Probably one of the most overlooked vehicles out there, the Mazda5 is a diamond in a sea of coal. With six passenger seating...and yes, the third row is better for the youngsters, but I have sat in it (with my six foot XXL frame) for over an hour long trip and didn't get cramped up. The middle row seats move forward and back thus improving legroom in the third row.
Some neat features, with the auxiliary input jack, the portable DVD player distributes well through the Mazda5's speakers. Underneath the center seats (they fold open) reveals some storage and a tray. The second and third rows lay flat allowing a lot of room quickly when needed.
Fuel economy so far has been 30 mpg on long trips throughout Missouri, and 23 city driving. The engine won't blow you away, but the transmission shifts down smoothly, which will get the Mazda5 scooting without drama. If you want, you have the option of a manual shift mode which is easy to manipulate the engine's power. A five speed manual is also available, (only on the Sport Trim) and is butter smooth with a clutch pickup that allows for easy heel to tow shifting.
The Mazda5 handles extremely well. Most other minivans, CUV's, SUV's, and such would be hard pressed to keep up with it in the twisties. Ride is firm, but not too jarring nor unpredictable. Cornering sway is minimal.
With nearly 18,000 miles in 9 months, the Mazda5 demonstrates no squeaks or rattles. The chassis seems rigid with no flexing. Seats provide good support, even on long trips. Rearview is good making backing a cinch. Turn radius is tight and parking the nimble Mazda5 is made easier due to its more slender size.
A niggle is that the brake is a bit too close to the accelerator pedal in the automatic. However, that is not the case with the five speed manual.
If people want to downsize into a vehicle with good driving dynamics, that won't break the bank, that have a young family, the Mazda5 is a must to consider. There are three trim levels, but most will find that the Sport will satisfy their needs.