2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Review

Pros & Cons

  • Dramatically different styling than soft-top variant
  • Offers the security of a fixed-roof coupe
  • Significantly quieter than the regular Miata
  • The electrically folding roof does not reduce trunk space
  • It's heavier than the soft-top Miata
  • Only part of the roof stows away
  • The tiny trunk will hold only a few items
Other years
Mazda MX-5 Miata RF for Sale
List Price Range
$25,995 - $31,900

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Which MX-5 Miata RF does Edmunds recommend?

Mazda's terrific manual gearbox is the easy choice over the optional automatic transmission. It's among the slickest-shifting manuals out there, and besides, this is a sports car. As a bonus, pairing a manual to the Club version — and only the Club version — bestows the car with a sport-oriented suspension, Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential, underscoring the car's sporting nature. The Miata RF comes pretty well equipped as standard, and options are few. Skip the pricey Brembo brakes, but spring for keyless entry as a very inexpensive way to gain convenience.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF ("Retractable Fastback") is the second member of the current generation of Miata roadster, which was redesigned just last year. Instead of the Miata RF's entire roof disappearing into the bodywork as you might expect, only its overhead roof panel and rear window retract. That is, the Miata RF's bodywork buttresses and horizontal bar behind the passengers remain in place at all times. Though this fixed bodywork means that the Miata RF doesn't deliver quite the same open-air experience as the regular Miata, in return you get a distinct new style for this diminutive two-seat sports car.

The Miata RF's roof stows at the touch of a button in about 14 seconds and can be operated at speeds up to 6 mph. It takes up no more room when stowed than the base Miata's soft top does, so trunk space is not affected. With its electric motors, linkages and panels, however, the Miata RF weighs about 150 pounds more than the base Miata.

What's it like to live with?

Interested in learning about what it's like to live with this little roadster? Check out our long-term reviews for the fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata and the updated 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata. We spent a year and more than 20,000 miles with each of these charming convertibles. In our long-term coverage, you can read in-depth reporting from our editors on everything from the way the Miata drives to its reliability.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF models

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is available in two trim levels: Club and Grand Touring. We prefer the Club for its available sport-oriented hardware, although buyers seeking more comfort and amenities will gravitate toward the Grand Touring's longer list of convenience features. Both trim levels are equipped with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (155 horsepower, 148 pound-feet of torque) and are available with a manual or automatic transmission.

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Manual-equipped Club models are the sportiest, gaining a retuned suspension, Bilstein dampers, limited-slip differential and shock tower brace, making it our version of choice. Brembo front brakes and BBS wheels are optional on Club models only, though the bang-for-the-buck quotient on these bits is questionable.

Grand Touring models — equipped with heated leather seats, navigation, a cloth-lined top, automatic climate control, adaptive headlights and lane departure warning — skew toward the luxury end. These features are nice to have but strike us as being at odds with the Miata's elemental nature. Then again, a power-folding top isn't exactly simple either. Still, at least there's a choice between sport-oriented and comfort-tuned versions, rather than some middling compromise between the two.

Driving

On the road, the Miata RF's expected increase in civility will make long drives more palatable. Its additional weight might be noticeable in extreme driving.

Acceleration

With the same 2.0-liter engine and more weight, the RF will be slightly less punchy than the base Miata.

Braking

Sharing its brake hardware with the base Miata, we expect the RF will perform and feel similar. In our last Miata test, we observed short stopping distances and consistent pedal firmness.

Steering

The Miata's pin-sharp steering hardware carries over but is uniquely tuned for the Miata RF.

Handling

Largely similar to the standout Miata, we expect little degradation in this car's ability to carve corners. We hope the increase in weight doesn't spoil the chassis the way the power-retractable hardtop did in the previous generation.

Drivability

With more comprehensive noise insulation, the Miata RF is said to cut down on road noise, making it a better long-distance driver than the base Miata. Its small size makes it great for tight city parking.

Comfort

4.0
Thanks to suspension tuning that can deal with real-world bumpy roads, the Miata impresses. The Miata RF will likely take an edge off the base Miata's road and wind noise, too.

Seat comfort

4.0
There's a good balance between support and comfort. The seat bolsters do not intrude, yet they hold you in place reasonably well.

Ride comfort

Though Mazda says it has retuned the suspension for the RF, we expect the RF will still be relatively softly sprung. The base Miata swallows bumps surprisingly well, given its sports-car cred and short wheelbase.

Noise & vibration

We expect that there will be less road and wind noise in the RF than in the base Miata. On long-distance drives, this will be a significant advantage.

Climate control

4.5
The Miata's simple climate control interface, with its three large and knurled knobs, is easy to use. The system does a fine job of maintaining the proper temperature.

Interior

3.5
No doubt, this is a small cabin, but Mazda's attention to detail inside has made the most of it. A lot of clever touches make it surprisingly livable. The sills are relatively unobtrusive, though we wish there was a telescoping steering wheel.

Utility

2.5
A tiny trunk, no backseat and limited cabin space mean that this isn't the best if you need to haul larger items. Small items are more easily accommodated, however.

Small-item storage

3.0
The tidy bin between the seats serves as a less convenient glovebox (because there isn't one). It's your primary place to store your items, and it holds an average amount of stuff. That's helpful because the removable cupholders are good for holding cups only.

