Reviews

2012 Mazda 5 Driving Impressions


The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the Mazda 5 provides just enough power and torque to get the job of family transporter done, with not much more available.

A 6-speed manual transmission is offered on Sport versions for the few who want it, but the more popular automatic, with 95 percent of sales, is a 5-speed, not a 6-speed, which means the highway fuel economy suffers and the cruising noise level goes up accordingly. The engine performed smoothly and quietly.

The new front seats are comfortable, cosseting and supportive, with cool contrasting stitching on upper models. The second-row captain's chairs slide, recline and fold flat, opening up all kinds of passenger comfort and storage possibilities. The thick steering wheel is pleasant to hold onto, and the Mazda 5 is made more comfortable with a combination of a tilt/telescope steering column and adjustable seat height. Interior function was excellent, but lacking a USB port and an iPod hookup, although wireless Bluetooth telephoning and Bluetooth audio streaming are standard on Touring and Grand Touring models, respectively (Mazda says up to seven phones can be paired with the system). The six-speaker sound system sounded very good when the volume was cranked up.

The suspension underneath is conventional, with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear suspension, and in the redesign, the engineers have created quicker steering response, a much flatter ride through corners with quicker-acting shock absorbers, and faster-reacting, more progressive brake and throttle action that makes the Mazda 5 more fun and more comfortable to drive quickly. The steering uses a combination of electric and hydraulic assist, and it feels connected to the tires and the road. Although the chassis is carried over from the 2010 model, the body has a larger D-pillar, more welds, wider metal overlaps and reinforcements in it for increased crash safety, which also aids in good handling.

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