Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2012 Mazda5 Touring: A Sporty, Micro Minivan

Highlight: After a one-year hiatus, the Mazda5 has returned as a 2012 model.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $23,180 (Base price starts at $20,140)

Major Standard Features: 16-inch wheels/tires; 6-speed manual transmission; steering wheel mounted audio controls; second-row fold-out tray table with cargo storage and dual cupholders; automatic climate control; captain’s chairs second-row seats; fifty-fifty split fold down third-row seats; side curtain airbags with three rows of coverage; and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel

Standard Audio System: AM/FM/CD-Player with 6 speakers

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Standard on Touring and Grand Touring models only.

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder/157-hp

Standard Fuel Mileage: 21-city/28-hwy

What’s New: After a one-year hiatus, the six-seater Mazda5 returns after being reworked from the inside out for the 2011 model-year. The 5 now shares the same smiley face grille along with curves which are a trademark of the compact size Mazda3.

Pros: This micro minivan earns a lot of check marks in our books. With this micro minivan one can still maintain their cool points, while hauling around a young family, since it will be a tight squeeze for anything other than young kids to enter into the third row.

From the comfortable ride provided by the McPherson suspension system to the second-row captain’s chairs to the clear-sounding audio system to an easy-to-park vehicle, especially in small spaces, this people mover offers everything larger minivans offer, except in a pint sized package.

And fortunate for us the folks from Mazda provided us with a Touring model to review for a week. This midlevel model added on such features as 17-inch wheels, fog lights, an automatic transmission and Bluetooth compatibility. Our Touring model vehicle was also outfitted with such options as a four-month satellite radio subscription, a 6-disc CD changer and a power moonroof.

And for those in need of more high-end features in their 5, the Grand Touring model will fit the bill. With this model, one can expect such standard features as automatic on/off headlights, Xenon High-Intensity lights, heated mirrors, automatic rain-sensing wipers, a power sunroof and heated (front) leather seats.

Moreover, an overhead DVD entertainment system, an automatic day/night mirror and remote engine start can be added to the Grand Touring Package too in order to top-off the vehicle’s extensive list of features.

Cons: Overall we enjoyed the time we spent behind the wheel of the Mazda5. However, seeing that this micro van is designed for city driving, why is that the engineers didn’t think to equip the vehicle with a concealed storage unit for the front seat occupants? Also for those so incline to use the third-row seats it could be a difficult chore. And once the third-row seats are in use, not only will the headrests impede the driver’s rear vision, but cargo room is virtually eliminated too.

And in this day of roller-coaster gas prices at the pump, Mazda needs to work on inching a few more miles to gallon out of the 5. Furthermore, for now you’ll have to use your smartphone or some other mobile device as a guide, since there isn’t a nav system available. Oh yes and don't expect a back-up camera. Like in the old days, one will have to rely on their instincts before going in reverse.

The Verdict: This mico minivan offers mostly everything one can expect in the larger vans, sliding doors, flexible seating arrangements, second-row captain’s chairs and loads of safety features, but in a smaller package and at a much lower price point. For those not ready for a minivan or a station wagon, the Mazda5 should be the answer to one’s prayer. Where else can one expect to find a nicely equipped six-passenger vehicle in the low $20s?

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