Mazda5: My Take

2006mazda5

In our quest to offer as many viewpoints about new models as possible, I respectfully offer my thoughts on the Mazda5 mini-minivan Mike Hanley recently reviewed over on the main Cars.com page.

While I agree with Mike that the Mazda5 is a nifty little people-mover, I just don’t understand who would want one. It seems too small for today’s real-life family and too pedestrian for a commute vehicle. Perhaps it would work best as a higher-mileage suburban shuttle for soccer moms, but it would have to stay home on lengthy commutes.

There was no joy in Mazda5-ville on a long drive from Chicago to Detroit. The wedge-shaped minivan was buffeted by wind, and there never seemed to be enough power on hand to produce an authoritative passing maneuver. The sound system was intolerable, and the interior was actually below the level of the Mazda3 compact sedan and hatchback that the Mazda5 is based on. And I say all this as a big fan of Mazda’s recent offerings.

The best use I got out of it was when I went to the furniture store to pick up a new leather chair for my living room. The rather bulky chair easily made it into the Mazda5's rear with all the seats folded flat. I doubt it would have been as easy a maneuver in my wife’s SUV with its higher cargo floor and shorter roof.

Besides moving that chair I was thoroughly disappointed by the Mazda5. It did everything OK but nothing exceptionally. Although — like Mike — I thought it looked pretty sharp, and you can’t beat the price of entry.

By David Thomas | July 31, 2006 | Comments (31)

Comments 

Reb

I am student having to pretend to buy a car for $30,000. What do you suggest

Reb,
Is this for a class?
Emails us at [email protected] about the assignment and we'll see what we can come up with.

Mazda5 Owner

I'm a Mazda5 owner for 12 months, now. I have a lot of opinions on this vehicle but my comments below will be confined to the things I feel I know well...

SUMMARY:
Great vehicle for the money if size fits your needs. Lots of utility and fun for scooting around town and the occasional long trip. Not the best choice for long, uneventful commutes. At 14K miles, I am even happier now with mine than when I bought it.

MY MINIVAN BACKGROUND:
I've previously owned a Ford Windstar (143K miles) and Ford Aerostar (226K miles).

OVERVIEW:
Compared to true minivans, the Mazda5 is a dream to drive if you're into the "driving experience" (quick, sharp turns and such). Based on an extended Mazda 3 chassis and sharing the same engine, the 5 actually has pep, responsiveness and a tight turning radius -- definitely not the rolling living room most minivans strive to be. I feel far more in touch with the road in the 5 than in my wife's Mazda 6 Sport sedan.

PROS:
Too many to list in my opinion but then this vehicle perfectly fits my family's needs. For the money the 5 is quite comfortable and comes fairly well-equipped. I bought a loaded 5 "Touring" edition with the optional navigation system and automatic transmission for $21K in 8/2005.

Notable pros are:
- Ultra-easy loading/unloading. Extra-wide side doors and a low loading height.
- Respectable gas mileage for highway driving. At 14K miles I am getting 27mpg fully-loaded with people/cargo.
- Zoom and pep with just 1 or 2 people.
- Engine is same tried-and-true 2.3L used for the past several years in the Mazda 3 and 4-cyl Mazda 6.
- First two rows very comfortable.
- 3rd row quite nice to have (but not to use all the time).
- Good cargo-carrying options through ability to individually fold flat any of the 2nd and 3rd row seats.
- Easy to drive and park.

CONS:
- Road noise can be quite high on some surfaces due to the low-profile sport tires, lack of any serious sound-proofing and the cavernous passenger area.
- Agressive driving drops mpg down to around 19 to 20 mpg (unloaded, driver only).
- Underpowered if carrying more than 2-3 people but still adequate for normal driving.
- Lacks a front-passenger armrest.
- 3rd row not big enough to comfortably seat two adults.
- Seats cannot be removed to free up additional cargo space.
- Scant cargo room with 3rd row seats deployed.
- The 2006 US version does not include roof cargo rails as a standard feature (but can be added as an option).
- The 2006 US version lacks availability of Euro and/or Japanese Mazda 5 options like rear-facing camera, backup sensors, all-wheel drive and powered side doors, to name a few.

OTHER NOTES:
- I relocated my spare tire from the interior spare tire well to the bottom of the vehicle, just under the spare tire well. This gives me a good deal more cargo space.
- The largest item I've carried so far has been a 20 cu foot upright freezer.
- The stock sound system is quite adequate (but still short of "impressive"). I say this as a previous manager of a car stereo installation shop.
- I liked the Mazda 5 more after three months of driving it than I did the first week of ownership. I suppose it took 90+ days of living with it to fully appreciate all of its merits. One year later I still love it.

