2010 Mazda MAZDA5 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 1, 2009

For families looking for fuel-efficient, maneuverable, and roomy transportation—with a fun-to-drive feel—the 2010 Mazda5 is your best and only choice.

To put together an especially thorough review on the 2010 Mazda Mazda5, TheCarConnection.com's experts read a number of reviews from some of the Web’s top sources and included the most useful information from them. And to arrive at a Bottom Line assessment, TheCarConnection.com reports on the firsthand driving experience as well as the ins and outs of this mini-minivan.

Whether you see the Mazda5 as a seven-eighths-scale minivan or a compact wagon with the roof raised and sliding side doors, the Mazda5 fills a niche that no other vehicle does in the U.S. market. And this year, with demand for fuel-efficient vehicles way up, sales have surged for this unique three-row, six-seat “sport minivan.”

With its mechanical underpinnings closely related to the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback—models that TheCarConnection.com ranks high for small-car shoppers—the Mazda5 brings much of that same eager, nimble character to the driver’s seat in a way that few other SUVs or minivans do. That handling prowess is assured via MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink setup in the rear, with 17-inch wheels and tires available. Surefooted four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes provide the stopping power to match. The Mazda5 rides well, too: smoothly but firmly and without much body motion.

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The only thing that hinders the Mazda5 from being a truly cohesive sporty package is its 153-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With an empty load it’s somewhat peppy-feeling with the standard (on Sport trims) five-speed manual (a rarity among minivans) and acceptable with the available (standard on Touring and Grand touring trims) five-speed automatic. But fill up the van with six occupants—or even three or four adults and their bags, and the engine feels completely overwhelmed on the highway. Around town it does the job, but if you often road-trip with a full load, you might be disappointed.

The Mazda5’s interior is surprisingly spacious. Although the rearmost two seats are kid's stuff only, theater-style seating makes the most of those backseats, although the front seats are skimpy in size for taller or larger people and there’s no side support for when you do want to enjoy the cornering abilities. A one-touch walk-in mechanism offers easy access to the third-row seats, and both the second- and third-row seats can fold down to create a virtually flat floor for transporting large objects. The second-row seats slide fore and aft to allow more space for the third row (or more cargo space) as needed, and the liftgate actually has two detents to help out shorter users.

You certainly won’t find luxurious materials and trims in the 2010 Mazda5, but it gives the overall impression of being nicely put-together, with well-coordinated if simple surface textures. The instrument panel is straightforward, and there are no complicated interfaces to overcome. Ride quality is quite good; it’s firm overall but yields to potholes and the really rough stuff. One issue to some buyers might be road noise—the Mazda5 allows more in than the average minivan.

The 2010 Mazda5 does well in the federal government’s crash tests. Driver, front passenger, and side front impact protection score the highest: five stars. Rear side impact protection and rollover resistance score four stars. Electronic stability control, a must-have feature for virtually any vehicle and families especially, is newly standard across the model line. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are paired in the standard-features list, which also includes front side and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seating.

The 2010 Mazda Mazda5 includes a pretty impressive list of standard features in Sport or Touring trim levels, including a standard CD stereo, power windows and locks, and cruise control. An alarm system, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, automatic headlights, heated sideview mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers are included with the uplevel Grand Touring model. Options on the base models include fog lamps, a CD changer, and a power moonroof, while a DVD-based navigation system, remote engine start, Sirius Satellite Radio, and an overhead rear-seat DVD entertainment system are available on the Grand Touring.

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