By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
There's nothing else quite like the Mazda5 among new cars today. The 2013 Mazda5 can best be thought of as a miniature minivan. In length it's the size of a compact sedan, yet the Mazda5 can seat up to six passengers and has dual sliding doors and a rear liftgate that allow easy access for passengers and cargo. Unlike traditional minivans, the Mazda uses a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine and has a starting price under $21,000. Then there is the Mazda5's biggest surprise: its driving dynamics. The words "minivan" and "fun to drive" usually don't mix, but the Mazda5 is an exception. What the Mazda5 lacks in size and power compared to others, it makes up for in driving manners, fuel efficiency and value.
If you need seating for six and don't want to spend a fortune, the Mazda5 is a smart – if not obvious – choice. That the Mazda5 is fun to drive and costs thousands less than minivans such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are further incentives.
If you need to seat more than six passengers and have room leftover for cargo or require the ability to tow a trailer, you'll need to step up to a larger minivan or a 3-row crossover SUV. Traditional minivans also offer more creature comforts such as built-in navigation systems and power-operated sliding doors.
2013 Mazda5 models receive mirror-mounted LED turn signals, a USB audio input, rear backup sensors in Touring and Grand Touring models, and new exterior color choices. The available 6-disc CD changer says goodbye. Models with the automatic transmission gain one mpg in city fuel economy to reach a rating of 22 mpg.
Driving Impressions Consider the Mazda5's road manners icing on the automotive cake. While we doubt any driving enthusiast's first choice of vehicle would be a minivan, this people mover feels more nimble...than its larger, heavier rivals. Off-the-line acceleration is not the Mazda5's strength, but it redeems itself with its ability to hug corners and transmit road feel without compromising overall comfort. Among the 2013 Mazda5's pragmatic highlights is its ease in parking lots. At nearly the same length – actually a smidge shorter – as the Mazda3 compact sedan on which it's based, the Mazda5 is a snap to maneuver. Outward visibility is excellent, the seats are comfortable, and dash controls are laid out well. If you happen to be among the "save the manuals" crowd of shrinking buyers who actually enjoy shifting for themselves, the Mazda5 is your sole choice among minivans offering a manual transmission.
For its small exterior, the Mazda5's innards can hold a lot. With the 3rd-row seats folded flat, there is 44.4 cubic feet of space, perfect for hauling sports gear or the family pet. Built-in storage cubbies make further use of space.
Whether in base or buffed-up form, the 2013 Mazda5 offers a lot for the money. Prices range from under $21,000 to just over $25,000 before options.
The Mazda5's interior is best described in one word: functional. With room for six passengers, fold-flat second and third rows, and convenient storage areas such as under-seat cubbies in the 2nd-row captain's chairs, there's plenty of space for people and stuff. A caveat does come with that last row, though. The pair of 3rd-row seats are small and most suitable for children. The second row, on the other hand, offers plenty of individual space and commendable legroom. The leather-trimmed seats on the top-line Grand Touring model lend a nicer feel (literally), but overall, the interior amenities lag behind comparable versions of larger minivans.
Picture a minivan, and then shrink that visualization slightly. That's the Mazda5, a mini minivan. Overall, you could say the 2013 Mazda5 has a friendly profile, starting with that grin-shaped face that adorns other Mazda front ends. Swooping, wave-like swaths make for stylish sides, and even the rear door is cute by minivan standards. Mid-level Touring models are spruced up with side sill extensions and a rear spoiler, while top-line Grand Touring models are adorned with a power moonroof and xenon high-intensity discharge headlights.
A base 2013 Mazda5 Sport comes with cruise control, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, manual driver's seat with height adjustment, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD system with USB and auxiliary inputs. Touring versions add features such as backup sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, an automatic transmission, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Grand Touring models up the comfort factor with leather upholstery, a power moonroof, heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and driver's seat lumbar support. Safety features on all models include six airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
All 2013 Mazda5 models can be outfitted with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system featuring a 7-inch monitor and two wireless headsets, remote engine start, and rearview mirror with a compass and a HomeLink remote transmitter for opening garages and gates. Base Sport models can be had with an automatic transmission, which is standard on other trims. If you want a navigation system, portable Garmin units are available from the dealer, as are roof racks to carry everything from luggage to a kayak.
The 2013 Mazda5 uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. If that doesn't sound like much power, it's because it isn't. A Mazda5 loaded with passengers won't win many races, but for everyday duties, the powerplant is fine. Helping matters is the Mazda5's 5-speed automatic transmission, which is a smooth and eager shifter. The base Sport version is the only one available with a 6-speed manual transmission. All Mazda5s are front-wheel drive and can run on regular unleaded gasoline.
