Reviews

2014 Mazda 5 Walk Around

Design of the 2014 Mazda5 is based on the Nagare (flow in nature) design language, and it's the first Mazda model to be designed using this philosophy. Its hallmark is an upside-down pentagon grille up front, mating with a flowing design that reaches over the front fenders and down the sides.

The Mazda5 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 five-point rear window glass, this couldn't be anything but a Mazda, mimicking as it does the Mazda6, RX-8, CX-7, and CX-9, in both its front and rear layouts. This is one car that looks like it's smiling at you.

With these styling cues, the Mazda5 has a bolder and sportier look than the typically slab-sided minivans. The Mazda5 body has been shaped with sculpted sheet metal and a sharply-angled windshield. A rear roof spoiler goes on the Grand Touring version.

The design is not only attractive, but helps to achieve a remarkably low coefficient of drag for a minivan: 0.30. That level of aerodynamic slipperiness helps with wind noise, and also maximizes fuel efficiency.

Interior

The Mazda5 interior is very versatile and can be configured for two, three, four, five, or six occupants, in some 16 different layouts. The second-row captain's chairs flop forward and slide for access to the 50/50 folding third-row bench seat. There's 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 second-row seats can be folded flat without removing headrests.

The instrument panel contains the usual two round gauges, with lights and indicators between the deeply tunneled clusters. A second large, horizontal binnacle in the center of the instrument panel houses the time, temperature, fuel economy, sound system and climate control readouts, with the CD slot below. All told, it's a very pleasingly laid-out sound system control center. A three-dial HVAC control panel at the bottom (automatic climate control for 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. 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. 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.

As for storage, the rated cargo capacity of the Mazda5 is 44.4 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded down. Second-row seats also fold down, for even greater cargo volume.

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