The 2014 Mazda5 is the perfect minivan for those who don’t want a minivan. First of all, you can tell yourself that this is not a minivan at all, despite its breathtaking sliding doors. After all, Mazda doesn’t call its little Mazda5 a van, so why should you? Second, if you get the Sport model, like our test car, you can order it with a very little minivan 6-speed manual transmission, opening the door to equally non-minivan shenanigans.
With just 157 horsepower, the Mazda5 is hardly fast. However, with the Miata, Mazda has proven that speed is not essential to pleasure, and the manual transmission makes it easy to take advantage of the power of the small 4-cylinder. The dashboard-mounted shifter looks a bit odd, but it’s easy to reach, and the soft clutch and shifter work in tandem to make you feel like you’re accelerating like crazy, though. the reality is a little different. However, the manual also allows you to better explore the surprisingly good driving dynamics of this van. The sharp steering and firm suspension combine with the small size to make this pickup behave more like a sports sedan than a practical passenger transport vehicle.
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Fuel efficient and affordable
Yes, practical. There’s plenty of room for six, and the sliding doors let you slip into tight parking spaces without worrying about carelessly ringing someone’s door. The 4-cylinder engine is also fuel efficient, easily beating the fuel-efficient larger vans in town, and overtaking most of them on the highway as well. It’s also inexpensive, starting at just over $ 20,000 and going up to around $ 30,000 if you go with the fully loaded Gran Touring model. It also looks great, especially in the darker colors that hide the goofy black smile on the grille.
The downside is that Mazda limits the fun manual transmission to the base Sport models. If you want a factory navigation system, Bluetooth, or even an on-board computer in your van, you’re looking for the Touring or Grand Touring models, both of which only come with a 5-speed automatic. There are also other tradeoffs. Unlike full-size vans, the tiny cargo space behind the third row means you can haul cargo or six passengers in the Mazda5, but not at the same time. The Mazda5 is also particularly noisy on the highway, and you can forget about minivan staples like power sliding doors or an electric hatch; they are not available.
Despite these limitations, there is still a lot to love about the Mazda5. While it would be nice if the manual transmission were more widely available, enthusiasts are probably just grateful that the option exists. Interestingly, the small van market is expanding thanks to the recent introduction of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, which is more family-friendly. If we’re lucky, Mazda will respond with a new version of its small van. Here’s hoping.
No more 2014 Mazda5 …
No more quick catches …