The minivan has traditionally been the typical vehicle for parents driving their children and friends around while taking all their stuff, too. The interior space of a minivan is unmatched by SUVs, with three rows of seating, sliding rear doors, and a low ride height contributing to their popularity. Still, some might not need all the space of huge minivans like the Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. Smaller families who aren't afraid of the image some have of minivans might consider the newly redesigned 2012 Mazda5.
The Mazda5 is different from many of its minivan counterparts in that it is fun to drive. The mini-minivan goes around corners in a controlled manner; some might say it feels like you're driving a regular car when behind the wheel of the Mazda5. Since it is a smaller van, the vehicle is much easier to maneuver through tight spaces and pull into compact parking spaces. While the Mazda5 lacks certain features that come on other vans like a rear-seat entertainment system with a big 16-inch screen, the Mazda5 boasts a lower price and fuel economy that almost reaches 30 mpg on the highway. If you have a young family, the six-passenger space and four-cylinder power might fit just right.
Engine: 2.5L I-4
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, 6-speed manual
Model: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring
The 2012 Mazda5 has been completely redesigned from the ground up, with much bolder styling. The addition of a small boost in power along with more comfortable seating mean the Mazda5 is now more prepared to challenge more expensive minivans and crossovers. Two seats in each of its three rows offer six seats as opposed to other minivans that offer seven or eight seats. The Mazda5 makes it simple to haul multiple passengers on occasion, yet still carry six passengers as easily as a crossover.
The front end of the new Mazda5 could double for the Mazda3, but the minivan distinguishes itself with more definitive lines sculpted onto the side doors, a surprisingly bold touch. The latest Mazda van's length has shrunk an inch, width is smaller by 0.1 inch, and the height crouches down 0.6 inch more from the previous model.
Smaller than your normal minivan, the Mazda5 still has a lot of interior versatility. The second-row captain's chairs slide and recline and the passenger-side seat features a pop-up center table and storage space that fits between the chairs. Easy access is the name of the game with the third row of seating being big enough for kids to access and the rear sliding doors create huge openings.
A new dash layout is sleeker than it was before. All of the controls are easy to reach and use, and that gives the Mazda5 more of a car feel from behind the wheel. The front seats provide some comfort, though taller people may wish for more rearward seat travel.
Performance & Handling
The Mazda5 is a nice combination of agility and urban maneuverability that is comparable to a regular car. Acceleration is a little slow but handling is the Mazda5's specialty. When navigating winding roads, defined steering keeps passengers upright with no swaying and in their seat and is ahead of the class for vans.
A 2.5L four-cylinder engine is good for 157 horsepower with 163 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the Sport while a 5-speed automatic can be found in the Sport and is standard on all other models. The Mazda5 remains the only minivan in the U.S. that offers a manual transmission.
Stability and traction control, four wheel antilock disc brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and brake assist, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags all come standard on the 2012 model. A crashable brake pedal assembly and dynamic stability control are included too. Child-safety rear door locks, LATCH child-safety-seat anchors and upper tether anchors, and 3-point seat belts for all seating positions all come standard too.
EPA Fuel Economy
Automatic: 21 city/28 hwy mpg
Manual: 21 city/28 hwy mpg
- Sharp handling
- Easy to park
You Won't Like
- Seats only six
- Fuel economy could be better
Comfortable and sporty mini-minivan.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Toyota Sienna
- Honda Odyssey