We've seen several concept vehicles with what Mazda calls its Nagare "flow" styling language, but the 2012 5 is the first production vehicle to use it. The Mazda 5 continues to be an uncommonly versatile vehicle, with three comfortable rows of seating despite its small size. The 5 seats six people and offers enough legroom for adults to fit in the third row for short trips. The second-row captain's chairs slide and recline and can be folded flat, and the third-row seats have a fifty-fifty split so they can be tipped forward individually and folded to create a flat load area. There are plenty of interior storage binnacles, including compartments under the second-row seats. Sliding rear doors give the 5 the easy rear-seat access of a minivan and help prevent dings from overzealous door openers. A 157-hp four-cylinder is the only engine, and although it isn't overly powerful, it's lively enough to get the job done. The five-speed automatic transmission works fine, but young parents resisting the transition into adulthood might prefer the six-speed manual, as do we. It's a unique offering in a unique segment, and it helps make the 5 extraordinarily enjoyable to drive.
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