By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Mazda MAZDA5 is an interesting offering. Built from the same chassis that spawned the smash-hit MAZDA3, the MAZDA5 looks like a cross between a compact hatchback and a midsize minivan. Offering sliding side doors and three-row seating, the MAZDA5 can certainly swallow its share of people and cargo, and its willing suspension is truly delightful. If the MAZDA5 has a weak point it's that the standard 2.3-liter engine lacks enough muscle to give this family-friendly vehicle the "Zoom-Zoom" attitude found in the CX-7 and CX-9 crossover utility vehicles. Still, for those who travel mostly in urban settings and don't require the ability to tow a trailer, the MAZDA5 makes an excellent alternative to a cramped compact wagon or heavy SUV.You'll Like This Car If...
Seeking good fuel economy, passenger space for six and a serious amount of versatility? If you answered yes to those queries then the 2008 Mazda MAZDA5, which also boasts a very palatable price, could well appeal to you.You May Not Like This Car If...
The MAZDA5 and vehicles like it are hot sellers in other countries, but American buyers have usually had only lukewarm interest in such vehicles. Maybe the mini-minivan look or the lack of V6 power limits the appeal here, but the MAZDA5 has a great deal to offer, even to those who are skeptical at first.What's New for 2008
The 2008 MAZDA5 gets a slight face lift featuring a new grille, headlight and taillight design. A revised dash includes a new center console, electroluminescent gauges and second-row fan-speed controls. A new five-speed automatic becomes standard on Touring and Grand Touring trims.Driving It Driving Impressions
Mazda says it likes to build "Zoom-Zoom" into every car it drives, but we wish the MAZDA5 had just a little more under the hood. The 153-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that feels so good in the MAZDA3 could do with a slight power infusion in the MAZDA5. With two testers aboard, the car was reasonably peppy, but we figure that a MAZDA5 with six passengers might work pretty hard going uphill. As to the driving dynamics, the MAZDA5 exhibits the good road manners that characterize Mazda vehicles. Ride is controlled but not harsh and, though the steering might be a bit over-assisted, it is reasonably direct. This is no sports car, but it handles much better than a minivan or SUV.Favorite Features
In days of yore, American cars seated six passengers on two three-person benches. The MAZDA5 gives each of the six individuals his or her own seat with theater-style elevation for each row.
Foldout Second-Row Console
A console emerges from under the second-row passenger seat and contains cupholders for both middle-row passengers and an ingenious net catch-all for odds and ends.
The 2008 Mazda MAZDA5 features six individual seats placed in three rows of two. Each of the four rear seats folds out of the way individually, so the MAZDA5 can accommodate anywhere from one to six occupants and a number of combinations of occupants and gear. The driver's-side seat in the second row offers an under-cushion storage bin, while that on the passenger's side has a clever fold-out cupholder with a storage compartment made of netting. The driver has a commanding outlook over a logically designed instrument panel. The shift lever protrudes from the center stack and above it are easy-to-use controls for the sound system and heating and ventilating functions. Finally, the MAZDA5 offers a remarkable 142 cubic feet of interior space in an easy-to-handle package.Exterior
Mazda made a very definite effort to clone the Mazda family look in its MAZDA5. Looking straight at its new nose, you see a strong grille and obvious Mazda touches like the flying M badge. At the rear the Mazda heritage is less obvious, though the taillights have an upscale clear-lens look and the tailgate exhibits Mazda's engineering skills by using lightweight materials. The tailgate also stops its upward travel in two positions, one higher than the other, a boon for shorter people. On each side are a conventional swing-out front door and an extremely wide rear sliding door that operates with just one finger, but is not power actuated.Notable Standard Equipment
The Sport trim features a five-speed manual transmission, while the Touring and Grand Touring employ a new five-speed automatic. A 2.3-liter is the sole engine offering. As for amenities, the Sport trim includes an AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, power windows and locks and cruise control. The Touring trim adds front fog lamps, rear spoiler, side skirts, an AM/FM in-dash six-disc CD changer and a power moonroof. The Grand Touring adds leather seat trim, heated front seats and xenon headlamps, Bluetooth hands-free communication system, automatic headlights, heated door mirrors and rain sensing wipers. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels and a comprehensive airbag safety system, including three-row side curtain airbags, are standard on all three models.Notable Optional Equipment
Options depend upon trim levels and include a five-speed automatic transmission (Sport), pearlescent paint, power moonroof (Sport), voice-command DVD navigation system (Grand Touring), MP3/CD changer (Sport), SIRIUS Satellite Radio and a cargo net and cover.Under the Hood
The 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 16-valve dual overhead cam (DOHC) MZR-series engine has earned a positive reputation in other Mazda vehicles. Producing 153 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 148 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm, the engine is matched with an easy-shifting five-speed manual transmission or five-speed Sport-AT automatic that offers a manual shift mode.
2.3-liter in-line 4
153 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
148 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (manual), 19/24 (automatic)
The 2008 Mazda MAZDA5 Sport trim equipped with manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $19,000, while the Touring edition stickers around $21,000 and the Grand Touring for about $23,000. No matter how much equipment you add to any trim you will be hard-pressed to boost the price over $28,000. Fair Purchase Prices that represent what consumers are actually paying can differ substantially from the suggested prices, so click on the Fair Purchase Prices to compare. In terms of resale value, the MAZDA5 is about average -- better than many in its category but not as good as some Honda and Toyota models.