The basic design of the Mazda5 cabin is hard to fault in any way; Mazda has managed to fit seating for six—three usable rows—in a vehicle that’s shorter than a typical mid-size sedan.
While front seats are a little too skimpy and flat—even compared to those in the Mazda3, it seems—the buckets in the second row of the Mazda5 have enough space for adults to be comfortable—or for kids to have their own individual seat. The third-row split bench is hard to get to—and adults will find their knees positioned toward their chins—but it works in a pinch, or more often for smaller kids.
The 5’s cargo-and-versatility trumph is its easy-folding third-row seat. With a simple pull of a strap, the third row seatback flips forward to a flat cargo floor. Then, for even more space, in two steps, you can flip the second row forward to almost align with the other portion—forming a mostly flat, huge cargo space without requiring much muscle or any removal of seats.
Throughout the Mazda5's interior materials can be a letdown if you're expecting a premium feel; otherwise, they're fine considering the price range. An available perforated leather upholstery with contrasting piping looks great from a distance, but up close it feels a little slippery and overtreated; we think most Mazda5 buyers will be happy with the base cloth, which feels durable and looks ready to take on repeated deep cleans from toddlers’ spills.
Up close, the drab, hard-and-hollow plastic trim for the dash and door panels is disappointing even considering the price, and there's a lot of road noise on some surfaces. Otherwise, ride quality is surprisingly absorbent and comfortable, given the suspension’s taut, responsive tuning.
Overall, too, the Mazda5 is user-friendly in a way that doesn't allow on complicated power controls, running boards, and such. You can easily open or close the non-power sliding doors with your thumb and forefinger; the hatch is easily closed and at arm's height for even shorter moms; and second- and third-row seats fold forward without a lot of straining or reaching.