Cargo space

2.0
A 4.6-cubic-foot trunk? That's tiny, though longtime Miata owners should hardly be surprised. The trunklid lifts easily, and liftover height is OK. There's enough space for a couple of soft duffels and little else.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall
Comfort4.0
Interior3.5
Utility2.5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Zoom, Zoom Just Got More Fun
Tiff,02/19/2017
Launch Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
If you are looking for an extremely fun, beautiful, versatile roadster then purchase the 2017 MX-5 RF Launch Edition Mazda. I made my purchase on 2/9/17 and am already addicted to this car. I actually crave driving it (I've never craved driving a car before!). Don't worry about the professional reviews of the cons being that the RF is of a heavier weight (due to hardtop) than the soft top, that only part of the roof stows away and that there are blind spots. The heavier weight is not noticed at all when driving on city/hwy roads. Maybe if one were to take the MX-5 RF onto a race track one might notice a nano-second difference in 0-60 time but how much race track driving will one be doing (for most of us, very little if any). That only the top portion of the roof stows away is in my mind a pro not a con. As another reviewer noted, he was able to enjoy driving with the top down when the temp was in the 40's. I experienced the same thing. Initially thought I'd have to wait for warmer days to drive with the top down but was able to do so very comfortably when the temp was in the 50's so in my mind this is a plus as I'll be able to enjoy more driving days with the top down. Don't worry about the blind spots (all cars have blind spots) and b/c this car is loaded with safety features that lets you know if someone is in your blind spot and when you wander past lane markers etc (not that I lane-wander when driving, but it's nice to have these alerts). If anything, with all the electronic alerts (that you can adjust to your liking) your blind spots have been essentially neutralized. Cons: I owned 2 RX-7's back in the day & miss the extra room they offered but for the money and intended purpose of the car, this car is the best in its price range currently available. Another potential con would be that if you are over 6' then you might find the cabin a bit cramped. I'm not, so I'm comfortable, but notice that people over 6' don't have a lot of wiggle room in the car. With a Launch Edition, I plan to baby this car so that with time it becomes a 'classic'. Bottom line... This car is a dream to drive and the fun factor is off the charts! :)
First Impressions
Sal D.,02/07/2017
Launch Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
The RF is definitely a different open air experience. I've owned soft top, open-all-the-way convertibles for the past twenty years, and even with the windows up, there's a narrow temperature range where you can feel comfortable driving open top. But the RF is an outlier. I picked up my Launch Edition car ten days ago and figured it would be awhile before I could drive here in the Long Island winter with the top down. But after driving a short while today with the bright sun beating down and warming up the cabin, I decided to test the roof for the first time. Even though temperatures were in the 40's, I was pleasantly surprised. With the top down, windows up and heat set to 72, I was quite comfortable zooming around the local streets. It obviously would feel a bit different at highway speeds, but at least I know that I can enjoy what the car was made for more often. A caveat, though, if you're thinking of buying one: take a test drive with the top down to make sure it's the type of open air driving feel that you want. Also, I'm not going to comment on the driving dynamics yet, as Miata always gets good reviews in that respect and it's only a short time for me so far. Bottom line is that as one person I'm very happy with the car - love the styling and it's the first of its kind.
Smiling all the way
Smiley,04/19/2017
Launch Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
"2017 MX 5 RF Launch manual tranny Drove 4 states to find this gem. Superb vehicle, daily driver through the Blue Ridge, 50 mile round trip at 39 MPG!! Interior finish quality exceeds expectations, fits like a glove for 5 ft 11, unique seat construction contours around you. Bose system includes speakers in the headrest with resonate surround sound, and very user friendly navigation, infotainment software. Exterior paint in gray is exceptional: shimmers like molten liquid. Acceleration, cornering, responsive steering and braking are spot on. This coupe with open top option far exceeds early 2000 boxter , or 1980 Spitfire in my rearview past. Routine maintenance costs will not be the dumpster fire that a $350 oil change Porsche entitles itself to. Keeps this 60 yr old heart pumping, and with its agility, lane departure, blindspot and rear cross warnings, safe on the road. Mazda rocks!"
What a Blast to drive!
Malcolm Leader,03/05/2017
Club 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Once you're in, the seats are great, but getting in and out can be a chore. After a lot of practice, it gets easier. This is the price one pays when driving a low-slung high performance car. Press on the gas and you take off like a shot. Hit the Brembo brakes and you stop quickly. Driving around the mountain passes where I live is bound to put a smile on your face. The handling is great with good steering feedback. For a non-turbo 2.0L engine, it really goes! The shifter is short-throw and a delight. The transmission is up for anything. Clutch is good but abrupt sometimes. I really love this car!

Safety

Our experts like the MX-5 Miata RF models:

Blind-Spot Monitoring
This system sounds a chime if you switch on the turn signal when another car is in an adjacent lane.
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
It sounds an alert if traffic approaches as you reverse from, say, a parking stall.
Adaptive Front Lighting System
This system swivels the headlights in the direction the steering wheel is turned.

More about the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Overview

The Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is offered in the following submodels: MX-5 Miata RF Convertible. Available styles include Grand Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Club 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Club 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Launch Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and Launch Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned Mazda MX-5 Miata RF models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 155 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual, 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF?

Price comparisons for Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF trim styles:

  • The Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring is priced between $25,995 and$31,900 with odometer readings between 3475 and49010 miles.
  • The Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club is priced between $28,800 and$30,000 with odometer readings between 4006 and34680 miles.

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Which used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RFS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2017 MX-5 Miata RFS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $25,995 and mileage as low as 3475 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF.

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Find a used Mazda MX-5 Miata RF for sale - 2 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $18,792.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda MX-5 Miata RF for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $8,277.

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Should I lease or buy a 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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