The Mazda 5 is getting old, but I remain a fan. This is a great vehicle for a small family that needs something bigger and more versatile than a sedan but doesn’t want the expense and bulk of a minivan or a larger crossover. With comfortable seating for six spread among three rows, a carlike driving demeanor, and great visibility through its huge windshield, it’s a very pleasant vehicle to drive. Yep, it’s only got a four-cylinder engine. Nope, you don’t need a V-6, which would only drive up the sticker price and lower the fuel economy which, at 21/27 mpg city/highway, is pretty good for a car that can haul six people, or four people and a lot of stuff.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
If only I had this rather than our Four Seasons Mazda 3 when I was moving some bulky items to my new apartment recently. The 5 drives like a compact car but looks like it could have easily swallowed my vacuum cleaner, trash can, full-length mirror, and trash bags full of clothing (boxes are overrated, as is folding). I’m also not ashamed to say I admire the 5’s unabashedly squared-off microvan shape, although this example’s metallic red paint and handsome seventeen-inch wheels certainly help its case.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The Mazda 5’s packaging is pretty much perfect for the type of small families that Joe mentions, and mine happens to be that kind of family. Loading my one-year-old daughter into the middle row–through one of the large sliding doors on either side of the car–was incredibly easy. Installing her baby seat was simple, too, since the Mazda’s middle-row bucket seats move fore and aft as much as most cars’ front seats, so I was able to find the easiest ergonomic setup for my quickly aging new-parent body. That same sliding middle row allows rear passengers to enjoy either lots of legroom or to scoot forward to give diminutive third-row passengers a bit more breathing room.
Before I installed the baby seat, I used the versatile 5’s stuff-hauling mode to transport several boxes of Christmas decorations and other items, including a tall curio cabinet.
Yet although I honestly feel that the Mazda 5 is the perfect type of vehicle for a large portion of the American population, part of me (probably the Detroit-bred, muscle-car-loving part) can’t help but think that the 5 is dorky, mostly because of its mini-minivan shape and just-adequate powertrain. I concur with David, though, when he noted that our test vehicle’s cool wheels and dark red paint job improved its appearance.
It also helps that, for what it is, the Mazda 5 handles and drives pretty well. Outward visibility, particularly for the over-the-shoulder blind-spot check, is excellent, too. However, I was a bit disappointed that the driver’s seat didn’t have much thigh support and felt too hard/flat, and I wasn’t happy to discover that the Mazda lets in a lot of wind noise, which is also an issue with our long-term Mazda 3 hatchback.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2010 Mazda5 Touring
Base price (with destination): $22,000
Price as tested: $22,480
2.3L DOHC 16V inline 4-cylinder
5-speed automatic transmission
17-in alloy wheels
Automatic climate control
Fold flat second row with under-seat storage
Options on this vehicle:
Rear bumper guard — $50
Sirius satellite radio — $430
Key options not on vehicle:
DVD entertainment system — $1200
Remote engine start — $350
Compass auto dim mirror –$275
Moonroof — $70
21 / 27 / 24 mpg
Size: 2.3L inline 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 153 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Weight: 3479 lb
17 x 6.5-in aluminum alloy wheels
205/50R17 Toyo Proxes A18 all-season tires