2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata - The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata is what a true sports car is supposed to be.


Prices: $25,000-$31,000 (estimated)

The 2017 MX-5 Miata is a fourth generation grown-up version of the original Miata that hasn't lost its fun-loving personality

The original arrived as a 1990 model with pop-up headlights and revived the market for small sports cars in America because it was affordable and modernized the classic sports car concept.

The 2017 Miata (let's drop the official "MX-5 designation for now) is sold as Sport, Club and Grand Touring models. List prices haven't been announced as of this writing but are estimated to approximately range from $25,000 to $31,000. There are Sport, Club and top-line Grand Touring models.

Coming is a Miata with a power retractable targa top and fastback roofline. The previous generation Miata had a more conventional folding hardtop.

The MX-5 Miata now on sale has a more muscular look that it got last year. It has a wider, sleeker body, wider tracks, a more aggressive front fascia and smoother, sportier lines. The hood is lower, and windshield pillars are yanked back and made more upright for better visibility.

All versions have a high-revving 2-liter four-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower. Doesn't sound like much? Well, the Miata only weighs approximately 2,300 pounds, so acceleration is quick. (0 to 60 m.p.h. in approximately 6 seconds.)

I found fourth gear to provide the best 65-75 m.p.h. passing times. Even fifth provides an acceptable passing time, but sixth is strictly an overdrive gear.

My test Miata delivered in the mid- to high teens in the city and low 30s on highways. Premium fuel is recommended.

I tested the Grand Touring MT, which had a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic with a manual shift feature also is offered.

The manual has short throws and works with a light clutch. However, it calls for some muscle to use because it's notchy. I've found Miatas with the efficient six-speed automatic transmission to be far less tiring to drive in congested traffic.

The Miata is a low, small car with wide doors and two supportive seats in a snug cabin with several storage areas. You must "fall in" to enter the cabin and "climb out" to leave it.  It helps to be agile and on the thin side.

Gauges can be quickly read, and controls are easy to use. Climate controls are especially large. But the dual beverage holders are between and behind the seats, where they're difficult to reach.

However, my test Miata Grand Touring MT had power windows, automatic air conditioning, heated leather-trimmed sets and a color touchscreen display, along with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It even had a Bose audio system with nine speakers.

The manual cloth top took just seconds to lower and erect. It's one of the best convertible cloth top I've encountered.

The steering was firm, but  extra-quick. Handling almost seemed in the go-kart class. The ride was fine on smooth roads, but highway or freeway expansion strips caused the Miata to bounce a bit. This isn't a comfortable car for prolonged highway travel.

The trunk isn't very large, but is nicely shaped and deep enough to handle, for instance, a fair amount of groceries or two overnight bags. The trunk cover opens on struts so they don't get in the way of cargo.

Open the heavy hood, which is supported by a prop rod, and you'll see an engine that looks like a piece of sculpture. It's set way back to help create sharp handling.

As always with Miatas, the 2017 model has an over-the-top personality characterized by driving fun.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.