by Kristen Varela of MotherProof
When flipping though the pages of a parenting magazine (whose subscription I’ve been meaning to cancel since my kids are now 4 and 6 and I no longer need or want to read about great new birthing techniques every month), I became intrigued by adds for the Mazda5. What is it? A miniaturized version of a mini-van? A big sport wagon with sliding doors and room for 6? My curiosity is matched by hordes of emails from other young mothers wanting to know about it as well.
I’m a bit skeptical at first. Although I appreciate the ingenuity of a company who thinks outside the box wide enough to create a car that none can define, I have to admit that I don’t really like the way this car looks. The only thing dorkier than a minivan is a mini version of a minivan. To me, the sloping nose and wedge shape of the vehicle is, well, lame (just my personal opinion).
However, after driving the Mazda5 Touring for a week, my opinion has taken a complete 180 and I’m now forced to bite my tongue and apologize profusely for my previous (and I’ll admit, slightly rude) comments regarding the aesthetics of the car. Functionality always wins, and Mazda5 is a fantastic specimen of functionality on a budget.
It all starts with the sliding doors. If you haven’t experienced sliding minivan-esque doors, you certainly should before this lifetime expires. The ones on the Mazda5 manually open to expose a 27.5 inch wide by 42.6 inch tall opening for easy access to both the second and third rows. They’re easy for children to operate on their own (if you want them to). They’re more efficient in tight parking spaces, taking up much less space than traditional hinged doors that inevitably trap passengers on one side or the other when trying to enter the vehicle. The one downside to the Mazda5’s sliding doors is that the mechanics of the sliding hinge on the bottom of the door are exposed, and during my test drive tended to trap my daughter’s pant leg in the hinge when trying to enter the car, causing her leg to get stuck and pinched in the door. No harm done, she wasn’t hurt, but it’s a point to be mentioned.
The seating configuration in the Mazda5 is 2 in the first row, 2 in the second row (both with LATCH anchors and tethers) and 2 more in the third row. The seats in the second row sport under-seat storage bins. The space between these two second row captains chairs can be left open as an alley to the third row, or more aptly utilized with the fold up cargo net (action figure ropes course), cup holders (deadly crocodile-laden pools for said action figures) and/or pop on tray (picnic table for dinner on the go). The seats slide front and back to create additional leg room when needed, tip forward for access to the third row, recline, and also fold flat in one step. The third row splits 50/50 and can be folded in one step to create an infinite number of seating and cargo storage configurations. Bravo, Bravo!
Driving the Mazda5 is equally a pleasure. Expecting a floaty ride like
I experience in most minivans, I’m pleasantly surprised by the nimble
agility of the Mazda5. With none of the tilt and sway that goes along
with cornering a taller vehicle, the Mazda5 drives more like a sport
wagon. With a turning radius of just 34.8 feet, this vehicle can handle
tight U-turns quickly before anyone can catch me turning where I’m not
supposed to – theoretically speaking.
Also sporting plenty of standard safety features such as front, side and curtain airbags for all three rows, “crushable” brake and accelerator pedals as well as convenience features such as remote keyless entry and steering wheel mounted audio controls, all for dirt cheap, the Mazda5 is the perfect blend of functionality on a budget. The Mazda5 Sport model starts at $17,695, the Touring version at $19,150, and the Grand Touring at $21,300. Maybe now you can afford to have that third baby after all (and the necessary new car to transport it) and still afford to marry them all off in the end (there is a light at the end of the tunnel, isn’t there?).
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair – Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair – Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair – Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
Base Price: 20,050
Price as Tested: 21,040
Engine: 2.3 Liter, 4 Cylinder, 153 hp
Fuel Economy: 21/26 mpg
Step In Height: 5.5” ground clearance
Turning Diameter: 34.8 ft
Cargo Space: 44.4 cu ft
NHTSA Crash Test Ratings (up to 5 stars)
Driver’s Side: not rated
Passenger’s Side: not rated
Front Occupant: not rated
Rear Occupant: not rated
Rollover Resistance: not rated
©2006 Mother Proof™, LLC - All Rights Reserved. The full archive of Mother Proof™ reviews is available at www.MotherProof.com.