2014 Mazda Mazda5 Grand Touring Review
Cruises like a car, carries like a crossover.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 8th, 2014
The Mazda5 isn't the first Mazda you think about. Typically, passenger cars like the Mazda3 or the Mazda6 first come to mind, or if you're a crossover fan, perhaps you think of the CX-5. Either way, there is another type of Mazda. It's a minivan, it's called the Mazda5, and it's one of the best vehicles that Mazda currently makes. For what it is, it's perfect, and it's capable of going head-to-head with the Honda Odyssey, a minivan that many consider the greatest ever made - or, at the least, the most ubiquitous.
It's all sorts of simple in here. Most of the interior is covered in hard-to-the-touch (but easy-to-clean) plastic. The infotainment system consists of a single small LCD strip above a traditional cluster of buttons and dials. The HVAC controls are big, chunky knobs. The center-console storage lacks a lid. Everything is easy to clean, and even easier to access. Of course, that means it lacks the clever storage compartments that the Odyssey has, but it's still a space that a family can make its own.
The middle-row captain's chairs are comfortable enough, especially with the leather seats found on the Grand Touring trim, Mazda5's fanciest. The third row is suitable for adults, so long as the trips are short. One coworker quipped, "Deep vein thrombosis won't kick in for a couple hours." That's some resounding praise, if you ask us.
Storage space is not great with the third row up (the storage space is deep enough for a full backpack and that's it), but if you toss the third row down - an easy feat - then you've got plenty of space to store all sorts of crap you won't look at for months at a time.
The only hint that the Mazda5 is getting a little old is its front fascia. As the Mazda5 is based off the old, pre-2014 Mazda3's chassis, that means both cars share the same visage. Mazda has since replaced the Mazda3, which leaves the Mazda5 looking a tad dated.
That said, the overall shape of the Mazda5 is still quite nice, leaning more towards car than crossover. The ride height is nice and low, the wheels aren't on tires with hilariously large sidewalls; the whole package comes in well under six feet in total height, giving it some of the easiest roof access in its class.
On the Road
Whether you're driving safely on account of the children, or whether you're blasting through traffic like you're late for your own wedding, the Mazda5 makes for a quality driving experience. Like we said earlier, the body sits low on the chassis, giving it a ride quality that's very, very close to the Mazda3 on which the van is based. It's better than any other minivan in terms of handling - which is not only good for single hot-shoes with nothing but surfing gear in the back, but also for parents and their spawn, who may one day need to make emergency swerves to avoid an accident. The 157-horsepower four-pot isn't exactly ready to get up and go at a moment's notice, but it provides enough push for highway passes and the like. The gas mileage isn't stellar, coming in at sub-30 mpg on the highway, but if you keep your foot out of it, it's easy to hit the stated numbers (unlike some other minivans).
It was also very refreshing to be driving a new car that isn't filled with complicated screens. There were buttons, and they always worked. No complaints there. Plus, when your kid throws an errant superball at the dashboard and it doesn't break a $2,000 navigation system, that's a good thing.
The Mazda5 is a great minivan - one of the best, actually. It's a no-frills experience that retains the idea that minivans should handle more like cars and less like body-on-frame pickup trucks. It's an all-around champ.
Of course, there are problems with it. It's starting to look pretty old, the interior materials are reminiscent of all the sharp-edge-free plastics in a sanitarium, and the gas mileage numbers aren't the greatest. That said, most of this will likely be hammered out in the next generation Mazda5. If you want to wait for all of that, go ahead - we're very sure you won't be let down. However, if you want a great deal on a plain-Jane minivan that will carry your children until they have children of their own, get to the dealership before summer is up.
Specs & Price
Engine: 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 157 hp / 163 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 22 city / 28 highway
Base Price: $24,670
As Tested: $25,540 (incl. $795 destination)
Available Features: Rear-seat DVD entertainment, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Mazda MAZDA5, click here: 2014 Mazda MAZDA5.