and gets great fuel economy. There are also lots of tech features available to keep you happy when you're just cruising along and not tearing through turns. Additionally, the MX-5 sips less gasoline than many rivals. Still, you should cross-shop to be sure the Miata is the best model for you. The Fiat 124 Spider is another convertible sports car that offers the same fun as the MX-5. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 have more-powerful engines paired with lithe handling, but you sacrifice the open air since they don't have convertible tops. The Miata's standard soft-top folds manually and is very easy to open and close. The new-for-2017 MX-5 Miata RF (retractable fastback) has a power-retractable roof that gives the Miata a little more security and a unique look whether the top is up or down.
We Did the Research for You: 15 Pieces of Data Analyzed
While researching and writing this Mazda Miata review, we analyzed 15 data sets, including predicted reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and published automotive reviews. We know you have a lot of options when researching which car is right for you, so we've gathered all the information you need in one place and present it here in a consumer-oriented manner.
The MX-5 was last fully redesigned for the 2016 model year and sees few changes this year. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2016 and 2017 model years.
Why You Can Trust Us
U.S. News & World Report has a decade's long history of producing consumer-focused rankings and reviews. We started ranking cars nearly 10 years ago, and our Best Cars team has 75 years of combined automotive experience. We maintain our editorial impartiality by refusing expensive gifts and trips from automakers, and an outside partner handles the ads you see on our site.
How Much Does the Mazda Miata Cost?
The Miata is the cheapest model in the affordable sports car class, with prices starting at $24,915 for the base Sport trim. Its closest rivals have prices ranging from $24,995 for the Fiat 124 Spider to $26,255 for the Toyota 86. The base MX-5 isn't as well-equipped as the base 86, but for another few thousand dollars you get a lot more features in the MX-5 Club trim.
Mazda Miata Versus the Competition
The affordable sports car segment ranges from small and nimble (but not especially powerful) models like the Fiat 124 Spider, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota 86 to full bore muscle cars with potent V8 engines like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. The Mazda MX-5 Miata fits in with the small and nimble group.
Which Is Better: Mazda Miata or Fiat 124 Spider?
The MX-5 and the Fiat 124 Spider are based upon the same platform and share many features. They have the same infotainment and audio system and similar trunk space. Under the hood, the 124 Spider has a slightly more powerful engine. The 124 Spider gets the same fuel economy estimates as the Miata. They both handle twisty roads with similar agility. Inside the cabin, the 124 Spider has a more upscale feel than the Miata, with better materials. Safety features differ between the siblings, with the 124 Spider offering a rearview camera and parking sensors, which are not available in the MX-5.
Which Is Better: Mazda Miata or Subaru BRZ?
The Subaru BRZ is another excellent affordable sports car. It has nimble handling like the Miata and a more powerful engine. It weighs more, though, so it's not much faster, and the ride can be a little harsh over rough roads. The BRZ has more standard features than the MX-5, including a touch-screen infotainment system, HD Radio, and satellite radio in the base trim. You'd have to pay a couple thousand dollars more for similar features in the Miata. Reliability ratings for the BRZ are lower, however, and it's not available with as many collision avoidance features as the Miata. Plus, it doesn't have a folding roof to let you feel the breeze.
How Many People Does the Miata Seat?
The MX-5 Miata has seats for two. Some competitors, like the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ, have seating for four, though their rear seats are so cramped that only small children can fit. The Miata's seats can be upholstered in either standard cloth or optional leather, and heated seats are also available. The cushions offer plenty of support without being overly restricting. You can easily pivot as needed to close the folding soft top, which should be easy for most folks to do while sitting. The MX-5 Miata RF's retractable roof is power-operated.
The whole car is low to the ground, and Mazda mounted the seats low within the car to give all but the tallest drivers ample headroom. The low-slung hood gives drivers a good view of the road.
Miata Interior Quality
Inside the Miata, you'll find a contemporary style that looks and feels upscale, with some styling elements – like its round air vents – that add to the MX-5's appeal. Most of the materials that line that cabin are high quality and soft to the touch, though there are some hard plastics.
Miata Cargo Space
The Miata has one of the smallest trunks in the class, with only 4.59 cubic feet of cargo room. That's only enough space for a couple grocery bags. Rivals like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 have a couple more cubic feet of trunk space. There are few cubbies inside the cabin to stow small objects, with no glove box or door bins. In place of a glove box is a small, lockable compartment mounted between the two seatbacks. Even the cup holders aren't convenient because they're placed behind your arm and hard to reach.
Miata Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
The base MX-5 isn't as well-equipped as rivals like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86. Both rivals come standard with infotainment systems, while the Mazda Connect infotainment system is only available in higher trims. Still, the Miata's system is intuitive, with straightforward menus that are easy to sort through using the console-mounted knob.
