Traveling in Europe, I was taken with the compact minivan "space wagons." With our second child on the way, my wife and I were ready to give up her Saturn SL2 and get into something w/ easier access to car seats. She was also anxious to get that higher vantage point a minivan or SUV driver seat could offer. So we picked up a 2007 Mazda5 Sport automatic. What went into our decision to purchase the Mazda5 was (in order of importance) the exterior styling, the sliding rear doors (great for tight parking spots), Mazda's superb fit and finish (both interior and exterior), ride (quiet, responsive, comfortable). Price. Small outside, big inside.
Our base model 5 doesn't have tons of features (which is how we wanted it), but we like the dual sliding rear doors (effortlessly open and close), optional third row (effortless set up or hide away, and we can seat up to six comfortably), and the rear lift gate. Sight lines are fantastic.
Mileage could be better. Arm rests on all the passenger seats. Way for driver to turn on all the interior lights at once, front/back (when you have children this is nice). I would disagree with the complaints about the 5 being underpowered, but then we're not lead foots hauling tons of stuff.