2006 Mazda5 Review

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MAZDA 5 for 2006
A pleasant surprise

SEE ALSO: New Car Buying Guide for Mazda

By Steve Purdy
The Detroit AutoChannel office

This week’s tester was a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t even know there was a Mazda 5. Of course, the classic Mazda MX5, better known as the Miata, first occurred to me, but these are just cousins, not siblings. Both are Mazdas, the latter a more capable little sports car, the former a charming little compact van. Mazda calls it an MAV or a multi-activity vehicle. Built from the world-class Mazda 3 platform, also shared with the Ford Focus, this sassy little van is attractive in many ways.

Who is it for? Well, having lived with it for a bit, I would say it’s for the young, the old, and a lot of middlemen. The sporty and modern style will certainly appeal to young people while the utility and remarkably easy entry and exit will appeal to retirees. The compact size, good mileage and 6-passenger format could appeal to anyone. The smooth sliding rear doors that open and close easily, I think, will appeal to all of the above categories of potential customers.

One of my favorite aspects of the Mazda 5 is the driving position. It’s an easy step right into the spacious driver’s seat. Not high. Step down. No constraints. The standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel adjusts in either direction with more reach than most. Stretched to the end and most of the time it fits me perfectly. Sitting for the most part upright in the driver’s cloth bucket seat, the steering wheel and other controls felt perfectly natural. The dash mounted shifter is within easy reach and the steering wheel audio and cruise controls are well thought out. The materials, while not luxurious, are of good quality, well designed and well put together.

Powered by a 2.3-liter, 16-valve, twin overhead cam inline-four, the Mazda 5 was very fast. Variable valve timing and variable induction keep it efficient and dual balance shafts keep it smooth. It comes standard with a 5-speed manual gearbox, but our test vehicle was equipped with the 4-speed automatic with manual mode. The changes to manual mode were quiet at best. I wouldn’t necessarily use it for a sportier feel rather to keep the revs high for better performance. The 157 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque was enough for most purposes, but it wears out quickly if we don’t keep the revs going. A turbo on this engine might be nice. The EPA estimates about 22 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway for the manual transmission and only 1 mpg less at each end for the automatic. With a 15.9 gallon fuel tank, the cruising range is admirable.

Standard four-wheel disc brakes and ABS, along with electronic brake-force distribution and quick rack-and-pinion steering ensure confidence. We haven’t tested it rigorously enough to assess these features. All Mazda 5s come with 17-inch P205 / 50 all-season tires on 5-spoke alloy wheels.

The monocoque is reinforced with three H-shaped structural components, at the fire wall, B-pillar and C-pillar, for rigidity and impact resistance. Designed for global appeal, the Mazda 5 is engineered to meet stringent European standards for third-row seat protection. Six airbags protect the driver and passengers.

Plenty of storage and a versatile seating plan characterize the interior of the Mazda 5. Numerous cup holders and lockers as well as stowage and storage areas add to its practicality for families or just for all that we need. all love to have it with us when we are out. The 50/50 third row seats fold up with a pull on a strap, then snap back into place easily.

The base Mazda 5 Sport starts at $ 17,995, the slightly better-equipped Touring trim starts at $ 19,510. The only extras included in the Touring trim are fog lights, body-color exterior mirrors, rear spoiler, rocker panel extensions, automatic air conditioning and an in-dash 6-CD changer with 6-high audio system. -speakers.

Mazda has come back in the last four or five years from virtual oblivion. They no longer make the big sedan called Millenia. The last generation 626 was less than competitive in the market. And the wonderful RX7 died of old age. Now we have the flashy Mazda 6, the new Mazda 3, a redesigned MX5, and this year at the Detroit auto show, an award-winning concept sports car that may hint at a new RX7. Mazda is back as a serious competitor.

Take a look at the Mazda 5 and you will see why.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions

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