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Compact minivans have been popular for years in Europe and Japan, where families find them useful for dealing with narrow streets, limited parking and high fuel prices. Attempts by import-label automakers to bring these "super space wagons" to U.S. shores in the early 1990s were largely unsuccessful, however, because Americans were more interested in modern SUVs and large minivans. But once rising gas prices led some buyers to downsize from larger vehicles, Mazda decided that a truly "mini" minivan might again have a chance with U.S. consumers.
The result is the Mazda 5 compact minivan. Although it's significantly smaller than other minivans on the market, the Mazda 5 provides six-passenger capacity along with the distinctive look and sporty handling for which Mazda is known. For buyers who need affordable, relatively fuel-efficient family transportation that's particularly easy to maneuver in traffic and a snap to park, the Mazda 5 is a strong choice.
Current Mazda 5
There are three trim levels of this compact minivan: base Sport, midlevel Touring and high-line Grand Touring. The Sport includes automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories and a six-speaker stereo with a USB port. The Touring gets you foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer and Bluetooth phone/audio. The Grand Touring adds xenon headlights, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a sunroof and satellite radio. Options include a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.
For power, the Mazda 5 comes with a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine that produces 157 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sport, while a five-speed automatic is optional on the Sport and standard on the other trims.
The 5's front seats are comfortable, though taller folks may wish for more rearward seat travel. The second-row captain's chairs slide and recline, and feature a pop-up center table and storage space that can be stowed away to allow a path to the third row. The smallish third row is best suited for kids but is easier to get into than most any larger crossover's last row. The van's sliding rear doors mean easy access, particularly in parking lots. Even with the second row in use and the third row folded down, there are still 44 cubic feet of cargo capacity available.
In Edmunds testing, we've found that the Mazda 5 can occasionally feel underpowered, such as when climbing steeper grades or while carrying a full load of passengers and cargo. It has the same refined engine we've praised in the past in the Mazda 3, but it's just not powerful enough to move a heavier van around at higher speeds with much authority. Its fuel economy is also unremarkable by four-cylinder standards, though it's still better than any minivan's V6 can manage.
On the bright side, these criticisms are pretty minor. In daily use, the 5 proves comfortable, easy to drive and both more agile and easier to park than a typical minivan, which is something to consider for those who don't really need all the space of a bigger van.
Used Mazda 5 Models
The second-generation Mazda 5 debuted for 2012. Compared to the earlier Mazda 5, it sports swoopier styling, more comfortable seating and a bit more power.
The first-generation Mazda 5 was introduced for the 2006 model year and ran until 2010. This compact minivan offered sliding side doors and seating for six within a relatively small footprint. Powered by a 2.3-liter inline-4 with 153 hp, most versions were fitted with a four- or five-speed automatic, although a five-speed manual was available on lower trims.
Initial trim levels consisted of base Sport and uplevel Touring, with perks of the latter including a sunroof, automatic climate control and an upgraded MP3-compatible stereo with an in-dash CD changer. A navigation system was optional for the Touring. The following year, the range-topping Grand Touring model debuted with its many luxury niceties.
For 2008, the Mazda 5 received revised front and rear styling and a new center control panel. Electroluminescent gauges were also added that year, along with rear seat air vents and controls, additional flip-down armrests and an auxiliary audio jack. Another thing to note is that Mazda 5 models prior to 2008 featured a four-speed automatic rather than the five-speed unit, resulting in lower fuel economy. Lastly, stability control wasn't available until 2010, when it came onboard as standard equipment.
Read the most recent 2013 Mazda MAZDA5 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Mazda MAZDA5 page.