At just a tick under 10 seconds to 60 mph, the Mazda 5 Grand Touring isn't painfully slow, but loaded up with a family and gear, it likely would be. The upside is a verified 24 mpg in mixed driving.
Despite a very well-tuned stability control system (now std), we found the Mazda 5 to be an above-average handler with precise steering, excellent grip and uncommon poise. Brake feel/effectiveness is better than some, but what it should be.
Mazda provided the 5 with a very good balance between good handling and a compliant ride, neither busy, nor floaty. It doesn't feel like a minivan one bit. Only the worst pavement upsets it, and only a little.
Even with the 4cyl engine working hard at our test track, the Mazda 5 rarely sounds labored or noisy. Only the coarsest road surfaces make their way into the cabin from the tires. Very low wind noise.
A very traditional/intuitive layout for the audio and HVAC systems. The LED display is a bit crowded, but easy to read once you know where particular info resides.
Visibility is excellent, perhaps best in the minivan segment, which is why a back-up camera, lane-departure warning, of blind-spot monitor are not offered.
Seat Access & Space
Front seats offer a lower, more reasonable H-point compared to larger minivans, but range of adjustment might rule out 6-foot-tall drivers. Cockpit is open and airy. Four-way adjustable 2nd row seats are very good, but 3rd row is for kids only.
Cargo & Storage
The Mazda 5 is not a large minivan so the volumetric measurements do fall short of full-size. That doesn't mean, however, that the cargo area cannot swallow a mountain bike or two. Clever/easy seat stowage for 2nd/3rd rows.
We found absolutely nothing cheap or flimsy or down-market in this budget-friendly small-minivan alternative to me-too compact crossovers. It looks, sounds and feels solid.