Minivans may be a necessary evil for a particular stage of life, but accepting the usefulness of a family transporter doesn’t mean a life sentence for boring driving. The Mazda 5 is proof of this: it is charming in its simplicity, with the dynamics of a sedan more than that of a van. It looks and acts like a sliding door wagon, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Redesigned last year, the Mazda 5 returns with just one or two minor changes. Its compact proportions and the updated look it put forth for the 2012 model year remain intact. There are aggressive contours in its fenders and a rhythmic flow across its surfaces and folds outside the large glass and metal panels that define its single-box passenger space. Yes, it’s a minivan, but at least it struggles with monotony. The interior is more worth pinching: The controls are clutter-free, but the amount of hard, shiny plastics can be underwhelming, even in such a value-for-money vehicle.
With a structure and transmissions loaned by the Mazda 3, the Mazda 5 evokes a sporty but modest feel. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder only develops 157 horsepower; it’s not fast at all. We would choose the standard six-speed manual transmission on the base version, but even the five-speed automatic on the higher versions has manual shift control. In both cases, acceleration is adequate, thanks to well-chosen gear ratios. Gas mileage is okay, up to 28 mpg on the highway, but other larger minivans can do just as well on paper, although we’ve seen higher real-world fuel economy in the car. Mazda.
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It’s the Mazda 5’s handling that catches our eye. The athletic feel begins with top-notch steering and a well-composed ride. It is a pleasure to drive, especially when the road is twisty. It feels natural and confident, and the ride quality is comfortable and absorbent, whether you’re cruising on the freeway or taking the narrow axles of a mountain road.
In terms of size, the Mazda 5 is a 7/8 scale minivan; there aren’t a lot of frills, and there aren’t power rear hatches or power folding seats; From the driver’s seat, you might think you’re in a nimble little car, yet there are handy sliding side doors and loads of easily reconfigurable interior space. Mazda has managed to fit six seats, three usable rows, into a vehicle that is shorter than a typical midsize sedan. The front seats are a bit cramped, but the second row bucket seats provide enough room for adults to be comfortable. The third row split bench seat works in a pinch for smaller kids and folds down to create plenty of cargo capacity. The two biggest disappointments with the interior of the Mazda 5 are its dull, hard, and hollow plastic trim for the dashboard and door panels, and the seemingly ubiquitous din of road noise on some surfaces.
With the base Sport at $ 20,000, Mazda has a niche on its own, with a manual transmission van with six seats. A USB port is now standard in all areas, as are power functions and a CD player; Touring and Grand Touring models, however, benefit from Bluetooth hands-free calling and Bluetooth audio streaming. In its premium Grand Touring form, the Mazda 5 also comes with a power moonroof, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, HID xenon headlights, heated front seats, and Sirius satellite radio ( a stand-alone option too), all for around $ 25,000.
The Mazda5 hasn’t changed significantly since the 2013 model year, but in future Mazda5 drives we’ve found it to remain one of the most fun-to-drive and frugal family vehicles you’ll ever have. can get.