Nimble handling and excellent maneuverability distinguish the 2008 Mazda Mazda5 from other SUV and minivan possibilities on the road, but it's hindered by a 153-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Car and Driver tested the Mazda5's 0-60 mph acceleration, clocking it at a "ho-hum 9.4 seconds." Loaded with passengers and/or cargo, "performance suffers," says Edmunds. Cars.com finds the Mazda5's engine is "smooth-revving"; they also claim it "can sound buzzy at higher rpm," but also contradict themselves when they write the engine is "strong enough for its purposes" and, later, "it wouldn't be hard for the...Mazda5 to be underpowered."
The 2008 Mazda Mazda5 is only somewhat peppy with the standard five-speed manual (a rarity among minivans). The base Sport is only available with a five-speed manual transmission that ConsumerGuide calls "slick [and] easy-shifting." The Mazda 2008 Touring and Grand Touring trims have as standard a new five-speed automatic. With the available 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. Car and Driver claims "just five percent [of buyers] opt to shift for themselves" but feels "the new auto tranny preserves enough of the fun quotient for most drivers." The auto transmission's shifts are "smooth," writes Cars.com "and it features a clutchless-manual mode" for those drivers who only occasionally want to shift for themselves.
The 2008 Mazda Mazda5's fuel economy reflects the small engine's power output. Fueleconomy.gov reports that manual-equipped Mazda5s achieve 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway, while automatic-equipped units achieve 21/27 mpg. In testing an automatic version, ConsumerGuide "achieved 21.4 mpg." They add, "the 5 uses regular-grade gas." Mother Proof also tested an automatic, reporting, "The Mazda5 got about 20 mpg in [a] hilly neighborhood."
Introduced in 2006 by Mazda, 2008’s Mazda5 still shares the suspension and underbody with the automaker's compact Mazda3. Consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a multilink rear suspension, the Mazda5's handling, steering, and ride garnered praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide gushes, "The Mazda5 is surprisingly sporty. Grip is good and body lean is modest." At 0.80 g, the Mazda5 "outgripped...full-sizers on the skidpad," finds Car and Driver. Cars.com feels the Mazda5's steering "is designed to engage the driver" and that a turn of the wheel "delivers a quick change of direction [with] a fair amount of feedback." They also assert that while the suspension is "on the firm side...it provides a tolerable ride."
All models are equipped with ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist that, says Cars.com, "stops the Mazda5 easily and pedal feel is natural, which is a plus."