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The Minivan that Wasn't: Mazda5 Grand Touring

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One of the best little minivans I have ever driven is the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring. It is compact and sprightly enough that I did not feel like I was in a 6-seater minivan, yet with the third seating row put down its cargo area was large enough to fit all our family gear, including skis, boots, poles, puffy coats and everything we needed for a mountain vacation.

Priced at $22,270 for the basics, or $26,125 fully loaded, with a fuel-efficient 2.5L engine that gets 22-28 mpg, it’s a great economy family car. The interior feels a little stripped down, but other features help make up for it, like the safety-first rear back up sensors, dual front and side–impact airbags and fast–inflating air curtains to protect all three rows of passengers, dynamic stability control and traction control to prevent wheelspin and increase traction during hard braking, acceleration and cornering, and available Xenon headlights and halogen fog lights for better vision for driving at night or in inclement weather.

The standard tech package is a bit skimpy, though it does include Bluetooth hands-free phone and MP3 player input. Upgrades that I feel are essential for family trips included the overhead DVD entertainment system and Sirius XM satellite radio. For the serious traveling family, the auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink is also a nice comfort. If you want to get really fancy, other options include the remote engine start option, moon roof and premium audio system, a rear spoiler and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Overall, a great car, ahem, minivan for the money.

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