The minivan is not dead. At least not according to Mazda.
Their 2013 Mazda5 is a front-drive compact minivan for folks who don’t want a full-size model or need the extra space of one. And despite all the soccer mom tales, if you’ve ever had or used a minivan, you must admit, they are useful for their people and cargo hauling capacity.
Unlike full-size minivans with their length and bulky overall size, the Mazda5 is easy to park and maneuver because of its smaller size. And visually, it resembles a crossover.
The 5 comes in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels, the latter is what was tested. As such, the Grand Touring gets 17-inch Toyo tires instead of 16s on the Sport and Touring models, and while the 26x11.5-inch power moonroof is an option, it’s standard on the Grand Touring.
Power comes from a 2.5L four-cylinder that puts out a meager 157-hp and 163 lb/ft of torque that couples to a 5-speed automatic transmission. With four adults aboard, uphill jaunts and expressway intrusions are lethargic. The little four breathes hard and works hard during those missions. And with EPA mileage ratings of 22 city, 28-highway mpg, those numbers are close to what V6 engines offer in some full-size minivans. The 5 was 0-60 timed at 9.5 seconds, which is comparatively slow.
Mazda did a nice job on the Mazda5s interior with its seating for six. Semi-supportive perforated leather seats were done in charcoal grey with burgundy accent piping. The second row was similar in comfort while the third row is mainly for kids as the seats are low to the floor and, because of a sloping roofline, headroom shrinks. Third row access, however, is somewhat of a squeeze, even for tween riders.
Instrumentation is nicely situated with HVAC controls easy to use. While a GPS nav system is optional, it’s questionable where they’d put it. As is, there’s a thin LCD display inset in the dash with red digital numerals. Perhaps Mazda squeeze’s it in here. And while it lacked a rearview camera, one could be installed in a portion of the rearview mirror as on some subcompact cars.
Cargo wise and with the third two seats up there’s 14 inches of width, 44 inches of depth and 32.75 of height. Enough for a dozen or more plastic shopping bags. Fold the third row and depth extends to 39 inches or 44.4 cubic feet. Fold the second row and there’s 70 inches or 97.7 cubic feet. Cargo load height is a low 25.5 inches while step-in is a comfy 15 inches. As these numbers portray, there’s ample cargo space.
Since most if not all minivans offer power side doors, the Mazda5 does not. But the side sliding doors are easy to open. Even a five year old can do it.
As said, because of Mazda5s compact size, it parks easily in tight spots and has a relatively tight turning radius. The suspension is on the sporty side but is not overly firm. However, and unlike large vans that are more planted and heavier, the 5s suspension allows road imperfections to seep into the cabin somewhat, which makes for a bumpy ride on non-smooth surfaces. Otherwise, the ride is a compromise between sporty and sedan-like and there’s no tippy feeling on sharp turns taken at speed.
Now comes the pleasant surprise. A nicely loaded Mazda5 with keyless entry, leather, heated front seats, moonroof, Halogen fog lights, auto off headlights, Xenon headlights, side sill extensions and more, the Mazda5 carried a base price of $24,470 and a bottom line of $28,620 after adding Sirius radio, rear bumper step plate, digital compass and delivery. Now that’s an astounding price for a vehicle with this much ability and amenities. It would be nice if Mazda could add AWD to it to turn it into a quasi-crossover.
To check out a Mazda5 stop by Allentown Mazda on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.