My last rental review reignited one of the TTAC’s ‘third rail’ debates, that of compact vans versus their full-size brethren. For the uninitiated, this topic is only slightly less controversial than discussing the merits of Roe v. Wade on a 1970s college campus. User krhodes1 commented that when it comes to small trucks versus an equivalent priced full size, âsometimes paying more for less is worth it. I’m not quite sure I agree with that sentiment on every level, but I know someone who does when it comes to minivans: my mom.
My family owned two minivans: a 1995 Honda Odyssey and a 2002 Kia Sedona. The Odyssey stayed with us for 7 years, making trips to Florida, upstate New York, Philadelphia and in other places on the east coast while surviving a maelstrom of vomit, spilled popcorn, and the various wrecks and jetsam from childhood before the invention of the cheap laptop. digital multimedia devices. Despite being terribly malnourished and devoid of sliding doors, the Odyssey was adored by my mother, making her the only person without a New York cab medallion to express such feelings.
His love for the Odyssey (and his disdain for the Sedona) boiled down to his imprint. At 187 inches long, the Odyssey was compact enough for a minivan, easy to park on city streets and maneuver in traffic. Since it was largely designed with the Japanese market in mind, the small size and powertrain were considered adequate for Japan, and the formula certainly worked for it. But the car was decidedly not a hit in America, and the next generation Odyssey morphed into a full-size minivan with a V6 engine, sliding doors, and acres of space inside.
Small vans have never been a hit in America, but Canadians, with their denser urban areas and higher gas prices, tend to look to them. Not only do we get the Mazda5, but we also get the Kia Rondo and the Chevrolet Orlando, which are not sold in America. The Orlando is a pseudo-van in the same vein as the original Odyssey, with a low-powered 4-cylinder engine and conventional hinged doors. Like the Odyssey, it’s not that popular in Canada either. But it’s more popular than the Mazda5, although the Mazda has supposedly superior sliding doors, which minivan owners seem to favor by a significant margin.
For TTAC readers looking for a real minivan (rather than a not-so-simple minivan), the Mazda5 is about as perfect as it gets. It is even available with a manual transmission! Much like the CX-5, it is a utility vehicle that happens to be driven very well. If there was a way to blind test drive without the possibility of maiming or killing anyone, you’d swear you’re driving a Mazda3 but sitting slightly higher. The precise and properly weighted steering feels like it has been lifted straight from the rest of the Mazda lineup, the brakes were powerful and the 2.5L powertrain was as strained as one would expect. that a 157 horsepower engine feels in a 3,457 lb van. It was very slow. In other words, much like a CX-5, but without the intelligent 6-speed automatic transmission attached to the new 2.5L SKYACTIV powertrain. weight loss.
As fun as the car is to drive, even something as mundane as shopping for groceries has reminded me of the âbig truck versus small truckâ debate. A modest grocery store at Costco required folding the third row (pictured above). The third row folds up more like a traditional car seat than a van, which tends to roll over backwards and fold completely into the ground. On this particular trip it wasn’t that bad, but in the event that larger items had to be transported, it is conceivable that the lack of a trailer-style “Stow N Go” system would be a demerit instead. only a credit for this car.
Despite Canadian sales figures showing the Mazda5 to be a relatively unpopular vehicle, they are ubiquitous on the streets of Toronto, whether privately owned or in hourly rental fleets like the horribly abused Zipcar you see here. Their small size, crisp dynamics, and decent badge (Mazdas are very popular) make them well suited to this particular metropolis. But it’s also easy to see why, nationally, the Caravan is the runaway winner, overtaking the Mazda 10 to 1. The extra length that makes the Mazda easy to parallel park also means carrying two kids and two bags. hockey (don’t laugh, it’s a serious requirement here in Canada) will be a real challenge. Caravan Is have that extra space, with a V6 engine and a base price of $ 19,995. An SXT with Stow ‘N Go can be purchased for $ 21 to $ 23,000 when the discounts are factored in (Chrysler Canada officially lists the Caravan starting at $ 27,995, but that appears to be a recent change, as it has long been advertised at $ 18,995. This may be due to the massive incentives offered on the car, allowing Chrysler to effectively sell it at the same price but officially offer it at a higher price). Canadians voted with their wallets on this; the Caravan is the 4th best-selling vehicle in Canada.
Given my preference for small cars and my affinity for Mazdas, I should be inclined to favor this car. And while I love its engaging handling and familiar Mazda feel, I fully understand why Chrysler sells so many minivans every year. Few people really want to pay more for less, especially families, who have to make financial sacrifices in the name of spending money on their children. Nor is it simply a matter of âbuying cars by the poundâ. It’s hard to see where the 5 makes sense in the market, unless you’re like my mom who wouldn’t be caught off guard behind the wheel of an American minivan or someone who prioritizes the driving experience on everything else – which is just as rare in this case. segment.
TTAC arranged the hourly rental of the Mazda5 through Zipcar. Although it had driven around 22,000 miles on the odometer, the car seemed to have withstood double that. The front of the car was horribly rutted and the interior looked worn. It also smelled like wet dog.