Mazda5 Owner,

This is quite thorough. Have you considered posting it as a consumer review?

http://research.cars.com/go/crp/consrevwidget.jsp

Dave

Can't figure out why? Uhh... $3+ a gal for gas is why... We also have a Honda Odyssey. For taking the 3 kids to school and commuting to work the '5' is the PERFECT car. Plus the added fact that it was $18K.

Oh yeah, did I forget FUN TO DRIVE?

Mitch from Montana

People that don't like the Mazda5 are either
used to driving exotic cars or have not spent much time in one. My Mazda5 is small on the out-side and big on the inside. Holds just as much people and gear as a chevy tahoe and gets 30 mpg. Mine has a 5 speed and is the fastest cruising car on the market. If you don't like it show me a better vehicle for $19,600.

riverrage

You "don't understand" who would buy one? Let me tell you that many people I know would buy one, and the dealer can't keep ehough of them in stock. They are primarily people who are between the age of 30-100, who are conscious of good gas mileage, space, safety, looks, and affordability. That's alot of people in my opinion. Having owned one for over a year, the reliability and quality are above most. You seem to be in the minority in your evaluation of this veihcle, even among your peers in the industry. We find this vehicle relatively comfortable on long trips as well.

rackensack

Who would want one? Me, for one. We have three kids under the age of 10. We already have a minivan (a Mazda MPV) that's my wife's primary vehicle. When my 10-year-old Honda Civic finally gave up the ghost late last year, I started looking around for a replacement. My criteria were:

* enough seating for all five of us, and potentially one grandparent or other adult;
* decent gas mileage;
* automatic transmission (my wife never was comfortable driving the Civic since it had a manual transmission);
* priced at or below about $20K.

I didn't want another full-on minivan, and ideally wanted something that would be at least a bit fun to drive.

The Mazda5 was the only vehicle on the market that really fit the bill. We've had ours for about six months, just under 10K miles, and haven't regretted it for a second. Yes, it's noisier on the highway than a full-sized minivan, and no, you're not going win any drag races, but for what we need it's just about perfect. It's more fun to drive than anything else that's comparable (and I've driven a lot of different rental cars, as I used to travel nearly every week for work), has enough room for all of us (albeit with not a lot to spare), gets better gas mileage than our MPV or almost anything else that'll seat six. I've spent plenty of time on the highway in it (driving 260 miles round trip each week to a client site most of the time I've had it) as well as in Atlanta traffic. On the freeway, I've pegged the cruise control at 80 and never noticed any unnecessary downshifting or seeking to maintain that, though admittedly there aren't any steep inclines on my route. We've even loaded everybody up for a weekend trip to Asheville (about 3 hours away) -- responded better than the MPV to climbing hills fully loaded, and was a heck of a lot more stable on curves at speed. We don't try to use it for extended road trips where we need to pack more stuff, but we have the MPV for that, or for in-town trips where we need more people or stuff.

The sound system is admittedly not as good as the one in the MPV or in other vehicles I've driven, but it's adequate, and it's a vast improvement over the stock AM/FM/cassette in my old Civic.

I can see where people who like more luxury in their primary ride wouldn't think much of the 5 -- and I hate that the only interior color option was black (not a good thing in Georgia), and that the carpeting seems to trap every scrap of dirt or leaves that gets near it, but then I'm not obsessive about having an immaculate interior -- I have three small kids, remember? There are a lot of people out there who don't need or want this car, but there's plenty of us out here who do.

When Mazda puts out a Mazdaspeed5, I will be first in line. Other than a turbo motor, I assume such a vehicle would include traction control.

Power and traction are holding me back. Mainstream minivans are too big for my needs, and Japan refuses to export its REALLY good vans, a la the MPV, the Japan-market Odyssey, and the Mazda5/Rondo killer, the Honda Latitude (d.b.a. the Stream, in Japan).

SmithLopez

I like this car, easy to load and can be bought with manual transmission. And at least nobody has one.

Andrew

I am interested in the Mazda 5, and have done some web research recently. Everything has been quite positive, except for the following note of concern.

A few comments indicate a major problem with the tires wearing out prematurely, arount 10K to 17K miles.

During a recent visit to the dealer, a salesperson indicated that all 3 versions of the Mazda 5 share the same drive train, suspension, etc, so I figure this potential problem would apply to all 3 models.

