Basic, but relatively reliable transportation
At 73,000 km the gas tank started leaking. Cost to replace with a non-Mazda tank was $800 Can (at dealer in Ontario). At the time the fuel pump and pump mounting assembly was re-furbished and re-used.
At 95,000 km the fuel pump failed. The mounting assembly was not re-usable this time due to deterioration (rust), which resulted in an additional $1,000 bill. Fuel pumps are available after-market. Fuel tanks are available after-market. However, mounting assemblies are not available after-market. Mazda does not offer the mounting assembly separately, even though (as noted by the dealer) the mounting assembly sits in a depression at the top of the tank and is prone to rust. Mazda only sells the fuel pump and the mounting assembly as an entire unit ($750 part). This is compared to the aftermarket pump only at $300 and the Mazda fuel pump only at $550.
Locks are easy to break into.
Transmission overheats easily when towing moderate loads.
This vehicle has been in my family since new. I acquired it in 2003 at 73,000 km (honestly...it was owned by a little-old lady). Since new the truck has needed little other than routine maintenance, breaks, etc. and the gas tank / fuel pump as noted previously.
Surprisingly even coming from Northwestern Ontario, with rust-proofing when new and yearly "rust-check" spraying during later years, the vehicle's body and frame are in very good condition with only some minor rust-spots to attend to (wheel wells and rear quarter panel just above exhaust tailpipe). In comparison, my Isuzu which was a British Columbia vehicle (spending winters in Arizona with the first owner) was a rust-bucket.
The trip across Canada from Ontario to British Columbia in mid-November (over minus 25 degrees Celsius, without windchill for a good portion) went without incident.
Fuel economy based on one-year of close tracking averages 25 imperial mpg. This is mainly highway commuting approximately 60 km per day. I would have expected better economy given the fuel injection and the fact that my 1989 Isuzu pickup, with a larger 2.6L four obtained close to 30 mpg over the same route.
I had to replace the rear seatbelts in order to register the truck in B.C. (The dog ate them!). I was surprised at the additional number of plugs, bolts, screws, etc. used to put the rear of the cab together, compared to my experience dismantling the Isuzu (not related to a dog).
The cabin is somewhat small and the front bucket seats could use more support and leg room (my Isuzu was more comfortable). However, the Mazda has more rear jumpseat room than the Isuzu (as reported by my 12 and 14-year-olds).
The gas and brake pedal on the automatic are too close together.
I have towed a small tent trailer (1,200 lb) with this vehicle for distances up to 400 km one-way. As I discovered the hard way (hence the one-way), the automatic transmission needs an auxiliary cooler. Also in the event that the transmission does over-heat and boil-over, the overflow tube is positioned directly above the transmission. This causes the discharge of transmission fluid onto the over-heated transmission. The fluid is blown to the rear and is sprayed all over the floor-pan and hot exhaust by the driveshaft. (The resulting fire was quickly extinguished, after it was realized waving motorists were not just being friendly.)
The dealer in British Columbia did, I believe, give me a good deal on the labour to install the new fuel pump. However I feel they were slow to diagnose the problem and to check that the mounting assembly was in good enough condition to re-use, after I warned them that it had been refurbished once before. The dealer ordered the aftermarket pump and then removed the tank to discover that the assembly indeed could not be re-used. This caused a 2-day delay in repairing the vehicle while a Mazda part was shipped from Ontario (no parts warehouse on the West Coast).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th December, 2004