Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Mazda5

Everyone enjoys being a hero, but as we all know, Superman never made any money saving the world from Solomon Grundy. (Insert Winnipeg music reference here.) Even a crash test dummy knows that the minute you pull into Middle Suburbia with the latest in behemoth haulers, the neighbours are already plotting on how to convince you that hauling the drywall of your fence-friend is as natural an occurrence on the cul-de-sac as crabgrass, faked pregnancies, and manslaughter. Oh wait; that’s Wisteria Lane.

As more families enjoy the art of plasma screens and cocooning, there has been a unique movement amongst the design-niks of the traditional family barge.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

According to Mazda, the 5 is a ‘Multi-Activity Vehicle’, which is a nice way of saying that the 5 is the ride that easily encompasses the needs of most families, with a footprint that will make Joe Borrower rent the Rona half-ton for his deck package. Speaking of packages, this week’s 5 tester is a GT model, with the optional Leather Package and Navi savvy. The MSRP parks at a respectable $28,950.

The Cockpit

Mazda continues to provide the industry with a steering wheel suited for driving, instead of just a circular pod for radio and cruise tabs. And yet, the Zoom-Zoom team still manages to add steering wheel-mounted controls for audio, cruise, and Bluetooth connectivity. The column gets both tilt and telescoping travel. Headlamps receive the always-appreciated Auto setting, while wipers get the uptown treatment, with rain-sensing swipe. Speaking of swipe, the rear wiper/washer provides one of the more oversized sweeps to date, with excellent rearward vision in scummy times.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

Exterior mirrors get power positioning, and ample breakaway articulation for cold and unfeeling parking lots. Additional instrumentation is limited to the tachometer, engine coolant temperature, and trip meter.

The driver’s door pod reveals an Auto switch for the driver, for descent purposes only. Note the position of the gas pedal, which is mighty close to the brake, especially when wearing Sorels. Parking brake is a traditional console-mount lever.

The Centre Stack

The 5 gets impressive Navi savvy, with flip-up screen for access to the six-CD loading bay. GT-glee includes Auto A/C, with heads-up temperature display and HVAC wind direction. Speaking of wind, the HVAC system provides a rear fan, to keep the chill off of the second and third row occupants. A 12-volt powerpoint is found below the shifter, next to the MP3 player jack. Both portals sport flip-up doors, without annoying spring loads.

Cubbies!

As noted in the driver’s door Kodachrome, both front doors get proper pockets, with bottle holders. A cell phone-sized pocket is found to the left of the driver. Dash indents provide impromptu storage for coins, gum, and what-not, though it is in plain view. Instead of a flip-top console box, the 5 uses an open cubby with flocked flooring. The front floor-mount cupholders get a non-removable padded floor, with no cinch mechanisms to speak of. The rear sliding doors do not receive any storage pockets. The driver’s seat backrest sports a soft pocket for skinny bits.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

I’m feeling an award of some sort coming forth for the think behind the second row seat cubbies. Flip the cushion forward, and you find the cavity of choice for your laptop. (Insert angelic interlude here.) Sure beats letting it flop around in the current mondo console concept embraced by kissing corporate cousins, such as the Blue Oval. The passenger side cushion can sport a second laptop, or store the flip-’n-stow centre tableau, with cinchless cupholders, and a unique mesh bag for storage, hidden by a removable top panel.

Third row passengers get high-mount cupholders, with good indent. The locking glove box attempts to organize the Mazda encyclopedia and related materials to the rear, though the configuration seems lacking in useable space.

Look up; waaaay up!

The visors possess unlit vanity mirrors, with no additional blockers or sliding capability.

Seat treat

Are you sitting comfortably? The prognosis is good for that happy landing throughout the 5. The driver’s seat gets manual height control, as well as a lumbar support lever. You’ll find a bumper crop of armrests; two inboard flip-downs up front, and dual armrests for the second row seats. Shingle-style headrests for second and third rows aid vision.

The front seats get one-step heat, which appears to vary in a thermostatic fashion. (According to my glutes.) The second row has full recline capabilities, while the third row gets one stationary setting. The centre row seating can move fore and aft, with both seats using an EZ-Slide system for improved ingress/egress for the rear seats. By the way, humans can actually use the third row.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge
Spare care

I was all set to muddy the chino’s, half-expecting a cable drop rubber biscuit. Lift the rear cargo cover, remove the tire change tool tray, and there lies the space saver. Mazda will change it for you during the first three years of ownership, with no mileage limit.

Cargo embargo

There’s a cavern of possibilities for the Days of Stuff with the 5. Even with the rear 50/50 split row upright, there’s plenty of room for most grocery runs. Flip-up cargo hold-downs are found throughout. The third row folds flat, with the second row seats able to do the same, on an individual basis. There is no standard cargo cover in sight.

The passenger side wall sports a useable cubbie, with a wall-mount cargo lamp. A 12-volt powerpoint is found on the opposite wall. The roof of the 5 appears to possess provisions for future racking.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda5 GT  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge
The mill:

The 153 horsepower 2.3 litre mill is anything but cram-happy in the engine bay, with good access to the accessory belt drive, and major components for the long haul. All fluid levels are clearly marked, positioned well, with upright filler necks. Even headlamp bulbs appear to be worthy of a driveway attempt at changing.

The Verdict:

It’s not that often that I get this excited, because it’s not that often that manufacturers seem to listen to what people need. Not only is the 5 jam-packed with sensible cargo solutions, it doesn’t penalize you for all this thought with a price point that screams ‘third mortgage’. Get one. Five stars.

Next week; 2008 Lexus GS450h

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