Can anyone help me out with these questions?
1) Has anyone had this problem with premature tire wear?
2) If so, does anything fix it, like replacing the tires with a different brand than what comes from the dealer?
3) If you have had problems with premature tire wear-out, did you routinely rotate the tires, and keep them to the specified 32 pounds psi? (the dealer indicated these two things are important to maintaining the tires).

Brent

We have a 2006 Mazda 5 with 36,000-odd miles on it, and we're just now really coming due for new tires, and largely due to my own mistake. I thought our 5 had a tire pressure monitoring system, so I assumed our tire pressure was fine. It wasn't until they were visibly lacking that I took note, they were down to around 15 psi, and the front tires were showing a lousy wear pattern. I had rotated them myself some time earlier, so the lousy wear was fairly rapid. I think properly taken care of the Toyo Proxes tires ours came with should be good for for 40,000 or more.
Only other problem was a bad rear strut, replaced under warranty. It did die on my wife once while driving, but started right up again and hasn't done it again since. Recently the auto transmission did a really bizzare lurch under moderate acceleration, but that too has not repeated itself.
My only complaints are either obvious or negligible. The rear storage with the third row up is lousy, as previously noted, but we rarely have them up. I have about 1/2" of wiggle room to either side around the gas pedal, driving with boots on can be dicey. And I hate the electronic climate control, you must take your eyes off the road too long to make any adjustment to anything other than temperature or fan speed.

GeoFied

I have a Mazda5 with around 23K on it. I love the car, but I need to replace the tires due to uneven wear, despite the fact that I've had them rotated regularly. The road noise is considerable since the tires have gotten worse. The other issue I have is that the tires are pretty expensive to replace, possibly due to the Sport Tire size, 205/50R17. Most of the tires I see at the wholesale clubs and retail stores are approaching or over $200. That's a lot for tires for a not-quite two year old car.

My View is exactly what that writing was. What an idot. With rising fuel costs, size issues, and insurance premiums, who wouldn't consider the Mazda 5. This car fit into a niche that Dumb Americans (like the author) need to start realizing. You don't need to have a V8 or even a V6 to get around. The 4 cycyinder in this car is pretty zippy. The space is great as well as the versatility. Mazda makes a good product for cheap. All said, this is a fantastic option for many, many people. America just needs to get over it obsession with gas guzzling SUV's. Period. Whatever happened to the wagon anyway? Can barely buy one these days. The Mazda five is ahead of its time. They (along with similar types of cars) sell extremely well in Europe and other contries. You want your gigantic SUV, your V8 fine. But don't bad mouth smart progressive people and their dicesions to buy a good car at an afordable price. Why don't you go drive through a McDonalds or something, then you can justify your fat ass that needs to fit in your gigantic SUV!

You suck as a reviewer.

I've had my Mazda5 for 2 years and it's been amazing. We have a 2 year old that has been riding in this car since he was born. He, along with all the junk associated with having a baby, fit just fine in this car.

I can't count how many times we had to fit grandparents, friends, and other relatives on trips that would definitely take another car if it wasn't for the 3rd row seats.

All of that with an excellent gas mileage. I don't know what you're looking for in a car, Maybe you like Hummers. I can picture you driving down the street with your gigantic Hummer doing a whopping 7 MPG and smiling.

What a douchebag.

Alex

I have a 2007 Mazda 5 and it is a perfect car for my wife and 2 young kids under 4. The price was $18,500 out the door with tax. The gas mileage has been around 24 mpg and it is extremely easy to drive and maneuver. The vehicle height and sliding side doors make it a cinch for loading kids in and out and will save your back. We also own a suburban and my wife refuses to drive it now. The 3rd row seats are small but you can certainly put 2 more kids or samll adults back there if need be. If not, there is plenty of room to store stuff with them down.

The car is definitely not a luxury vehicle by any stretch. The interior materials are marginal at best and it is missing standard roof racks for a cargo box. The interior noise coming through the low profile tires which do wear out too quickly ( 30K ) is at times a nuisance. It is not a sports car, but I dont understand why I would need to dart around with my chldren in the back. Plenty of power for every day driving.

Overall I believe we made the right choice based on the available cars in this price range.

Good Luck

Kim

I like my Mazda 5 more than I like most people.

What more can I say?

Wendy

Love my Mazda5, but the Toyo tires it came with wear unevenly--from the inside out. A lot of people need to replace them at around 30K miles. They report no problems with non-Toyo replacements. I bought my 2006 for a song, but will need to spend $800 soon for a new set of tires.

