2013 Mazda5 Grand Touring
Steve Purdy Review

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By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

Try not to confuse the six-passenger Mazda5, with the newer, five-passenger Mazda CX-5. The latter is essentially a conventional small crossover and the former is a small minivan. Lest you think that term “small minivan” redundant let me remind you that there is nothing small about the class of vehicles we call minivans. They have massive amounts of cargo capacity and configurations accommodating up to 8-passengers. Similarly, the Mazda5 provides impressive capacity considering it’s diminutive size and space for 6 passengers, if two of them are diminutive as well.

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First impressions of the Mazda5 center on the utilitarian value and the ease of use. Like a bigger minivan it is remarkably easy to get into and out of both front and rear. I barely had to duck getting into the driver’s seat. And, visually at least, it appears to represent a more efficient use of space than expected. It is much more cavernous on the inside than you might expect seeing it from the outside. We’ll expand on those impressions later.

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This is just the second generation of the Mazda5, having been substantially revised just last year (2012). I’ve always thought the exterior styling was a bit awkward and less than attractive, particularly in the rear. While it still projects that lack of aesthetic appeal back there the full side and front views are now quite lovely and innovative. From the front it has a big, exaggerated, unmistakably-Mazda grin and on the side a series of asymmetrical character lines - sort of graceful slashes - add an intriguing aesthetic element.

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Inside we find a simple and plain design and materials that don’t call attention to themselves. Flat black hard surfaces prevail with conventional controls that are easy to manage. Inside a little trap door at the base of the center stack a USB port and electrical outlet are hidden from view even with the trap door open. A handy little shelf above the glove box enhances the utility of the interior, as does a little horizontal slot in the center stack that accommodates a smart phone nicely. The tilt and telescopic steering wheel has more travel than just about any small car we’ve reviewed, and that’s important for big guys like me. Factory navigation is not available.

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The second row seating (of my tester) consists of two captains chairs with armrests that slide forward with a gentle tug on one lever to give relatively easy access to the small, two-place third row seating. Full-sized people will be seriously cramped in that third row. A small foldaway table for the second row adds to the kid-friendliness back there.

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Cargo capacity is impressive providing 97.7 cubic-feet of space with second and third row seats folded. That’s only 10% less than the big Nissan Quest. With just the third row folded we still have 44 cubic-feet in which to stuff our stuff. The big lift-gate in the rear and the sliding back doors give remarkably easy access to all that space.

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Under the hood we find a 2.5-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder making a modest 157 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque - the only engine available in the Mazda5. That’s plenty for non-demanding use but might be a bit anemic in hilly terrain or fully loaded with kids and their cargo. Most will sport a five-speed automatic transmission though a six-speed manual is standard on the base model. Zero-to-60mph time was clocked by one of the automotive Websites at a leisurely 9.5 seconds and the EPA mileage estimates are an unimpressive 22-mpg in the city, 28 on the highway and 24 combined. With a 15.9-gallon tank we have a decent 350-mile cruising range. Mazda’s ultra-efficient SkyActive technologies have not been fully implemented yet with the Mazda5 but we expect to see that soon, and that will add to those mileage numbers.

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Besides the inspired use of space much of the charm of the Mazda5 is in its spirited and agile handling. Sporty suspension and quick steering provide the kind of nimble, fun-to-drive experience we’ve come to expect from most Mazda products. Suspension geometry and design are conventional with McPherson struts up front and a mulit-link system in the rear but the Mazda engineers always seem to put some extra fun into it.

The Mazda5 comes in three trim levels: Sport starting at $19,940, Touring at $22,070 and the Grand Touring at $24,470. Our Grand Touring test car comes standard with the automatic transmission, leather seating with heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, 4-wheel disc brakes, xenon headlights, halogen fog lights, liftgate spoiler, automatic climate control, second row air vents, power moonroof, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and a full compliment of safety features. We have just a couple of minor options that bring the bottom line (with $795 destination charge) to $25,620.

The new car warranty covers the Mazda5 for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

This would be an easy car to live with for a broad variety of folks – young families as well as empty nesters who need some hauling capacity and economy-minded folks in many demographic categories.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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