2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata: What's It Like To Live With?
We spent a year with the recently refreshed 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Do the updates make a good car even better? How practical is such a small focused sports car? How is the fuel economy on a cross-country road trip?
|Miles Driven||Average MPG|
Latest Highlights (updated 01/07/21)
- Make the most of it
- What we got and why
- Fuel economy
- Maintenance and upkeep
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Real-World Fuel Economy
A few road trips with favorable conditions nets us the best fuel economy we've seen in our little roadster.
Average lifetime mpg: 31.2
EPA mpg rating: 29 combined (26 City/34 Highway)
Best fill mpg: 40.5
Best range (miles):: 396.1
Current odometer: 10,693
"An impromptu road trip meant I needed to get back to St. Louis, Missouri, to see my family. I was traveling alone and already had the keys to the Miata, so I figured why not take it on a road trip. Since Covid-19 has severely limited our drive time, I wanted to put some miles on the Miata before it heads back to Mazda. I ended up adding 3,823 miles over the course of the trip. I also managed to set some fuel-economy records while I was at it.
Before the trip, the Miata's best tank averaged 36.9 mpg, but it was a short fill that used less than half of the Miata's total capacity. I ended up beating it the first leg of the journey. I left early on a Saturday morning and made it from my apartment in Los Angeles to some small town in Nevada off I-15 northeast of Las Vegas. 396.1 miles and 9.789 gallons for an average of 40.1 mpg. For reference, the Miata has an EPA-rated estimate of 26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. We've exceeded the highway fuel economy rating on a handful of tanks, but we'd never crested 40 mpg. That also proved to be the longest stint on a single tank of fuel.
The rest of the trip was good, but crossing the Rockies and driving into a headwind across Eastern Colorado, Kansas and Missouri meant the little roadster that could never matched that first tank. The overall average for the trip was 35.3 mpg, and that included a significant amount of city driving once I got to Missouri.
Fuel economy isn't the most exciting thing to discuss when it comes to sports cars, but it's worth noting that the Miata won't break the bank when it comes to fuel stops." — Reese Counts, vehicle test editor
|Total routine maintenance costs||$|
|Additional maintenance costs||none|
|Scheduled dealer visits||none|
|Unscheduled dealer visits||none|
|Days out of service||none|
|Breakdowns stranding driver||none|
|Total body repair costs||none|
Items we're keeping an eye on
• Uneven trunk lid
Recalls performed on this vehicle
"The manual rearview mirror is a mixed bag in our Miata. On the plus side, at night manual mirrors are generally better at dulling bright lights than auto-dimming (or electrochromic) mirrors, and auto-dimming mirrors tend to have bezels of un-dimmed glass around the edges. Since the Miata is about as far off the ground as a toddler, the manual mirror is much better at keeping you from being blinded. But only if the top is up.
If the top is down, the manual mirror reflects every overhead lightsource. So if you're driving through an area with tall, lit up buildings and lots of streetlights you have to sort through a ton of visual noise to distinguish cars from scenery. In most cars, having one type of mirror or the other is just an issue of convenience, but in the Miata it's practically calculus." — Will Kaufman, content strategist and news editor
"The rearview mirror on this Miata seems to be magnified more than normal. Cars behind you appear to be tailgating you when in reality, they're at a normal distance. I'm not sure if this is standard for a convertible, but it'll take some getting used to." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor
"The cupholder situation in the Miata is... not ideal. And it gets even less ideal when you bring a passenger along. Thankfully, the storage cubby behind and between the seats does hold a fairly standard size of insulated drink bottle. The lack of a decent cupholder should in no way, ever, keep you from buying a Miata, it's just a minor inconvenience every so often." — Reese Counts, vehicle test editor
"Our Miata has Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, which I like because I am connecting my iPhone almost all the time when I'm driving. CarPlay is meant to work like a phone, so its interface is touch-oriented. But using CarPlay is unusual here because of the Miata's touchscreen.
It has touch functionality only when you're stopped. Once you're on the move you have to use the Miata's rotary knob controller to interface with the infotainment system. Mazda does this to reduce driver distraction, presumably. But operating CarPlay with the knob — you have to spin it to move a cursor around the app icons, and then press the knob down to select — is actually more distracting than just touching the screen. This would work better if Mazda just let you use touch functionality all the time." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"At 6-foot-4, I'm essentially all wrong for the Mazda Miata. My hair brushes against the roof, even if I slouch in my seat, and when I do finally get in, I look like the guy in the Beetle from "22 Short Films About Springfield." And yet, the Miata is so satisfying to drive that the fact I don't fit is of no importance. The quick steering response, satisfying gearshifts, relatively powerful engine and intuitive rev-matching coalesce to form this utterly engaging two-seater. I couldn't daily drive the Miata given my specs, but I want to." — Cameron Rogers, reviews editor
"I'm inclined to say the Miata's (or MX-5 or MX-5 Miata, whatever) exhaust pipes are the best in the business. They stick out just far enough beyond the rear bumper, they're stainless, thin walled and straight cut. Perfect." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Of all the cars in our long-term fleet, this is easily the one I'd prefer to be stuck with during the pandemic. Yes, over our shiny new Tesla Model Y or the bonkers Shelby GT500. Why? Because it's the only car in our fleet that is all fun all the time, even if I'm just doing a lap of the city to get out of my apartment. We all need an escape right now, be it bingeing a TV show or playing video games for hours on end. The Miata is mine. Sure it doesn't have a back seat for friends or a quiet and isolating highway ride, but neither one of those things matters right now. All that I care about when I choose to get behind the wheel is if I can forget about what's going on and do the one thing that I know I love: driving." — Reese Counts, vehicle test editor
"I absolutely love our long-term Miata. My wife and I have seriously considered getting one, though it would be a terrible replacement for her Honda CR-V. She loves the idea of owning a convertible in California and is fine with the Miata's slick, easy-to-operate manual transmission. That's good news for me as I would loath owning this car with the automatic.
It's small and easy to park, a big boon in Los Angeles where parking spaces are small and street parking is a frequent necessity. Fuel economy is excellent, too. We're just a hair behind the EPA combined rating of 29 mpg, but I guarantee it could match or beat it if I quit revving the engine out or upshifted more frequently. The biggest flaw is the lack of power, so I usually leave it in a lower gear around town to make the car a little more responsive. In other ND Miatas I've driven, I've seen 38 mpg over a full tank of highway driving, much better than the EPA-estimated 34 mpg.
But good fuel economy is a boring reason to buy a sports car. I want a Miata because I don't think you can have more fun in a new car for less money." — Reese Counts, vehicle test editor
"I had the fortune of living with our long-term Miata for a little over a week. Now I am someone who has never wanted a convertible, but for that entire week, I never once put the top up unless I parked it. Why? It's quick and effortless to put up and down, and because of that, you don't draw attention to yourself. And this car is so good at being a convertible, too. I know that sounds dumb, but the Miata was designed to be a light, easy and fun convertible while most convertibles are simply converted coupes with showy and complicated top mechanisms - they're just not the same. The Miata is the only convertible I would buy. It's perfect." — Reese Counts, vehicle test editor