Al

We have been very disappointed in our Mazda 5 because we were not aware that it wasn't a good vehicle for highway driving. Even with new tires, it is the wheel noise is so bad that we can't hear the very poor radio supplied with the vehicle. We have just over 100,000kms on it and we are needing to go into the 4th set of tires. We have always maintained correct tire pressure and had the tires rotated and balanced at the required times and the last time we invested in a very high
quality tire. We have been told by 2 indepedant mechanics that the problem lies in the suspension and that is causing the unusual wear patterns on the tires. The Mazda dealerships refuse to admit this - actually told us that we did TOO MUCH HIGHWAY DRIVING - and have no solution to our problem. They suggest alignment and rotation every 8000 kms, which we think is a little excessive. Wish we could dump this car but we are seniors and can't afford to do it. Anybody got an answer to this problem?

Vic

yea well let me guess do you have the GT model? if you do then you probably go to the tires just cause they are lower profile(bigger rim) so that would be why. The GS comes with 16inch and the GT comes with 17.. they do not last long.. plus more expensive.

Mazdamary

I love my Mazda5 overall, but I do have a few beefs. I bought the '07 in Dec '06, and have 60,000km on it. Didn't drive it much in 2009, maybe 5000km. Paid almost 30,000 for the Sport GT model with power everything, remote start and side airbag package. I mostly drive equally in the downtown areas of cities, about 1000km/month for work, and 1000km of low-traffic highway driving. I love it for maneuvering through traffic and in tight parking spots, but I hate the gas mileage. I only get 12L/100km, and I figure I should get better, since the rating was approx 7L/100km highway, and 9L/100km city. I don't get even close. I took it to Mazda and they initially said it takes a while to get up to an equalized mileage rate. A year later they said it is the way I drive. (?) I have the same tire issues as others. I have the 17's, but wanted the 16's; unfortunately not an option when I chose the package to get the side airbags. It was an all or nothing deal. I also had it in 3 times for alignment problems the first year. It still isn't right. Drifts heavily to the right.

As a 5'1" woman with size 5 feet, the size is perfect for me. My 6'4" coworker looks like a giant in a Mini, though he says it isn't too uncomfortable having his chin on his knees. I love the passenger/storage versatilty, although my tall children don't fit the back seats, and haven't since they were 10 and 12. I love the handling, despite negative reviews about traction. The day I test drove one, it was pouring buckets and sheets of water washed the streets, and it handled corners like a charm. (plus, I wished I had familiarized myself with wiper operation, and like magic, the rain-sensor wipers magically granted my wish). It was great in the snow the first two winters until the tires wore down. I find it anorexic on the 401, but that is likely a good thing in my case, lol. Definite difference with more than my two kids on board. Gear and extra bodies slow it down, even an extra 200lb adult. Wouldn't mind being able to tow a small trailer, but I couldn't get anyone to install a hitch, stating it wasn't rated for towing. Roof racks would have been nice, but I thought they looked uncool at the time. Duh. I was buying a baby mini-van. Love the side power latching doors.

Would I buy another one? Yes, I would, but I'd want a better price/interest rate.

I would like to find photographs as well Aby!!! I never ever imagined so that you can brand the family fridge. My own display cases are referred to as, however is not the particular . Terrific plan!

Dave

Regarding roadnoise, tire wear, and tire cost - consider something besides the Mazda OEM tires (Japaneese brand). There are now other tires which may be less noisey, handling better on snow, and cost a little less. I am considering makin the change as road noise keeps us from using our Mazda5 on long trips.

Charlie

We have a 2009 Mazda5 with the 17" tires. At 24,000 miles we are on the second set of tires in the rear. The inside of the rear tires are wearing out just like the original toyo tires did. The replacement tires were supposed to last better. They have about 5,000 miles on them and are already showing signs of wear. The original toyo tires in the front still look good but the back of the car must be "pigeon toed". Toyo tires were not good in snow last winter. I had to push the car up a hill while my wife drove it. I wonder if I can get 16" rimes and tires for the mazda5. In addition to the tires we had a transmission light come on at 17,000 miles. We parked the car and called mazda. They came and got the car and decided to put a new transimision in it. We had a loaner car for almost a month while they waited for a transmission to arrive. Mazda took care of the problem and we didn't pay anything. I don't think they loose many transmissions with this model.

