The Mazda5 is a compact minivan based off the sporty Mazda3 architecture. Unlike many modern full-size family vans, the Mazda5 lives up to its minivan billing with compact dimensions, a small but versatile interior and nimble driving dynamics.
Redesigned for the previous model year, the latest Mazda5 features Mazda's polarizing grinning grille along with unusual, swoopy surface detailing that helps dress up the flanks. Inside, there's a revised interior with a simple dashboard, intuitive controls and oversized instruments that signal this minivan isn't just about people carrying.
With just 157 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 163 lb-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the Mazda5 isn't going to win many drag races. However, its enthusiast focus is revealed by the six-speed manual transmission that comes standard on entry-level models - that's right, a minivan with a stickshift.
This sporty gearbox suits the Mazda5's character perfectly - overall, the minivan is quick on its feet, with precise, communicative steering that helps the it feel not like a lumbering people-mover but like a well-sorted sedan.
Those looking for extra convenience can opt for a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 21/28 city/highway mpg for the stick, while subtle revisions for the latest model year help the auto pick up a single mpg in the city cycle for a 22/28 mpg ratings.
The Mazda5's flexible interior takes convenience and versatility to the next level, with configurations for two, three, four, five or six passengers, plus varying degrees of capacity for cargo.
The third row seats are split 50/50 and can be tipped forward individually and folded flat to create a flat load area, ideal for carrying larger items. With the rear-most seats folded flat, carrying capacity is 44.4 cubic feet. In situations when six-passenger capability is needed, better hope those passengers don't want to bring much luggage with them - a scant 5.6 cubes are available behinde the third-row seat.
Interior storage space includes an illuminated glovebox and half-liter bottle holders in each front door pocket. Additionally, under-seat storage in the second row seats can be accessed by folding the cushions forwards. The right-middle seat also offers a tilt-out basket.
Fuel economy comes in at 21 city, 28 highway miles per gallon, regardless of transmission choice.
Trim Level Breakdown
Three trim packages are available, beginning with the entry-level Sport configuration. It includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, power accessories, cruise control and a six-speaker CD player.
The Touring trim level adds a five-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a trip computer. A moonroof, a six-CD changer Sirius satellite radio are available as options for this trim.
Topping the lineup is the Grand Touring trim level, which adds the aforementioned moonroof and CD changer, as well as HID headlamps, heated leather seats and rain-sensing wipers.
Following in the footsteps (tread marks?) of the previous generation Mazda5, the new Mazda5 further raises that safety level while never asking customers pay more money for more safety as all safety features are provided on all trim levels at no additional cost.
All Mazda5s include: anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Traction Control System (TCS), Electric Hydraulic Power Assist (EHPAS) steering system, "Triple H" body construction, side-impact door beams, crushable brake and accelerator pedal assembly, advanced dual front air bags, front seat side air bags, three-row side air curtains, engine immobilizer anti-theft system, second row LATCH child safety seat anchors and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Due to its small size, the Mazda5 really doesn't have any direct competitors. The other "minivans" on the market are much larger vehicles like the Honda Odyssey and Dodge Grand Caravan. Buyers could conceivably cross-shop compact crossovers like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, which offer more butch styling but less interior space.