Unlike most modern four-wheel designs, people movers aren’t supposed to be attractive, trendy, or offer good performance. They’re designed solely to cart kids, luggage and the family dog from A to B… and then on to C.

But try telling that to Mazda. Keeping in line with changes to the rest of its range the Japanese maker has updated its seven seat MPV people mover, adding a host of improvements that make it better to look at and drive, as well as a comfortable and versatile family hauler.

Topping the list of changes is a growth in engine size from 2.5 to 3.0-liters, which has increased the V6’s output to 152kW at 6200rpm and 271Nm at 3000rpm. The old four-speed auto transmission has also been replaced with a slicker five-speed unit.

The power gains are most noticeable on the road where the V6 offers plenty of urge off the line and on the move, and feels particularly responsive despite the extra weight demands of the heavier body. The extra cog, combined with plenty of low-down torque, ensures the MPV keeps up with peak-hour traffic and cruises comfortably on the highway.

The fresh look continues inside, where the suede-like trim and light gray plastics in our test vehicle contributed to a classy feel. Visibility is excellent from the front pews, and the rear seats, with driver and passengers sitting high on flat but cushioned seats.

Otherwise, there’s plenty of storage compartments scattered throughout the vehicle to store the odds and ends. And plenty of interior lights for those inevitable night trips.

The MPV comes with a wide range of features expected in any top-end people mover, including dual airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, dual-zone air-conditioning, trip computer, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, and remote central locking.

But it’s the versatility of the space behind the front seats where a people mover pays for itself, and there’s little to criticize in this respect.

Other family-friendly new features include middle row seats that slide further forward for better access to the rear seats, headrests that fold down for better driver visibility, and improved child seat anchorage points. To secure cargo, there’s six tie-down hooks in the rear.

The Mazda MPV is not the cheapest people mover on the market, but neither is it a no-frills family bus lacking the creature comforts and features found on other, more trendy vehicles like big 4WDs. If you have a big family, and are not planning to go off-road, the MPV makes a lot of sense.

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