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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
responsive with [either] transmission
The automatic transmission's shifts are smooth, and it features a clutchless-manual mode
Nimble handling and excellent maneuverability distinguish the 2009 Mazda5 from other SUV and minivan possibilities on the road, but it's hindered by a 153-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
The 2009 Mazda Mazda5 is peppy with one or two passengers, but with six passengers, it's downright slow. 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 claim it "can sound buzzy at higher rpm," but contradict themselves when they declare the engine is "strong enough for its purposes" and, later, "it wouldn't be hard for the...Mazda5 to be underpowered." As Kelley Blue Book attests, "the lack of V-6 power limits the appeal."
Originally designed for narrow European lanes, the Mazda5's compact dimensions "make maneuvering through traffic a snap and parking a much friendlier proposition," says Edmunds. The 2009 Mazda5 is 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 2009 Touring and Grand Touring trims have as standard a 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. The auto transmission's shifts are "smooth," comments Cars.com, "and it features a clutchless-manual mode" for those drivers who only occasionally want to shift for themselves. Car and Driver claims "just five percent [of buyers] opt to shift for themselves" but feels "the auto tranny preserves enough of the fun quotient for most drivers."
The underpowered engine reflects the 2009 Mazda5's middling fuel economy: Manual-equipped Mazda5s achieve an EPA-rated 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, while automatic-equipped units go 1 mpg less. ConsumerGuide "achieved 21.4 mpg," observing that "the 5 uses regular-grade gas." Mother Proof also tested an automatic, reporting, "The Mazda5 got about 20 mpg in [a] hilly neighborhood." With the Mazda5's lack of power, drivers have to flog the engine and fuel economy suffers. As Edmunds observes, "the four-cylinder engine doesn't have enough oomph to handle heavier loads or passing at highway speeds."
Unchanged since its introduction, the 2009 Mazda Mazda5 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 garner 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." Edmunds notes: "When it comes to handling, the 5 is a snap to park and feels agile during low-speed driving...Unfortunately, stability control is not an option, an omission that became glaring to us during track testing... our test driver was surprised by the 5's proclivity to get sideways in the slalom."
All models are equipped with ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist that, says Motor Trend, "keep brake force balanced front and rear and boost braking power in emergency stops."
If not for its engine, the 2009 Mazda5 would be nearly perfect.