Reviews

2012 Mazda 5 Walk Around

For 2012, Mazda 5 has been given a substantial cosmetic makeover, with every panel on the car replaced by newer and flashier sheetmetal, with almost no chrome plating on the exterior other than the badges. There's a new upper and lower grille design, new hood, new fenders, new lamps, new bumpers and air intakes up front, with body-colored door handles all around, new taillamps, liftgate, and wheels.

The new Mazda 5 has integrated halogen headlamps at the front corners, creating a line that goes up over the front fenders like other Mazdas and then all the way to the rear of the car through the centerline of the body. The lower body is sculpted with an upswept line starting just behind the front tires and extending up and over the rear wheel wells. With the five-point lower grille and the five-point rear window glass, this couldn't be anything but a Mazda, mimicking as it does the Mazda 3, Mazda 6, RX-8, CX-7, and CX-9 in its front and rear layouts. This car looks like it's smiling at you. The Mazda 5 Touring version adds front fog lamps and a rear roof spoiler.

Interior

The Mazda 5's interior decor has been redesigned for more comfort, more storage, and much greater and easier utility inside. The instrument panel, center stack, switches and controls have all been redone for the 2012 models.

As for storage, the rated cargo capacity of the Mazda 5 is 5.6 cubic feet behind the flipping and folding third-row bench seat, with 27.5 cubic feet with the second seat folded flat and 55.4 cubic feet with both rows of seats folded flat.

The interior can be configured for two, three, four, five, or six occupants in some 16 different configurations. The second-row captain's chairs flop forward and slide for access to the 50/50 folding third-row bench seat, and there is hidden storage under each chair, not to mention a standard fold-out tray table and cupholder setup that fits between the two captain's chairs when needed.

The instrument package contains the usual two round gauges with lights and indicators in between the deeply tunneled clusters and is designed together with a second large, horizontal binnacle in the center of the instrument panel to house the time, temperature, fuel economy, sound system and climate control readouts, with the CD slot below, a very pleasingly laid-out sound system control center, and a three-dial HVAC control panel at the bottom (automatic climate control front and rear air-conditioning with pollen filtration is standard equipment). The shifter, whether manual or automatic, resides in the bottom center of the instrument panel.

The three-spoke steering wheel has a thick rim and a thickly padded hub with convenient switches for the sound system on the left, cruise control system on the right, and telephone on the lower left. Taken together, the Mazda 5's interior components add up to a very livable, easy-to-use whole with good quality plastics, a minimum of brightwork, plenty of storage, and high functionality.

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