PUTTING THE MINI BACK IN MINIVAN
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Published on Sun, Sep 7, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and pictures by Doug Stokes
A few years ago the Holiday Inn hotel chain used a very effective advertising slogan, “No surprises …”
Taken in a good way, that slogan will work fine to initially introduce the 2014 Mazda5, a great example of an all-around minivan.
Truth is, the week that we got our scheduled drive in this mid-size minivan, was not one during which we were able to do as much driving as desired (that’s why we’ll label this report as an “impression”). But based on the miles we did do, I feel confident in making the following comments.
First of all at $21,010 (including a $795 “delivery, processing, and handling fee”) there’s a lot of Mazda here for the money and the window sticker bears that out. Posted as a 6-passenger machine, I’d say that the rear row WILL work for an extra two passengers, but I would not subject two good friends to a really long ride if you wish to remain on their holiday card lists.
The Mazda5’s 2.5 liter engine has something that I always look for on the spec. sheet (and hope to experience in motion): good horsepower and torque numbers that are (relatively) close together. In that context, the Mazda5’s four-cylinder steps into the ring at 157 horsepower and 163 pounds-foot of torque. That equitable match-up along with this nice four-cylinder engine’s variable valve timing means good acceleration with good mileage figures. The Fed folks over in the District of Columbia say the 5 will get “21 city / 28 highway” with an overall average of 24 miles per gallon.
The “Sport” version Mazda5 comes with a six-speed manual, and “stirring the cogs” (as the old English racing drivers use to refer to shifting gears for oneself) seems a bit elemental for a potential soccermobile… let’s just call it “sporty” and leave it there.
But then, our test Mazda5 was the standard-equipped model with NO other prices (save one, a rear bumper guard priced at $75) for optional equipment.
Oh, I almost forgot a little complaint. I’m an arm rest guy and the arm rest in the Mazda5 would be perfect for an automatic transmission model, but with the six-speed being able to precisely shift into second, fourth, and sixth gears (at least for my physique) without fouling the driver’s center arm rest was just not a good bet. It can be done, but only by putting out far more concentration than I’m willing to expend. (And that concludes the negative part of this review.)
What this one did have was smart styling that actually understood the fact that it was a Minivan, but that still had a few nice flairs and a proud smile on its face.
We mentioned that third row of seats, and my guess is that in most cases they’ll be folded flat (nice and flat by the way) and all that space will be used to haul a whole lot of groceries, a week’s worth of beach gear, lawn supplies for two seasons, many cases of fresh-brewed adult beverages, and so on. There’s plenty room to lug stuff here.
Keyless entry, smart-looking 16” alloy wheels, and good climate control (as we now refer to the combined heating, filtering, and air conditioning functions) are both standard here. It was v. hot in town when we were driving this one and we had no complaints on the cool-keeping side of that dial at all.
One of the things that I tend to notice about every Mazda that I’ve ever driven is its understated build quality. Nothing jumps out at you as bespoke, opulent, or super-wonderful, but every piece of this machine fits and works, and seemed almost to like what it’s doing. No loose ends, attempts at unneeded cleverness, or whimsy. Have I anthropomorphized that a bit too much? Sorry, but this machine does smile (just look at the pictures).
Drivers will find a good set of ABS-controlled anti-lock disc brakes all around here. As noted above we did not drive this one very far, but, as readers of LA Car must know, a hundred miles in LA traffic will get the brakes used hard enough to know if they are going to be okay. These are.
There are hundreds of dollars worth of add-ons on the “optional” equipment list for the Mazda5, but, with the possible exceptions of an automatic transmission and (maybe a Sirius radio subscription) our brief experience in this one left us un-needing any of the extras.
There’s a good 36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty backed up with a 60,000 mile / 60-month powertrain (same), 24/7 roadside assistance and cruise control, along with dynamic stability control (that unseen hand that can help during extreme maneuvering situations).
All told, no surprises is a very good thing here, especially with the high expectations that this reviewer keeps for all Mazda products.
That’s it for this one. The Mazda5 compares favorably with everything in its class, and does everything that’s one would expect from a modern “minivan” that’s trying hard to shake off that very stereotype. -DS
For more information about Mazda products, go to mazdausa.com
Name of vehicle:
2014 MAZDA5 Sport MT
$21,010 (as tested)
EPA mileage estimates (miles per gallon):
21 city/28 highway
2.5 liter DOHC 16-valve VVT I4
157 @ 6000 rpm
163 pound-feet at 4000 rpm
Suspension Four-wheel independent, with MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, and stabilizer bars front and back Wheels and tires: 16 X 16.5 inch alloy wheels and P205/55R16 89H tires Brakes Ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes, four-wheel ABS, emergency braking assist, and electronic brakeforce distribution Dimensions Overall length: 180.5 inches Overall width: 68.9 inches Overall height: 63.6 inches Curb weight: 3417 pounds