Making its first-ever appearance in full U.S. spec at the LA Auto Show, the 2012 Mazda MAZDA5 reflects an impressive evolution of the automaker's compact multi-activity vehicle. Beneath that evocatively styled bodywork and upgraded cabin is a series of focused mechanical upgrades that significantly enhance its already solid driving dynamics.

>See more new cars unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

The 2012 MAZDA5 is the first Mazda to directly embody the automaker's Nagare "flow" design language. While the dramatic side sculpting is the most obvious change, the new corporate front-end treatment, a more prominent greenhouse with glass-covered D-pillars and the use of more modern-looking horizontal taillamps add a new level of well-integrated sophistication and style to the package. Inside, the Mazda5's extremely flexible 2+2+2 cabin configuration also receives a healthy dose of Nagare sensibility which can be seen in its more organically contoured dash, driver centric cockpit layout and new seat detailing. One thing that hasn't changed is the MAZDA5's sliding rear doors that facilitate access to the second and third row of seats and a large rear liftgate that grants entry to its surprisingly spacious and easily storage bay.

On the mechanical front, the 2012 Mazda MAZDA5 swaps the previous 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine for the 2.5-liter used in the MAZDA3, MAZDA6 and CX-7. Making 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, it delivers four more ponies but 15 additional twist units without any impact on fuel economy. While it can be paired with either a six-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic with performance-enhancing Active Adaptive Shift Protocol in the base Mazda5 Sport, the Touring and Limited models can only be had with the autoshifter. Only the details have changed on the front strut/rear multilink suspension, but stiffer springs and revamped front suspension bushings yield better roll control and straight-line stability as well as more direct steering feel.

All versions of the 2012 Mazda MAZDA5 will come with full range of power assists, cruise control, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, tilt/telescoping steering column, traction/stability controls, anti-lock brakes with Mazda's new Brake Override System and six airbags. Touring spec adds things like leather interior accents, Bluetooth connectivity, a trip computer, foglamps, side-sill extension and a rear liftgate spoiler while the Grand Touring Limited brings full leather upholstery, HID headlamps, power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, six-disc CD changer and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. While pricing has not yet been released, the 2012 Mazda MAZDA5 will go on sale in January.

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