The math is not complicated — Mazda has sold 147,000 MAZDA5s since debuting in 2005 as 2006 models. The smaller minivan/wagon can achieve 445.2 highway miles on one tank of petro. It incorporates three rows of multi-configurable seats to fit six, with at least two needing to be small children. With a new 2.5-liter I-4 MZR engine we were able to reach 60 mph before 6,000 rpm in second gear with the 5-speed automatic transmission. Up to seven Bluetooth devices can be paired with the vehicle simultaneously. I know, it only holds six. Maybe the youngest kid wants to pair her doll’s phone!
Now in its third generation, the 2012 MAZDA5 feeds off the will of larger minivans and is embedded with a percentage of grace and performance that Mazda’s sports cars live by. What do they call it? You know already: Zoom-Zoom!
On a recent drive in San Diego, California my driver partner and I set sail on roads meant for sporty vehicles. Of course Frank and I were looking at each other with a look of mischief as surely we were out of place. Yet, with the horsepower increasing by 4 to 157 and torque by 15 to 163 pound-feet, the vehicle felt like a car within a minivan. I couldn’t even notice that the MAZDA5 was front-wheel drive because it was so smooth. And Frank didn’t feel jolted because he flowed with the movement of the vehicle. Normally the passenger is in disarray because the vehicle is attempting uncharacteristic maneuvers, which leaves both flowing to opposite forces. Then comes the dreaded dizziness. No one wants that! Don’t get me wrong, the MAZDA5 is not a rocket, it just feels good for its size and weight.
Braking was excellent as well as Frank and I both overshot intended turns several times. This is due to ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake-Assist. EBD works along with ABS to apply the right brake pressure to the right wheel to ascertain optimal traction for optimal stopping power. Around those mountainous Cali roads, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System made sure the vehicle was going where the roads were! More safety is added with 6 airbags including side curtain bags, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Smart Accelerator Pedal System which intelligently chooses the brake over the gas pedal granted you stepped on both simultaneously.
Comparing the new vehicle to the old vehicle is like pitting Apple against Dell. Apples are just far too stylish and cater to consumers artistic and performance side. Even the packaging of an iPod or MacBook is over-the-top, which we like. Both the MAZDA5’s exterior and interior were redesigned to appropriately fit the demographic the Japanese company is targeting: married, between 30 & 40, educated with a $90K + household income. The exterior is slicker, has more character lines like the indented wave on the door panels, alloy rims, tailgate spoiler and horizontal rear lamps. And of course you have to get a kick out of the smiling grilles incorporated in all Mazdas. Mazda uses a particular design language called “Nagare” (flow) that normally finds itself mated to concepts. However, this is the first instance in which Nagare has moved onto a Mazda production vehicle. Nature elements such as water and wind are centralized in the vehicle’s styling to give it an expression of movement.
For Mazda the MAZDA5 is inherited from a global platform and is easy to execute. You will also find many parts of the MAZDA3 in the MAZDA5. Not fitted to a specific category, Mazda has seen shoppers looking at Toyota RAV4s to Honda CR-Vs to Honda Odysseys. Consumer Reports classifies it as a wagon. I say it’s a mini minivan and should be looked at by small families. If you have three or more kids than the MAZDA5 is not for you! Also, your kids need to be younger. No teenagers please.
The base model is a Sport and starts at $19,990. Frank and I played with a Touring and Grand Touring model with the 5-speed automatic transmissions and 17” alloys rims for most of the day. Leather, captain chairs (lay flat), cool storage spaces such as the seat tops that open up to fit small items, and Bluetooth audio keeps the little guy very relevant. I was disappointed to hear that no navigation or USB port is offered as factory equipment. Mazda says the take rate for the $2K navigation package on the previous model was less than 2%. Furthermore, they added that customers were fine with $300 Garmins and the saved cash could be used for strollers and baby equipment. There is a dealer installed iPod accessory integration kit for additional cash. I suggest sticking with the Bluetooth and bringing a car charger. You can control your device through the steering wheel just as if it were hard wired.
Versatility, great fuel economy and affordability are reasons why you would buy a MAZDA5. It is what it is and you will either like it or not. It’s solely based on family needs. Just know that it has will, and grace!