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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK, I got a coupon in the mail for a $25 gift certificate for a Mazda test drive--so I trucked on over to the Mazda dealership and asked to get into their best sedan, the Millenia S Special Edition.

The "Special Edition" sedan came with "titanium" trim on both the exterior and interior. Plus it only comes in black. Its 17-inch wheels receive a gunmetal titanium finish, and so do its grille bars. Inside, the car sports a two-toned ivory/black trim and a "titanium" center console.

The car looked sharp, if somewhat unremarkable, at first glance. I liked the fascia and projector halogen (yes, projector halogen) headlights. There was no Xenon HID option, surprising for a car in this price range.

The Special Edition Millenia's interior looked--how do I put this kindly--schizophrenic. I thought the two-toned scheme clashed against the brushed titanium console, creating a look that was neither luxurious nor sporty, just confused. Once seated, though, I thankfully forgot that the interior had two clashing colors. Still, the titanium console looked out of place with the rest of the interior.

A flick of the dash-mounted ignition, and the car easily came to life. The climate control system switched on the AC with a very loud clunk. There were the standard amenities to be found. The powered seats allowed me to find a comfortable position effortlessly, although I could not get the headrest to adjust far enough forward. The steering column had powered tilt, but no telescoping feature, but the preset distance was good enough for me. The wheel featured the usual buttons for controlling the stereo and cruise control. I liked the auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in electronic compass, although none of its buttons were labelled; even the salesman was at a loss as to what their functions were.

The dashboard display was striking. The entire panel turns dark when the ignition is off, and must be backlit to be visible even in the daytime. Although this made the display unique, it also means that you would lose sight of the entire panel if your backlight circuit ever blows a fuse, even in broad daylight. Nevertheless, the display was crisp and easy to read.

The fit and finish of the cabin was above average, although not especially nice. I felt that the rubbery compound used for the dashtop and door trim was a little on the cheap side, and the center console layout was somewhat awkward. However, every button and knob was clearly marked, and placed within easy reach.

OK, time to hit the road. The car certainly had adequate power under the hood for acceleration, but I would hesitate to call it a "sports" sedan. Its suspension was apparently tuned for comfort rather than handling, and its engine did not impress until you pushed it hard towards its 6000 RPM redline.

The 4-speed automatic transmission proved smooth on the upshift, but quite difficult to control for downshifts. You see, instead of popping the shifter down to get from 4th gear to 3rd, you were supposed to push a tiny "HOLD" button placed right below the release button on the shifter knob. This confusing setup proved so cumbersome that I completely gave up on it and simply stomped on the pedal instead of downshifting to anticipate the next passing maneuver.

I found this car's handling on curvy roads passable at best, partly because the engine did not provide sufficient power to exit corners gracefully. Maybe I had to stomp on the gas a little sooner, but I found myself expecting a more lively response than what the engine actually delivered; and I clipped the turns a little sooner than I wanted. Braking was soft and mushy: one straight-line emergency braking maneuver I attempted caused the car to twitch skittishly, although overall braking distance was adequate.

However, the ride was exceptionally smooth and quiet. The seats provided ample space to stretch and relax, and the car smoothed out railroad tracks and expansion joints with aplomb. This was a vehicle made for relaxed cruising, with just the right steering response to keep you feeling comfortable on the highway. The expansive view afforded by the windows provide good visibility. In fact, I was able to maneuver the car around very tight corners after only minutes in the driver's seat.

The final verdict? If I could sum up this car in a word, it would be "adequate". It is definitely more "sedan" than "sport", and would disappoint more performance-hungry consumers. Stay away from the Special Edition; its added "features" seemed silly to me.

I left the vehicle wanting more. For the $32,000 price tag that this trim level commands, I wanted a peppier engine, a better-designed shift gate, and a much nicer interior. In fact, I found it hard to justify recommending this car over the more affordable Honda Accord EX V6. Surprisingly, the Accord is sold as a Midsize car while the Millenia is marked as a Compact.

Also perplexing is the list of features that I could not get on this car: no Xenon HID. No sport-tuned susupension. No sequential shifter. No navigation unit. In other words, features that other cars in this price range offer to remain competitive.

In short, Mazda badly needs to rejuvenate the Millenia to remain competitive at this price point. If you want a comfortable sedan for the long morning commute, this car will prove more than adequate. But such a steep price tag for a compact car of this trim level is difficult to justify, so be sure you look at the Accord or Altima before you jump on this bandwagon.

You can also find this review on epinions.com
 

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Acuraworld Junior Member
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Just make sure you plan on keeping the Millenia for the long haul. The resale value on them is deplorable.

My dad leased one for a while and it was a decent ride and we didn't have any major problems with it. It might as well be a 626 though when I think about comparing it to my 2000 3.2 TL.
 

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Sway bars Dave, do they have sway bars, huh, huh? I know they have a $6,000 discount at Sunflower Mazda on 119 & I35.
 

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Dave, go test drive the '02 Lexus ES300 at Superior. I'd like your opinion on this car. As always, good description and unbias review.
 

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Acuraworld Junior Member
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Different Dave but I am familiar with the Millenia.

I remember it to have good handling although I agree with Daverman in saying it isn't much of a sports sedan. It is mainly lacking in power, even in the Millenia S.

I think the Millenia handles better than a 2000 Lexus ES300 but doesn't ride as smooth.

JMHO on the Lexus ES300. It is a great car but it is not a spirited car and is a little expensive for what you get. Based on your question about sway bars, I would look at other sedans such as the 3.2TL or the Infiniti I30t. Lexus is a great car as I said but you do pay a premium for the Lexus name and quality.

David
 

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Oracle11iGuru
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SuperDave the sway bar is an inside joke related to Daverman's article on his Maxima review. Thanks for the info though
 

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They are nice looking - always have been - but they are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy overdue for a full re-do -- thats the same coupe thats been around since 94 when they were going to introduce it as an Amati -- just reskinned and freshend -- same underpinnings
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
2001TL4KCdude said:
SuperDave the sway bar is an inside joke related to Daverman's article on his Maxima review. Thanks for the info though
:yes: That's right, inside joke...

I may just go over to Superior to test drive the ES300 for the heck of it. I'm also curious as to how it performs! Have you driven one yet?
 

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Acuraworld Junior Member
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I have driven the previous model but not the new ones. I just know they are based on the Camry's pretty heavily as I am sure you do. The reviews I have read about the Camry mention how boring it is to drive. As with the previous Camrys, beneath the nice and sporty looks, lies a conservative, purposeful vehicle. The Lexus ES300 has no reason to change that image since they have the IS300 in the sport sedan sector.

Let me know if you think the ES300 is more lively than I am giving it credit for.

David
 

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daverman said:

:yes: That's right, inside joke...

I may just go over to Superior to test drive the ES300 for the heck of it. I'm also curious as to how it performs! Have you driven one yet?
yep I did test drive the ES300 in '00. they were pretty nice, quiet. I am bias towards the Honda/Acura. Especially since my 1st car was a 82 Accord. I gave it to my brother at 288,000 miles and I was still running
 

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I am no one
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2001TL4KCdude said:


yep I did test drive the ES300 in '00. they were pretty nice, quiet. I am bias towards the Honda/Acura. Especially since my 1st car was a 82 Accord. I gave it to my brother at 288,000 miles and I was still running

hahhaa, what? YOU were still running? :)
 
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