The knob is positioned in an awkward position on the console, however, so depending on where you rest your arm, you can accidentally bump it. The physical controls for climate and audio settings have a straightforward arrangement and are within easy reach.
Miata Engine: Plenty of Power for a Pint-Sized Car
Compared to the engines in the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86, which deliver more than 200 horsepower, the Miata's 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder might sound weak. However, it has plenty of muscle to quickly move the lightweight MX-5 down the road. The standard manual transmission has quick throws and a smooth clutch that make it fun to shift. You can also get the available automatic transmission.
Miata Gas Mileage: Better Than Most
The MX-5 may not have as much power under the hood as the Toyota 86 or the Subaru BRZ, but it burns less gas. The Miata with the manual transmission gets up to 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The 86 and BRZ will cost you around $300 in added gas costs each year compared to the MX-5.
Miata Ride and Handling: Corner Conqueror
Few cars can put a smile on a driver's face the way the rear-wheel-drive Miata can. It has sharper handling than the vast majority of available cars, so there are plenty of thrills to be had when roads get twisty. The MX-5 stays planted to the road and tightly hugs corners. Still, its suspension isn't so stiff that it rides uncomfortably when the pavement gets bumpy, like the Subaru BRZ does.
Miata Dimensions and Weight
With the manual transmission, the soft-top Miata weighs 2,332 pounds and has a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. The automatic transmission increases the Miata's weight to 2,381, and hardtop RF models weigh 2,445 to 2,485 depending on transmission. The MX-5's wheelbase is 90.9 inches, the overall length is 154.1 inches, and the width is 68.3 inches.
Is the Mazda Miata Reliable?
Mazda Miata Warranty
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata comes with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. You'll get the same warranty with either the Subaru BRZ or Toyota 86, while the Fiat 124 Spider has a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a four-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Miata Crash Test Results
The Mazda Miata has not undergone any crash testing from either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Miata Safety Features
Compared to family sedans or SUVs, the Miata doesn't have many advanced safety features. However, it is available with more than most affordable sports cars. The MX-5 can be equipped with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning, though it lacks a rearview camera. The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ have rearview cameras and nothing else. The Fiat 124 Spider has a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.
Which Mazda Miata Model Is Right for Me?
The base Miata Sport is fairly barebones, with just a six-speaker audio system and Bluetooth. The MX-5 Club trim is the one to buy. Not only does it have more interior features, including a Bose audio system and an infotainment system, but also more performance features, like a sport-tuned suspension and a limited-slip differential. The Club trim's combination of interior comfort and entertainment, plus its better performance, make it the best Miata in the lineup.
An automatic transmission is available, with pricing varying depending on trim. Keyless entry and push-button start are standard with the automatic transmission. They're a $130 option with the manual transmission.
The base Miata Sport, which starts at $24,915, comes standard with a four-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, a manual-folding soft top, cloth upholstery, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and a USB port.
Pricing for the Club trim starts at $28,800. The Club model adds a sport-tuned suspension, a limited-slip differential, a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, the Mazda Connect infotainment system, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. A Brembo brake package with upgraded brakes and unique styling elements is available for $3,400 with manual transmission Club models.
The MX-5 RF Club has the same features, along with a power-retractable hardtop. It's priced at $31,555.
The range-topping Miata Grand Touring is priced at $30,065 and comes with leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic climate control, navigation, and lane departure warning. It does not have the Club model's performance features like the sport-tuned suspension or limited-slip differential.
The MX-5 RF Grand Touring has the same features, along with a power-retractable hardtop. It's priced at $32,620.
The Final Call
Drivers looking for maximum fun on a minimal budget should look no further than the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata. No other car in its price range can come close to its corner-carving agility. It may not have the most potent powertrain in a sports car, but its standard manual transmission will give enthusiasts plenty to enjoy when choosing the right gear. The Miata also earns excellent fuel economy estimates compared to rivals. Aside from the thrills of top-down cruising, the Miata is well-equipped with tech features, and there are more optional safety features in the MX-5 than in nearly every competitor.
Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.
- "If you think driving should be a fun experience that stimulates your senses without costing an arm and a leg, or if you just want the thrills of classic top-down motoring without the headaches of owning an old car, then there's no other choice but to buy the new Mazda MX-5." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "To our eyes it still looks best from behind the wheel, where it remains the most fun you can have for the least amount of money." -- Car and Driver (2016)
- "Shorter, lighter and more enjoyable than ever, the new Miata has got more on-road finesse than any vehicle within $10,000 of its sticker price." -- Yahoo Autos (2016)
Research Prices: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata
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