I would advise against dropping the pan. 1- the bolts are held on by the power of Thor. 2- there really is no serviceable filter - which kinda defeats the purpose of dropping the pan. 3- It is extremely messy.
Many many people around here would recommend you do the drain and fill method. But if your heart is set on dropping the pan I am sure you can find a post about it somewhere. Goodluck!
Fugure I'd bring this back up in case anybody else ever stumbled across it during an internet search like I did.
There is in fact a serviceable filter inside the transaxle and it can in fact become clogged and restrict flow after time. If the fluid becomes too restricted, it can cause the trans fluid temp to climb and trigger the "AT" light to come on.
Dropping the pan is not a hard task. You need to take your time and pay close attention to what you're doing. 1st and foremost, drain it via drainplug...this will cut way back on any mess. There are a lot of bolts that hold the pan on. The pan is sealed with silicone from the factory instead of a gasket. You can use a flat-blade screw driver or equivalent to pry the pan away from the trans.
Once loose, the pan will have to be twisted and turned to maneuver it clear of the frame and transaxle. Putting it back is equally as fun. There's a round magnet stuck to the inside of the pan that will be covered in a metallic sludge. It needs to be removed and cleaned. You can clean the pan however you feel is easiest. Degreaser and water works, wiping with those Scott's blue shop towels works, too.
Also remove any silicon residue from the pan lip and also the mounting flange of the transmission. The filter just pulls straight down...about a pint of fluid it gush out behind it. New filter simply pushes back in. There's a small tab with a wire that also attaches to the bottom of the filter. It is easily pulled out and pushes back into the new filter.
The filter kit I got from Advance Auto was a Trans King and it included a rubber gasket. It's personal preference whether to use it or run a bead of silicone like the factory did...however, the silicone method will be harder due to having to make contact with the trans when maneuvering the pan back into place. I chose the gasket instead.
Mine ended up holding right at 4 quarts to get the level back to the full mark on the dipstick. I used Valvoline MaxLife Multi-Vehicle full synthetic ATF to refill. It is compatible with Mazda M-V according to their website.