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BIGGEST LITTLE MINIVAN IN TEXAS
and elsewhere: The 2012 Mazda5

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jan 7, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Biggest little minivan in Texas and elsewhere: The 2012 Mazda5

By Roy Nakano If there’s ever a car that deserves to do better on the American market, it’s the Mazda5. Here’s a minivan that’s just a tad bigger than a Toyota Prius, gets great gas mileage, seats six, and out-maneuvers any minivan on the market. It’s got a Tiptronic-style automatic transmission that provides some sporty, manual control, allowing you to row through the gears on your own. To top it off, it’s got great visibility all around, is easy to park, and is abundantly affordable. So, why isn’t this the most popular minivan around?

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Well, it’s certainly not the most beautiful-looking car. Even with its all new body for 2012, no one will confuse the Mazda5 for an Italian sports car. The front has that familiar Cheshire cat grin that is uniquely Mazda (time to get another signature grille, Mazda). The sides have some curvy character lines that look okay from certain angles, and awkward from others. The Mazda5 is very small for a minivan. Americans are used to having their minivans super-sized. And true, the trunk space with the third row up is almost non-existent. But it’s rare for most people to need all three rows all the time. With the third row partially or fully down, there’s ample trunk space. And the smaller dimensions pay great dividends in maneuverability. The Mazda5 is easier to park than any other minivan on the market—by a country mile (have you tried backing up in a full-size minivan lately?).

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The small size also means you can made do with a not-so-thirsty four-cylinder engine, which in turn means better gas mileage. The EPA rates the fuel economy of the Mazda5 at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway. For a minivan, those are pretty good numbers. There are a few nits to pick with the Mazda5, however. Getting in and out of the third row is not as easy as other minivans. On the other hand, it’s about par with some SUVs that offer three rows of seating. We also have a minor gripe about the side rear door hinges that look like a foot step, but are emblazoned with a “do not step on” sign. If Mazda made the hinge strong enough to serve as a foot step, it would make getting in and out of the third row significantly easier.

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Kind of like putting a "do not eat" sign on a cookie jar

As a six-seating daily driver, however, the Mazda5 is without peer. The car handles like a compact sedan. Steering response is like no other minivan around. Use the Tiptronic-style automatic transmission in manual mode, and this car can be downright sporty. And despite certain other minivans that offer “sport” models, the Mazda5 will out-sport them all. LA Car had an opportunity to drive the Mazda5 in the truck capital of the USA, namely Texas. Despite the big ol’ trucks on the Texas roads, we had no trouble maneuvering around the local transportation the way certain BMW drivers maneuver around Los Angeles freeways (see LA Car’s “Are BMW Drivers A-holes?”).

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So, no matter if you’re circling the city limits of Austin in search of Rudy’s for some good barbecue brisket, or driving in-and-out of L.A. traffic for a local In-and-Out Burger, the Mazda5 is really the perfect vehicle. A little bit of sport, great people carrying capacity, good gas mileage, and parking spot-friendly—an unheard of combination of attributes. It’s the biggest little minivan in Texas, California, and anywhere else in the good old U.S. of A. For more information about Mazda products, go to mazdausa.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Mazda5 Price: $19,345 (base) $21,345 (Touring) $23,875 (Grand Touring) $24,720 (as tested) Grand Touring model, as tested, includes second row Captain chairs, leather-trimmed seats, shift knob and steering wheel, heated front seats, xenon headlights, automatic climate control, CD changer, six-speaker audio system, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio system, power moonroof, remote keyless illuminated entry, rain-sensing windshield wipers. EPA fuel economy rating: 21 city/28 highway miles per gallon Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve VVT in-line four Power: 157 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 163 pound-feet @ 4000 rpm

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Note that you can manually select the gears for more sport, if you wish

Transmission: 5-speed automatic with sequential manu-matic mode Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front suspension Multi-link rear suspension Four-wheel independent suspension Front and rear stabilizer bars Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy wheels and P205/50R17 89V tires, with steel-rimmed spare tire Dimensions Width: 68.9 in. Height: 63.6 in. Length: 180.5 in. Curb weight: 3457 lbs.

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What In-and-Out Burger is to Southern California, Rudy's is to Texas, or so we're told

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