2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder
157 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
163 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (automatic), 21/28 mpg (manual)
A 2013 Mazda5 Sport has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $20,735. Adding an automatic transmission to that base version is an additional $1,000. Even at the top end, the Mazda5 offers a lot for the money. Load up a Mazda5 Grand Touring model, and you're still looking at a price of around $26,000. Larger minivans (yes, that sounds like an oxymoron) start at thousands of dollars more than the Mazda5. A 2013 Honda Odyssey, for example, starts at over $29,000, and the Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna both start around $27,000. About the only thing close to the Mazda5 in price is the Dodge Grand Caravan, which also begins just shy of $21,000. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Mazda5. Down the road, the Mazda5's resale value is predicted to be about average.
By Ian (TX) on Monday, November 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "love the rear sliding doors, drives nicely"
Cons: "no rear heat, no cargo space when all 6 seats used"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I have 3 kids, 16, 13 and 2. The back row seating is difficult (but not impossible) for anyone older than 10 or so to get to. I'm 5'2", average sized, and it was not comfortable to get back there at all. Once I was back there it wasn't bad LOL! The cargo area when all seats are occupied is extremely small. We could not take anything more than overnight trips as a family; there's not enough room for suitcases and bags. Once you fold down the back seats, the cargo area is nice, though a little irritating if something slips between the bucket seats onto the floor. I do LOVE the sliding back doors. Makes getting the 2 year old in and out of the car much easier! The driver's seat is comfortable, but I personally don't like the headrest. I felt like it was pushing my head and neck into an unnatural and uncomfortable position. That problem solved by turning the headrest around. It looks silly, but it works. I don't care for the armrests in the front. They get in the way if you need access to drinks in the cup holders, so I never use my armrest. Add another adult to the front seat, and it's very awkward to get to your drinks. I'm not crazy about the center storage between the seats - it barely holds a couple CDs and a sewing kit. The radio and 6 disc CD changer are nice - the sound took some getting used to. I never really use the Bluetooth- usually I have the kids with me and don't really like them listening in on the conversations. I like that it gives me the estimated miles left before the gas tank is empty. The AC works nicely, as well as the heater. One of my biggest complaints with it is that there is NO rear heat. It has rear air, but not heat. It takes twice as long to warm up the back of the car, and by the time they get warm, who ever is in the front seat has started cooking. Very frustrating. I have the moonroof, but rarely use it. I had to replace the front tires before 20,000 miles, and the rear tires shortly after. Overall, I wish I had shopped around a little bit before we purchased this little car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By dude (TX) on Friday, November 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage"
Cons: "Wind noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Ruined 2 tires at 23000 miles account front end was not in alignment when purchased new even thou I rotated tire every 7500 miles. Mazda dealership informed me warranty would not cover new tires or alignment; was done on my dime. Dealership informed me I should have rotated every 5000 miles even thou owner's manual states every 7500 miles. Serious wind noise at highway speeds. Serious lack of power when 6 adults are on board."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By bill (MO) on Monday, July 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "flexible, meets lot of needs."
Cons: "wish the gas miliage was slightly better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Meets our needs with third row. Easy to drive, easy to park. Not great on gas, but not bad. Very happy. No thrills, but I bought it new for great price."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Lowtonlyle (MO) on Saturday, June 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Been a good car overall. Great for two kids we did get the optional DVD system. Works well but obscures rear visibility when I'm use. Would recommend checking other aftermarket options. Ours is the 6 spd manual, makes the car feel much quicker and fun to drive, although we've had some issues with it. Dealership has already had to replace 1-2 nd gear synchro. Some concern there maybe ongoing issues hopefully Mazda will take care of us. Other than that I believe the poor snow performance is more a tire issue since the bridgestones that came on the car are awful tires replace ours after 30k because felt downright dangerous in the rain. Lots of tread left too. Great fun to drive family car. Just don't let my wife hear you call it a minivan! Oh yeah, get the windows tinted much better looking and cooler"
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By patsy (NY) on Thursday, February 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice to drive in daylight on major highways"
Cons: "Only one electrical port in front cabin."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Positive reviews: The Mazda 5 grand touring offers a lot of standard features and has plenty of power.The engine and transmission is smooth and the ability to shift it like a manual transmission is very useful if you have to descend a lot of hills. Very comfortable to drive on long trip. Negatives:Low beam headlights are terrible on country roads.You can't see 30-40 yards in front on a undulating road.The car is terrible in snow.The traction control kicks in on a hill and slow the car down to the point where you have to turn around and go back,turn the traction control off and hope you can make it. Don't buy it if you live in the country where it snows."
10 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By NEWENGLAND MOM (CT) on Wednesday, February 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE, HANDLES LIKE OUR LEXUS - CAN YOU BE"
Cons: "WISH IT HAD BUILT IN NAVIGATION"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"WE COMPLETELY LOVE OUR MAZDA 5 GRAND TOURING. IT WAS CHEAPER THAN THE OTHER MINIVANS THAT WE LOOKED AT W/ LEATHER."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful