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In assembling this review on the 2009 Mazda Mazda5, TheCarConnection.com's automotive experts read a number of critical reviews and included the most useful information from them. Then the editors at TheCarConnection.com brought their firsthand experience with the Mazda5 to this review to make it especially insightful.
- Truly a "mini" van
- Sliding doors are an advantage in compact spaces
- Handles like a small car yet seats six
- The only minivan to offer a manual transmission
- little engine that could, if it had a turbo
- Lack of stability control is a safety handicap
- Front seats could be more supportive
- Grand Touring trim can get pricey
Take a wagon, raise the roof, and add sliding rear doors (or just make a typical U.S. minivan at seven-eighths scale), and that's the 2009 Mazda Mazda5—a vehicle not closely rivaled in the U.S. market. Slightly smaller than short-wheelbase versions of minivans, such as the Kia Sedona, it's a three-row, six-seat "sport minivan."
As it's based on the compact Mazda3 hatchback/sedan, nimble handling and excellent maneuverability distinguish the 2009 Mazda5 from other SUV and minivan possibilities on the road. That handling prowess is assured via MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink suspension in the rear, with 17-inch wheels and tires. Braking is provided by a surefooted four-wheel anti-lock disc system. The Mazda5 rides well, too—smoothly but firmly and without much body motion. But it's hindered by a 153-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is only somewhat peppy with the standard (on Sport trims) five-speed manual (a rarity among minivans). With the available (standard on Touring and Grand touring trims) five-speed automatic transmission, the engine is barely adequate with a light load and completely overwhelmed when carrying around half of your kid's soccer team. Urban dwellers will be more suited to the Mazda5 than suburban exiles.