By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/1/2011
The Mazda5 is in a class all its own. Too small to be a minivan (by today's standards), and too large to be a wagon, the 2012 Mazda5 is built on a platform that's about the size of the first 1986 Dodge minivan. For a short time the Kia Rondo was considered a competitor, and Ford had planned to market a similar vehicle called the C-Max, but both vehicles have been cut from their respective line-ups, leaving the Mazda5 as the lone "C-Wagon" (as this size class is sometimes described) in the U.S. market. Essentially a small minivan, the 2012 Mazda5 can accommodate six adults, has sliding rear doors for easy access to the second and third rows and a center aisle to aid access to the rear when children's car seats are being used in the second row. Combine all of these features with creditable driving dynamics and a starting price under $20,000, and the Mazda5 could fill a niche. It's not an obvious choice to be compared to a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Rav4 or Volvo XC70, but you might be surprised how well it would fare on the price-value continuum based on seating, versatility and overall performance.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need seating for six with easier third-row entry than an SUV and a smaller price tag than a minivan, the Mazda5 can fill your need. Starting under $20,000, the Mazda5 features sliding rear doors and a center aisle, making access to the third-row seats relatively easy.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for seating for six but also want the kinds of features offered by the Chrysler Town and Country (table and swivel seats), Toyota Sienna (reclining seats with footrests) or Honda Odyssey (rear entertainment system), then you are better off moving up to a full-sized minivan, which will also offer more cargo space behind the third row.What's Significant About This Car?
The Mazda5 gets a new look for 2012 that gives it more style than most minivans on the market but doesn't completely disguise its wagon/minivan heritage. That may turn off some buyers who might seek a more traditional wagon shape.Driving It Driving Impressions
It may seem like an oxymoron to refer to a wagon/minivan as fun to drive, but the Mazda5 offers a sportier driving experience than a minivan or other "people-hauler." Considering its size and utility, the Mazda5 is surprisingly spry on the road and hugs tight to the curves during spirited driving. It's easy to forget that you're in a minivan-type vehicle because the Mazda5 drives so much like a sedan. But, for all its athletic prowess on the road, the Mazda5 has also been refined for 2012, with a more compliant suspension that allows for a little more roll on the curves but makes the ride smoother for passengers who once got jostled around by the previous model's somewhat stiffer arrangement.Favorite Features
The Mazda5's exterior style is influenced by Mazda's Nagare design philosophy that has appeared in the company's line-up for the last few years. Notably, the side body panels feature striking molded swoops that give the Mazda5 a definitive style that turns heads in the parking lot and on the road.
Nooks and Cubbies
The Mazda5 features many inventive places to stow items. The second-row bucket-seat bottoms can be lifted up to reveal storage boxes for safely stashing valuables out of view of prying eyes. There is also a surprisingly large and deep glovebox with a molded ledge above that can hold electronic devices, and a convenient cubby just above the power and auxiliary outlets is the perfect size for a cell phone or MP3 player.