In a world where few even realize that "full-size minivan" is an oxymoron, there's the 2015 Mazda5 compact minivan. The Mazda5's compact dimensions and nimble road manners are a breath...
... of fresh air where so many competitors lumber through life. However, instead of thinking about bigger vans like the Honda Odyssey or Dodge Grand Caravan, both of which cost significantly more, the Mazda5 also competes against compact SUVs like the
Honda CR-V and
Ford Edge. Compared to them, the little van feels surprisingly nimble, with sharp steering and a firm suspension that's keeping in line with the Mazda "zoom-zoom" philosophy. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine isn't exceptionally powerful, but it's certainly enough to get the job done, even if it occasionally struggles when fully loaded. The 6-speed manual transmission has been dropped this year, a move certain to draw laments from a handful of family-toting enthusiasts, but few others.