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Taking a gamble, Mazda introduced a unique vehicle that’s certainly a rarity in the soccer-mom world of vehicles.

The Mazda5 is a compact minivan that at first glance may be confused for a compact SUV. That may be a good thing for some men, who hate the thought of driving around in the traditional soccer-mom vehicle.

There’s really no competition for the Mazda5. Some might consider the odd-looking Ford Transit Connect Wagon a competitor, but it’s so much different. The Wagon is a commercial van that’s not really family-friendly and is a lot pricier than the Mazda5.


  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 157 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 21-28 mpg
  • Estimated Price: $21,240-$24,770
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years, 36,000 miles; corrosion: 5 unlimited

While we admire Mazda’s creativity in creating something different, in this case different isn’t necessarily better. There are problems with the Mazda5, starting with its six-passenger capacity as opposed to eight for typical minivans. The Mazda5 does have third-row seating, but it’s totally for kids; no adult or average-size teen is fitting into that slim third row.

Another downside to the Mazda5, which shares a platform with Mazda3 and Mazda6, is it has just one available engine – a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that produces 157-horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. Note that the Mazda5 mileage (21-28 mpg) is better than most minivans.

When this Mazda5 is loaded with six occupants, there’s a noticeable lack of power, which isn’t the case in most minivans because they are typically a V6. The Mazda5 goes 0- 60 mph in a tepid 9.5 seconds. That’s slower than any of the V6-powered minivan. The Mazda5 also didn’t fare well on safety test scores, which is another mark against it.

There are positive aspects that could sway the minds of some minivan shoppers. The six-seat aspect is fine for smaller families and the Mazda5 is easy to maneuver and park, handles very well, and provides good overall storage and cargo space. The third row provides easy access and the sliding rear doors are lightweight.

Seating in the Mazda5’s first two rows is relatively good in terms of comfort and roominess. Up front, the dashboard is fairly modern and control buttons are within reach and user-friendly. The second row has captain’s chairs that both slide and recline. There’s also a fold-out center table. The cargo volume increases to a sizable 44.4 cubic feet when the third row seats are down.

The Mazda5 ride is solid overall, providing a somewhat sporty feel for a minivan. It also absorbs bumps well and offers a quiet ride.

This is definitely a niche buy. The Mazda5 has its drawbacks and is definitely not for everyone. However, it might be a good choice for a modest family that wants the versatility of a minivan but doesn’t need to accommodate eight people.

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