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2017 Best Vans and Minivans 2017-2018: The Best and the Rests

When it was new, the Mazda5 earned great reviews for its nimble handling and fun-to-drive persona. All 2015 Mazda5 models feature front-wheel drive, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and a five-speed automatic transmission. Previous model years offered a five-speed manual transmission, an almost unheard of option in the minivan segment. It was eliminated for the Mazda5’s final model year.

Power and Fuel Economy

The Mazda5’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offers 157 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. That’s not much as far as minivans go, but test drivers noted it’s just enough to give the relatively lightweight Mazda5 some sporty characteristics.

Critics praised the Mazda5 for its responsive throttle and found it accelerated well in stop-and-go city driving. The minivan’s five-speed automatic transmission also gets good marks for its precise operation and willingness to downshift. Sport mode allows drivers to manually change gears if they please. The Mazda5 does, however, feel less willing when climbing hills or when fully loaded with passengers and cargo.

That said, test drivers stated the Mazda5 should provide adequate performance for everyday needs, all the while achieving the segment’s best fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The runner-up awards go to the efficient 2015 Honda Odyssey (19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway) and Nissan Quest (20/27 mpg city/highway).

Handling and Braking

The Mazda5 scores well for its athletic driving dynamics. Weighing just under 3, 500 pounds, the Mazda5 is significantly lighter than all its rivals. Critics said its weight coupled with a well-tuned suspension made the Mazda5 enjoyable to drive, while offering precise cornering and very sharp steering with minimal body roll. Test drivers also noted the Mazda5’s smaller dimensions and tight turning radius made it much easier to maneuver in crowded urban areas than its larger competitors.

This sportiness does have a trade-off, however – ride comfort. The Mazda5’s suspension feels taut and delivers a rather firm – though not uncomfortable – ride. Large bumps and uneven pavement are much more noticeable than in a competitive full-size minivan.

2015 Mazda5 Interior

While fun to drive, the Mazda5 received below average scores for its interior. Hop inside and you’ll find a relatively well-laid-out dashboard, but plenty of hard plastic surfaces and few tech features to speak of. Neither a touch screen nor satellite navigation are available in any trim levels. Seating capacity and seat comfort don’t match up against larger minivans either, which offer seating for up to eight.

Seating

The 2015 Mazda5 seats six between its three rows and features cloth upholstery as standard. For leather upholstery or heated front seats, look for a used Grand Touring model.

When the 2015 Mazda5 debuted, critics reported its first two rows were fairly comfortable. The first and second rows each feature a pair of captain’s chairs and boast competitive levels of headroom and legroom for the segment, despite the Mazda5’s small exterior proportions. This is not the case in the 50/50 split third row, however. Sufficient headroom is lacking in the back seats, and test drivers found legroom especially cramped.

If you plan to regularly fill all six seats, you’ll want to cross-shop larger minivans in the segment, such as used 2015 Honda Odysseys, Toyota Siennas, or Kia Sedonas. They offer high levels of seating comfort in all rows and can hold up to eight people comfortably.

The Mazda5 can safely accommodate two child seats in its second row. Both second-row seats feature full LATCH equipment: two lower child-seat anchors each and one upper tether. The third row offers a pair of upper tether anchors only. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not rate the 2015 Mazda5’s LATCH system.

Infotainment System and Navigation

The Mazda5 is noticeably lacking when it comes to convenience features. Further, it is the only minivan in the segment not to offer satellite navigation or an infotainment system at all.

Mazda equipped the standard 2015 Mazda5 with only a six-speaker AM/FM radio and a CD player. Bluetooth smartphone connectivity comes standard in all Touring and Grand Touring models, which enables hands-free calling.

Such a sparse setup lends itself to a well-arranged cabin, according to test drivers. An information screen sits prominently at the top of the dashboard, accompanied by well-spaced audio buttons and climate control knobs below. You may find some used Mazda5 models equipped with a rear-seat DVD player, however this extra wasn’t standard equipment in any trim level.

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