Review: 2006 Mazda 5

With its singular mix of style, flexibility, and versatility, Mazda's self-proclaimed multi-activity vehicle has the tangible attributes to please a broad range of potential owners. Despite a youthful character, the Mazda5 displays design maturity and value orientation that makes it a logical consideration for everyone from current Mazda3 owners to potential Scion xB or Chrysler PT Cruiser buyers seeking to make a step up in space. Given today's perpetually rising gasoline prices, impressive EPA numbers -- 22/27 mpg with a manual and 21/26 mpg with an automatic -- should bolster its appeal. While the Chrysler Pacifica and Mercedes-Benz R-Class offer similar 2+2+2 seating and versatility, it comes at a radically different scale and price point. Mazda has hit on an accessible price with a compelling minivan alternative, whose desirability moves in measure with gasoline prices.

Great features, outstanding versatility, super price. The real issue is whether it can break through the perceptual wall that separates a mere minivan from a cool crossover.

What's Hot

  • Exceptional versatility
  • Room for six
  • Outstanding standard feature set

    What's Not

  • Overtaxed engine
  • Automatic transmission has only four speeds
  • Glare-prone interior trim

    A micro-minivan with distinctive style and outstanding flexibility, the feature-packed and value-priced Mazda5 offers the first -- and for now, the only -- 2+2+2 seating configuration in its class.

    There are few extras for the comprehensively equipped Mazda5. Sport buyers can add Touring items like a moonroof, foglights, MP3/CD six-disc changer, and the Popular Equipment Package (CD changer, side sills, rear spoiler), while Touring owners can opt for a DVD-based navigation system. An automatic transmission, pearl paint, cargo cover/net, floormats, and wheel locks are available for both.

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