Shopping for a new Mazda MAZDA5?
GET A FREE PRICE QUOTE
A minivan can feel like a sentence for a dull car life, especially if you're making that indelicate transition between the college years and the mortgage years and the daycare years. Drive the Mazda 5 and you'll probably agree, you don't have to let go of your soul all at once.
The Mazda 5 has a charming simplicity. It combines all the usefulness of a minivan with the nimble driving feel of a small hatchback. It's arguably a more exciting option than some of the crossovers most newly minted small families are likely to choose.
The Mazda 5 was redesigned a couple of years ago, and at that time its compact proportions and boxy fundamentals remained, yet some aggressive contouring in its fenders and a rhythmic flow to its surfaces and creases added a lot more excitement to the exterior. It is indeed a minivan, but at least it's one that's very different--even sporty--looking. With lots of shiny, hard plastic and on-a-budget trims, the interior is a little more deserving of criticism, however.Sporty yet restrained, as well as surprisingly nimble, are ways to sum the performance of the Mazda 5. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder has just 157 horsepower; it's not quick at all. We'd choose the standard six-speed manual transmission on the base version, but even the five-speed automatic on upper trims has manual shift control. In both cases acceleration is adequate, thanks to well-chosen gear ratios. With EPA ratings of up to 28 mpg highway, gas mileage is fine, although the bigger minivans do just as well and people movers like the hybrid Ford C-Max and Toyota Prius V do far better.
It's ride and handling that continue to draw our attention. The athletic feel starts with top-notch steering and a well composed ride. It's a blast to drive, especially when the road winds. It feels natural and confident, and ride quality is comfortable and absorbent whether you’re cruising on the highway or taking on the tight esses of a mountain road.
The Mazda 5 is a tall, sliding-door wagon, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Size-wise, it's a 7/8-scale minivan; there aren’t a lot of frills, and there are no power rear hatches or power folding seats; from the driver’s seat, you might think you’re in a nimble small car, yet there are convenient sliding side doors and oodles of easily reconfigurable interior space. Mazda has managed to fit seating for six—three usable rows—in a vehicle that’s shorter than a typical mid-size sedan. The front seats are a little skimpy, but the buckets in the second row have enough space for adults to be comfortable. The third-row split bench works in a pinch for smaller kids--and folds away to create big cargo-carrying capacity. The two most significant letdowns of the Mazda 5’s interior are its drab, hard-and-hollow plastic trim for the dash and door panels, and the seemingly ever-present din of road noise.
In top-of-the-line Grand Touring form, the Mazda 5 also comes with a power moonroof, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, xenon HID headlamps, heated front seats, and Sirius satellite radio (a standalone option, too), all for around $25,000. But it's the more basic Sport models that stand out to us; that's where the 2014 Mazda 5 offers loads of value and space--more than any other minivan or crossover, really. For around $20k, you get power locks, windows, and mirrors; automatic climate control; an AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary jack; a USB port; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; keyless entry; and steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls. Rear parking sensors also are standard, as well as Bluetooth with audio streaming, on mid-range Touring models.
- Responsive steering
- Handles more like a hatch than a minivan
- Excellent ride
- A six-speed manual is standard
- There's seating for six
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Short, flat front seats
- Skimpy feature list
- Bluetooth isn't standard
- Can be noisy