My wife and I did a lot of research before buying this minivan. We narrowed it down to the Toyota Sienna and the Mazda MPV. The size of the vehicle was the primary concern because we have a small two car garage attached to our Cape style house. I drove both the Sienna and the MPV into the garage when test-driving. The MPV is smaller, and therefore was a more comfortable fit. When we test drove both vehicles, the Sienna had a smoother ride, but the braking was more laborious. The MPV felt more sporty, and the braking was much easier. The Sienna had slightly better gas mileage (1 mpg better). However, the MPV just had so many more features for less money - and all of that with a government 5 star crash rating.
My husband and I just purchased a used 2004 MPV with 18k miles on it. We have a 15 month old and are expecting another baby soon. The MPV has lots of space without being too boxy or too large. It's easy to get a toddler in/out of carseats in the 2nd row. It would be nice to have a tad more leg room/space between the front and 2nd row but it's fine for kids. I love the cargo space and the "lay flat" 3 row seat. I also like the steering wheel radio controls and the center console that can be up or down. The handling of the MPV is awesome! Feels like you're driving a luxury car instead of a minivan. It turns smoothly and easily, accelerates beautifully (but I'm a conservative Mommy).
Space, smooth, fun ride, excellent handling on curves, interior design/features.
Darker interior for messy kiddies, more space between front seat and 2nd row (for adult passengers).
Van is excellent except for the transmission. It jerks shifting from 2nd to 3rd especially on a stop and go traffic. Brakes are noisy first thing in the morning, disappears after it warms up. Had the TCM reflashed 3 times to correct the transmission jerk to no avail until second dealer replaced it with a brand new TCM. Still jerks a little bit but not as pronounced. Have to learn to live with it. But will go back to Toyota or Honda next time.
The overall size of the van is perfect for my family. Easy to maneuver, feels like a car.
Spend some more time improving the transmission. It is obvious that it is a manufacturer design problem.