What's New for 2010
The 2010 Mazda 5 gains stability and traction control as standard equipment.
Throughout 2009, families across America re-evaluated their automotive wants and needs. While "bigger and better" used to be the norm, many people started considering smaller and less expensive vehicles. Should you be one of these families and happen to be looking at minivans in 2010, we suggest taking a look at the 2010 Mazda 5. This mini-minivan of sorts doesn't offer the cavernous space normally expected of such vehicles, but the Mazda 5's lower price, increased maneuverability and better fuel economy are all welcome gains.
Under the 5's skin lies a lot of DNA from the Mazda 3, a class-leading compact sedan that sets itself apart with sharp handling and a solid European-like ride. This sporting heritage gives the otherwise utilitarian 5 a more athletic nature than anything else that shoulders the descriptor "van." This, in addition to the relatively sleek styling, should dilute some of the uncool stigma attached to a traditional minivan.
The Mazda 5 could be an alternative to another type of vehicle: the compact crossover. In tight parking lots, the 5's sliding rear doors make getting kids in and out of the backseat drama-free. The presence of a third row is another obvious advantage since only a handful of crossovers have one. Handling and on-road confidence is also better with the 5, especially with the addition of standard stability control for 2010.
There are, of course, drawbacks to the Mazda 5's smaller size. Notably, the small third-row seat is suitable only for children, and that's only if you scoot up the sliding second-row captain's chairs. The Mazda 5 also seats a maximum of six, one less than regular minivans. It's therefore best to think of the 5 as a good car for small, young families who occasionally need just a pinch of extra room. If, however, you need room for three kids, Aunt Doris, a kayak and a week's worth of stuff for a road trip to Dollywood, you probably should stick with a full-size minivan.
Of course, there are other vehicles to consider. The Kia Rondo is close to the Mazda 5 in design and concept, though it has traditional rear doors. The Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona are strong minivan contenders, while the Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4 are affordable crossover SUVs with available third-row seats. Yet the 2010 Mazda 5 is definitely worth a look for small families with an open mind to buying something a little different in these lean budgetary times.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Mazda 5 is a six-passenger small minivan available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat height adjustment, and a six-speaker stereo with auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel controls. The Touring trim adds foglights, a sunroof, a roof spoiler, LED taillights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-CD changer (optional on automatic-equipped Sport models). The Grand Touring adds automatic xenon headlights, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats and Bluetooth.
Satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rear entertainment system are optional on all models. The Grand Touring can also be equipped with a touchscreen navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Mazda 5 is available with only one engine: a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that produces 153 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard on the Touring and Grand Touring but optional on the Sport, which has a five-speed manual standard. In performance testing, a Mazda 5 Grand Touring went from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds, which is a bit slower than most minivans and compact crossovers. Fuel economy for the automatic-equipped 5 is 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the 5 received a perfect five stars for front and front-side crash protection. It got four stars for side-rear protection. In Edmunds brake testing, the 5 Grand Touring came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet -- a good distance among vans and crossovers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Some might find sliding rear doors to be the epitome of minivan uncoolness, but there's no denying their utility. Plus, you'll never have to worry about the kids flinging the doors open into the innocent sheet metal of a neighboring vehicle. Once inside, you'll find that the sliding second-row seats are a tad short on legroom, but they can definitely accommodate small-to-average-height teens and adults. The third row is really just for children who don't require child safety seats.
Six-foot-plus drivers will also find space a tad pinched, even if driver seat comfort and steering-wheel adjustment are commendable. The driving position is far more carlike than in traditional minivans, though. Families with a child who still requires a car seat will find it easy to install in the second-row captain's chairs, but Mazda loses points for not offering a center seating position for maximum safety. With the third-row seat folded flat, 44.4 cubic feet of luggage space are available.
The 5's interior materials are acceptable, and the controls are easy to reach and pretty simple in design. We'd skip the optional navigation system, though, as its graphics are a bit behind the times and its controls can be convoluted.
The 2010 Mazda 5's four-cylinder engine is adequately powerful with a driver and youngster aboard, but when fully loaded, the 5 can start to wheeze. However, the 5 exhibits a nimble nature that will have it running tight little circles around conventional minivans. The sharp, communicative steering is particularly impressive. However, the 5 is still a tallish vehicle, and it certainly feels more top-heavy and tippy than the compact sedan on which it's based.