The Mazda 5 is a new model. A cross between a compact wagon and a minivan, the Mazda 5 is shorter in length than a Mazda 6 midsize sedan, yet nearly as tall as a CX-7 CUV (crossover utility vehicle). It has sliding rear doors and three rows of seats like Mazda's MPV minivan and uses the same 2.3L engine as found in the Mazda 3s compact sedan.
Though the Mazda 5 is unique on American roads, the concept is not new to Europe and Japan; several manufacturers market vehicles of this type: a "one-box" minivan design on a compact platform. The idea is to lay claim to as much real estate above the wheels as is practical, while keeping the exterior dimensions as slim as possible. The advantages are in size and weight: the Mazda 5 can fit into parking spaces that a midsize sedan like the Mazda 6 would have to pass on, and its curb weight is about a half-ton less than minivans like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.
Small-car dimensions and small-car weight allow the Mazda 5 to use a small-car engine-an all-aluminum, 2.3L four-cylinder engine with 16 valves and dual overhead camshafts. Output is 157 hp at 6,500 RPM and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 RPM. EPA fuel economy estimates for the front-wheel-drive Mazda 5 are 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and 21 mpg city/26 highway with the optional 4-speed automatic.
Access to the rear two rows of seats is through doors that slide open to provide a 27.5-inch wide by 42.6-inch high opening. The separate second-row captain's seats move forward to provide access to the back row-a two-seat bench with a split back that allows either half to be folded for additional cargo space. Mazda claims that with both second- and third-row seats folded, the load floor is 63 inches long, and with all seats up there is still enough cargo space for a folded baby stroller. The Mazda 5 is sold in both Sport and Touring versions, with air conditioning, alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, CD player and power windows/locks/mirrors standard across the range.
The Mazda 5 effectively replaces the MPV as Mazda's competitor in the Midsize Van segment, where space efficiency and practicality are the traits most endearing to buyers. A somewhat crowded group, currently 15 models reside in the Midsize Van segment, including newcomer Hyundai Entourage, which will go on sale in 2006 as a 2007 model.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan was the top seller in this segment for 2005, with buyers taking 226,771 examples home. Next was the Dodge's close cousin, the Chrysler Town & Country, with 180,759 sales. Honda followed with 174,275 sales of its Odyssey. A total of 4,761 new Mazda 5s hit the road in 2005 in a partial sales year. Other high-volume competitors include the Toyota Sienna, Ford Freestar, Chevrolet Uplander, and Kia Sedona.
|Sport (M5)||5 speed manual||$17,435||157-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||22/27|
|Touring (M5)||5 speed manual||$18,950||157-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||22/27|