When my first son was born my wife said "we need a minivan!". I strongly disagreed. So we "compromised" and got a minivan. But as it turned out, I loved this van...for the first 6 years of ownership. Then I started to see a little rust at some of the body seams. Hmmm. And the rust kept going. Now, the van is 10 years old and starting to rust though *FROM THE INSIDE* at the bottom of the doors. For reference, I have a 12 year old lexus with zero rust. I don't live an area that uses road salt and I maintain the exteriors of my cars with washes and waxes regularly - Google "mazda rust" and you'll see that all the mazdas of this era have premature rust problems. Other than that the van has been OK; I have replaced only the drivers window regulator and the coil packs twice and the radiator just this year (85K miles). There is a small oil leak from the oil pan. On the plus side, my wife loves the visibility and ease of parking (it's a "skinny" van). My son loves the view from the back seat and complains about not being able to see out of every other car we drive. But overall I feel like the van aged too fast too soon, and now I'm stuck with a van with no resale value. I do not recommend a used MPV and would not buy another mazda anytime soon.
Driving the van is very pleasant. The gear shifter gets in the way of the console, but the controls on the steering wheel make up for most of the inconvenience. Gas mileage better than in my previous minivans. Drives more car-like than many other vans I tested.
Price, Price, Price.The fold-under third bench is what also sold me on this van. Also, in and out access is car-like as is the steering and general handling. Roll down windows on the sliding doors is also a great feature.
The gear shifter should be shorter or on the floor, so it's not blocking the console. Also, no access to general indoor lighting by the driver is inconvenient.