by Dave and Carolyn
edited by Paul Williams

2007 Mazda5 GT
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Read more of Dave & Carolyn’s comments on the Mazda5 GT:
Week 1

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Dave and Carolyn are making good use of the Mazda5 “Multi-Activity Vehicle.” Unlike some vehicles with a third row seat, the Mazda5’s is usable by adults, rather than being a “children only,” proposition. Not for long trips, however, but it’s definitely a functional resource.

However, with the third seat in use, there is little room for cargo (or pets!), they found. Obviously, this is the size difference between the Mazda5 and a full-size family van coming into play. If you think you’ll frequently be using the three rows of seats, plus you want room for your dog, groceries, bags, then a larger vehicle is the way to go. If your third row seat is only occasionally used, and for shorter journeys, then the Mazda5 becomes quite roomy.

The Mazda5, introduced to Canada in 2006, is still the only vehicle of its type on the market here (the vehicle style is widespread in Europe, where several manufactures have similar models). Powered with Mazda’s ubiquitous 2.3 litre, four-cylinder engine, mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, the Mazda5 eschews grunt for economy. There is seating for six (in Europe they fit seven!) and the sliding doors
while not fully power operated, do have an assist to close them. The Mazda5 is clearly not a minivan in the current sense of the term, but could it offer enough minivan-type qualities to be a viable alternative? It’s pricing – starting at $19,995 and topping out at under $25,000 fully loaded with leather – is certainly a motivator. It even comes with DVD entertainment if you want it.

2007 Mazda5 – Dave’s week two comments

2007 Mazda5 GT
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The Mazda5 is very manoeuvrable (e.g., easy to park) and the driver is afforded very good visibility. The small, triangular front windows right behind the A pillar (in front of the rear view mirrors) allow the driver to see more of the road, and I find this helpful, particularly on narrow roads.

The way the windows are configured on the Mazda5 results in a great deal of sunshine entering the vehicle. It’s nice and bright, but this can be frustrating during particularly sunny days, because the inside of the van tends to heat up quickly. I am surprised that the windows are not tinted. The air conditioner cools down the front half of the van quickly; however, the back of the van remains quite warm (our panting dog likely has some thoughts on this issue). The LCD screen that sits at the top of the centre console displays a lot of information simultaneously. It seems too small to me in this regard. For instance, I think that the clock would be much easier to read if it was not integrated into this screen. Our vehicle is equipped with rain sensing wipers, which seem a bit too sensitive. For example, the wipers turned on several times the other day seemingly because of the wind. Perhaps this is a common quirk re rain sensitive wipers in general? Further, while driving up a hill on this windy day, Carolyn shifted her legs while reaching for something behind her and consequently knocked the gear shifter into neutral – and she is not a big person. Thus, the shifter is precariously placed. Lastly, unlike the three previous minivans, one tends to feels the wind in the Mazda5 – but I did not find this problematic.

2007 Mazda5 GT
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We invited some friends on an outing recently, and this gave us an opportunity to use all of Mazda5’s seats. The two adults who sat in the third row of seats found these seats fairly comfortable, but room for stretching out their arms and legs was limited. They said it was okay for a short trip. With one of the middle seats forward (our daughter’s chair is fixed to the other middle seat), they were able to get in and out of this vehicle (which they spontaneously referred to as a minivan!) reasonably well (it was a bit tight). However, they did not fancy attempting to squeeze between the two middle seats to reach the back seats (that looked a bit too challenging for them). Alas, with the six seats occupied there was very little room for extras (e.g., cooler, baby stuff). Consequently, two of the passengers had to place things on their laps. Our beloved pooch was most definitely excluded from this trip. With the third row seats folded flat, there is quite a bit of storage space. But with six people in the van, one has to find alternatives to storing luggage (etc.) – unlike the Entourage, Sienna, and Odyssey we tested previously. Lastly, and very surprisingly, the Mazda5 seems to be using fuel at a rate similar to the larger minivans we tested previously!

2007 Mazda5 GT: Carolyn’s Week Two comments

After driving the Mazda5 for a couple of weeks I still feel as though I am driving a much smaller vehicle. What I find interesting, though, is that while I do not think the Mazda5 looks like a traditional minivan, other people recognize it as a minivan straight away. For instance, I have twice been surprised by someone asking me, “Is that your minivan there in the parking lot?”

2007 Mazda5 GT
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Regardless of whether the Mazda5 looks like a minivan, I have to say that it does not feel like I am driving a minivan. In fact, I feel as though I am driving a car when I am behind the wheel of this vehicle. This is probably because I am seated lower to the ground in the Mazda5 and the suspension feels tighter; therefore I feel more in touch with the road.

I wish the Mazda5 had a conversation mirror and tinted windows, however, so that I could see my daughter in the back row and so others could not see me breastfeeding or changing her in the back seat. If I owned this vehicle, tinting the windows is something I’d do straightaway. I also wish there were vents in the far back so that my dog, Laila, could get some air on these hot days!

Perhaps the window on the back tailgate could be made to open; this is the case with our Kia Sportage, which is very handy for reaching in and out of the back when attending to our dog. These latter features are important options to consider in purchasing a family vehicle. Let’s face it – while I think that the Mazda5 is a trendy little minivan, it’s still a family vehicle!

While I initially thought there were enough cup holders, I am not so sure now. It seems as though this vehicle could use a few more cupholders and storage containers. It looks as though the side panels in the front driver and passenger seats could be built to house one more cup/bottle holder. In fact, the side panels jut out in a rather deceiving fashion so that when I try to put my water bottle in there I am faced with a wall of plastic! However, there is a lot of storage under the seats in the second row – what a great idea!

2007 Mazda5 GT
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On another note, we went on a family picnic the other day and by the time we finished loading everything and everybody up there was not much room left in the Mazda5 and so I have to wonder if it would be big enough for a family with two children and one dog?

We have to do the final calculations but I am thinking that this minivan is not as fuel efficient as I originally thought; it is likely comparable to the other minivans we have tested so far.

I am very impressed by the exterior styling of the Mazda5; I like the lights on the back tailgate and its sleek design! I also especially like the handling of the Mazda5; it corners and brakes wonderfully. Finally, the Mazda5 is easy enough to park because it does not feel too big (although I have not yet tried to parallel park it!).

Manufacturer’s Web site

www.mazda.ca


Read more of Dave & Carolyn’s comments on the Mazda5 GT:
Week 1

Read all the articles in the Minivan Challenge

Photo Gallery: 2007 Mazda5 GT
Add your own comments

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