I will be putting snow tires on the front of the car in the next month. In spite of the tires and transmission my wife still loves her mazda. It gets much better milage than our dodge caravan did, but if we cannot solve this tire problem I would not recommend the mazda5.

Charlie:

We bought a 2010 Mazda5 Sport with 17" rims. Last winter I found a set of 16" steel rims w/ snow tires from a ~2005 Mazda3 on Craig's list. They fit fine and we had great traction in the snow. Only issue is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System light stays on, unless your willing to haul around the stock wheels with you :)

Tommy

I TOTALLY disagree with this reviewer. I went from a loaded 2007 Toyota Corolla S to a 2010 Mazda 5 Touring. Let me just start by saying you can't compare the 5 to the Corolla. It's the best riding & handling car i've driven in a long, long, while. And i am one of the lucky ones who got this vehicle equipped with stability & traction control. I say this because many folks didn't have these options from the model years 2006-2009 and complained quite a bit about it. However, i'm driving mine around in the New England winters here in Massachusetts with NO problems on the stock 17in Toyo tires. However, when i do switch out, i'll probably go to the Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires they are well worth the money for this type of vehicle and truly an "all-season" performer. Otherwise, i am extremely happy with my purchase and i get head turns from folks constantly. Plus, i like having a vehicle that isn't so "common" and is in it's own little niche of driving enthusiasts. I'm 36yrs old and have no kids, i just wanted a vehicle with more space and that sat up a bit higher off the ground. Having owned my 5 now for a little over a year. I can honestly say i got that and a WHOLE LOT more. This all said, do not overlook this gem of a vehicle folks...!!!

Chuck

I'm happy with my 2009 Mazda 5 except for the Tire Pressure Monitoring System light that stays on. I went to the dealer and he explained to me that it would cost near $400 to trouble shoot and replace the bad sensor in the tires. I told him that I would rather drive with the light always on than try to fix such a ridiculous problem.

Kenneth

A great car, within certain constraints. If you have young kids (like us) and live in an urban environment, it's pretty hard to beat. You can get children and their friends around and still manage to park in almost any spot. But I agree it's no freeway vehicle. The tire issue is puzzling-our 2 year-old car has only 16K miles, and the inside of the front tire is clearly worn. Seems odd considering it is fundamentally impossible to drive the car like a Ferrari. Rather than replace the OEM Toyos, I am going to try something else.

Anna

I know it's an old post but I just had to comment. As a new owner of Mazda 5 living in NYC (Manhattan) and having to take 4 kids to trips AND be able to maneuver through the city and parallel park... I could not be happier with this car. I did not find anything like it for my particular situation. I got Grand Touring, so all leather seats and backup assistance for only 21K.

Sylvester

We have a 2009 Sport/Automatic we bought new in 2009 and it is used daily by my wife (and four kids).

It has been the perfect car for her and the kids while completely trouble-free since the day we bought it.

All I have ever done to it was routine maintenance, like changing the oil and filters, which I do in our garage at home.

It has never been back to the dealership for anything since she drove it off the lot the day we bought it.

With over 50,000 miles on it I'd say that's a pretty good car. We'll trade it for another new one next year.

TroyOHChatter

We own a 2012 model. A few points.

First, I have moved from Honda to Mazda because of the overall quality decrease in Honda components, our 2003 CR-V falling apart like a Ford before our eyes while our 2000 CR-V was bulletproof.

Mazdas overall offer less power (pre-Skyactive) and MPG than comparable Honda's on paper. However, in real world driving we have found that the Mazda is tuned to deliver real world acceleration below 3500RPM while the Honda's we have owned, even the iVTEC of our 2003, requiring some revs to move it along. The MPG in the Mazda is a few MPG better than EPA while the 2003 CR-V rarely broke the EPA highway measurement.

The other consideration is that one can buy the Mazda5 for less cash than the Mazda3 hatch. The Mazda5 is ideal for us, with my wife using it for hauling on the job items like displays, brochures, and the like and being able to haul 6 in a pinch.

As far as requiring a large van like an Ody or Caravan over the Mazda5, all I can say is our families decades ago got on fine with family station wagons that had about the same amount of practical room as a Mazda5. For the $$ savings and overall ease and, yes, FUN of the driving experience, I'd go for the Mazda5 everytime.

One more point to the guy that says cross winds made the driving experience terrible. Tires. The factory Bridgestones are crap, pure and simple. I tolerated them for 10K miles and then installed a set of Michigan Defenders. That sorted it all out as the car then held the desired line much better than before.

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