Why is it that being a Mom and driving a minivan can seem so uncool? Maybe, just maybe, someone should tell the big car companies that Moms can be too school for cool too. We’d love to drive something fun and stylish, but still practical enough to hold all of our gear. It seems Mazda was on a mission to resolve that situation when they created the Mazda 5 micro-van. They’re bringing sexy back to the family vehicle.
While Car and Driver called it the ultimate Dad van (and it really is – Ben took it to Vegas for a dude’s trip/bachelor party and they packed it full of manly gear…), I’d say move over guys, this fun, sporty ride is fun for the ladies too. ”We still feel justified in calling it Lord Vader’s van, though, as long as we’re speaking Dutch, in which vader simply means “father.” What we mean is that the Mazda 5 with a six-speed manual transmission is the ultimate dad van.” – Car and Driver
So what makes the Mazda 5 unique and appealing? Well its got power (157 to be exact), stylish seating and “swoopier” styling from earlier models. (yeah, I said “swoopier”) This is definitely a design that makes you want to take a second look when you see it on the road. How many times can you say you looked at a mini-van twice?
But let me get one thing straight. The Mazda 5 is not a full size mini van. It’s more the size of a station wagon or “micro-van” with seating for six, with the 3rd row up. This means its easier to maneuver in tight spaces, like those overcrowded parking garages at the shopping mall, and it fits easily in a compact parking spot. How many trips to the gas station will it require? Not as many as you think! Fuel economy is estimated at 21 mpg city/28 highway.
I liked that the second-row captain’s chairs slide and recline (can you say naptime?) – but this design does have its disadvantages. Captains chairs means no middle seat. This can be good and bad. The good is that the kids don’t have to be “touching” each other and there may be less arguments from the pip-squeaks. The bad is that there is no middle seat which means no 5th passenger (if you are actually usually your trunk space) and also no preferred seating for infant/child car seats. I’m a real stickler for having Whistler buckled into the MIDDLE of the back seat, as far away from side impact crash possibilities as possible and this is simply not an option in this vehicle.
Also, even though you technically get 6 seats with the 3rd row up, you also sacrifice having NO storage space and those seats will realistically only comfortably accommodate kids. The passenger-side seat features a nifty pop-up center table and storage space that can be fitted between the chairs perfect for a workspace or an area for the kid’s snacks (and later stowed away, creating a walk-through channel to the third row).
I loved the location of the display and that it shows you things like gas efficiency, outside temperature and time – but was disappointed there was no NAV system. I was able to enjoy my MP3 music clearly and static free with an audio jack, but was surprised in the lack of a USB port for charging. LOVED the bluetooth phone connectivity (because come on folks, you really DON’T look cool walking around or using a bluetooth headset), but be forewarned that the vehicle must be stopped in order to complete the initial setup pairing. (Thanks Mazda, for forced safety barrier :))
Luckily, Mazda will be offering are a number of dealer-installed extras that will be available later in the model year, including remote ignition, an iPod interface and a Garmin portable navigation system.
Ok, enough “mom” talk – here’s the techy spec info for those of you that want numbers.
Even with its size, its competitive against the full size minivans as it ranked #3 out of 8 minivans according to U.S. News.
What’s under the hood? The parts that make it go ZOOM-ZOOM of course. All 2012 Mazda 5 trims are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 157 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the Sport and a five-speed automatic is optional on the Sport and standard on everything else. The Mazda 5 Grand Touring went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds in Edmunds performance testing.
Smaller in size but still big on features the 5 Touring has 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler (fun and sporty), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer and Bluetooth. For the Touring, the optional Moonroof & Audio package adds a sunroof, satellite radio and a six-CD changer. Also standard on the 5 Grand Touring, a sunroof, satellite radio, six-CD changer (great for holding my tunes and my son’s) automatic xenon headlights, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, driver lumbar adjustment, heated front seats and leather upholstery.
Mazda knows safety isn’t optional and has you covered with standard safety equipment, including ABS, traction control, stability control, front and side airbags for the first row and side-curtain airbags for all three rows.
Bumper-to-Bumper 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain 5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion 5 years/unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance 3 years/36,000 miles
Thank you to Mazda for allowing me to test drive this vehicle. No compensation was received and all opinions/thoughts are my own.