2006 Mazda Mazda5 Sport 4dr Minivan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I believe this is a great vehicle for young families. The third row seats are essentially jump seats for kids. You can cram people back there for very short drives only. Very easy to drive, but be warned the seats are very firm (Mazda explains this as being "sport seats" - decide for yourself). The driver's seat now has multiple squeaks within the seat, starting to drive me crazy. I get 24-25 miles per gallon, with a mix of city/highway driving which I think is poor for a 2.3L 4 cylinder with an automatic transmission. Perhaps a bigger engine or 5 speed automatic transmission would help. Shame on Mazda for not properly advertising this vehicle - could probably double sales.
Flexibilty of a van with sporty good looks, which is why I bought it. Clever storage under 2nd row seats. Good sound system. Intuitive and well-placed interior controls.
For the money, it's tough to beat. Improvements would include larger engine, better gas mileage, more comfortable seats, more 3rd row seat room. But if you made if bigger/faster/plusher it would 1) be more expensive 2)be like a Quest, Siena or Odyssey (but better looking!)
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