2012 Mazda5 Test Drive – Mazda5 Test Drive

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Date of sale: Now

Cost: $ 19,990 to $ 24,670

Competitors: Kia Rondo, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V

Powertrains: 2.5-liter in-line four: 157 hp, 163 lb-ft; six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic

EPA Fuel Economy: 21/28 mpg

What’s new: In addition to the all-new sheet metal, the 2012 Mazda5 benefits from a 2.5-liter version of Mazda’s inline-four (replacing a 2.3), delivering 157 horsepower and significantly improved torque over a wider operating range. , peaking at 163 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Despite the increase in horsepower, the engine’s fuel economy actually improved. All of this new performance is easily harnessed by a new standard six-speed manual transmission.

Of course, there is also a five-speed automatic transmission; it is available as an option on the base Sport model and standard on the Touring and Grand Touring models. The new styling offers a much more toned down version of Mazda’s Joker-grin grille, significantly improving the appearance of the car. At the rear, new horizontal tail light clusters replace the funky vertical stripes of the old car, and various creases, flares and flourishes now lend character to the car’s sides.

Driving Character: While not as firmly suspended as the Mazda3, the Mazda5 is nonetheless pleasantly responsive. The steering is direct and precise, and the chassis plays perfectly, making the car as compact and light as a small sedan, despite having three rows and six seats. Sliding side doors may scream like a minivan, but the vehicle itself is anything but minivan in nature. Even the interior, which features a gearshift console much like a minivan, is more like that of a sports sedan in every way. One could argue that the smoother ride and quiet handling make this vehicle preferable to something like the more aggressive Mazda3 teammate. And with a starting price (for a well-equipped Sport model) of less than $ 20,000, this is perhaps the stealthiest performance car in its class.

Favorite detail: It’s comfortable enough to make boring rides easier, but tight enough to encourage spirited driving. And there is always room for friends.

Driver’s complaint: People have a bad impression of this car and therefore won’t give you a lot of slack on the road. No matter that, you can pass them inside at the next turn.

The bottom line: We think if you could get more people to try the Mazda5, Honda’s CR-V wouldn’t necessarily beat it at a rate of nearly two-to-one. Blame it on perceptions. A single opportunity to disgorge passengers through the Mazda5’s sliding doors into a tight parking space would sell the idea to most people, and Mazda’s decision to put two captain’s seats in the middle row makes it seem like the vehicle was designed for going out to dinner with friends. Equipment levels are comprehensive, especially at the price point, and the Mazda5 has all the security systems you would need in a vehicle meant to transport its precious offspring. And once the little ones have disembarked, you can spin and cruise down a twisty canyon road – Mazda has calibrated its electro-hydraulic power steering to feel wonderfully organic. So whatever driving environment you find yourself in, the Mazda5 is fun to drive. It’s an utterly charming vehicle, which is probably why its owners are so fiercely loyal.

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