The 2012 Mazda5 is a great family vehicle that fits well in an active lifestyle setting. It also handles well and gets good fuel economy.
Launched as a 2006 model, the Mazda5 has a stylish design with sliding rear doors, a unique combination of flexible seat arrangements and a high level of safety.
The new Mazda5 incorporates Mazda’s Nagare “flow” design language inspired by “the beauty of nature and the forces of wind and water.” Mazda previously has featured Nagare design only on concept cars and this marks the first time it has been used in a production vehicle.
The “flow” begins at the front grille and passes smoothly over the headlights, hood and fenders, then continues over the sides of the body, rear combination lights and tailgate in a continuous stream. The mesh pattern five-point grille shares the Mazda family face and the hood is higher than the previous generation.
Riding on a 108.3-inch wheelbase, the Mazda5 is roomy and comfortable, yet surprisingly compact. The long wheelbase allows for excellent passenger space and the short front and rear overhangs enable better handling and parking ease. Despite the long wheelbase, it is very agile, turning a circle in just 36.7 feet, and it has a low drag coefficient of 0.30 for aerodynamic efficiency.
Manually operated sliding rear side doors continue as a feature of the new Mazda5. The doors can be operated with one finger and they hug the sides of the vehicle when open to create a wide opening for easy entry and exit to the rear seats, even for third row passengers.
The Nagare design language continues into the vehicle’s interior, from the lines above the dials and along the instrument panel to the stitch pattern in the seats and the design of the seat fabric. The instrument panel flows from the cockpit to the center panel and on to the passenger-side dashboard in a rippling effect. The cockpit is stylishly designed and sporty, with twin deep-set gauges, chrome plating, silver-trimmed control knobs and genuine leather wrapping the steering wheel and gearshift knob.
The interior is very flexible and can be configured for two, three, four, five or six passengers. The second row has separate captain’s chairs that slide and recline and can be folded flat without removing the headrests. They also have a one-touch lever that automatically tips the seatback forward and slides the cushion to its front-most position to allow access to the third row.
Changes continue under the skin, too, as the new Mazda5 is powered by a 2.5-liter MZR I4 engine, (the same engine in the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-7) and it can be paired with either a manual or automatic transmission.
The MZR I4 engine is standard in all three models — Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Pricing starts at $19,195.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.