Most family vehicles are easily categorized – sedan, minivan, SUV or crossover. Every once in a while, however, a family vehicle comes along that is so innovative and original, it defies assignment into any automotive segment. One such example is the 2012 MAZDA5, a six-passenger vehicle that perfectly blends the space and practicality of a minivan with the style and sporty handling of a hatchback.
With a completely fresh redesign for 2012, the MAZDA5 (MSRP $19,345) is offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models. Perhaps the most significant characteristic that separates the MAZDA5 from its competitors in any segment is its exceptional agility and handling prowess. From back roads to city streets, the MAZDA5 behaves like a well-tuned hatchback. It can be easily maneuvered in tight spaces and can fit where most minivans and utility vehicles can’t.
With two sliding rear doors that can be operated with one finger, the MAZDA5 welcomes all occupants with ease. Once inside, all six passengers will appreciate the theater-style seating design that sets each row a little higher than the one in front of it for a commanding view from any seat.
The MAZDA5 also boasts up to 44.4 cubic feet of storage space with large, hidden storage compartments under the fold-forward second-row seat cushions, and a foldout storage tray with cupholders and a cargo net that sits between second-row captains’ chairs that recline and slide.
Even third-row occupants have plenty of space with easy access thanks to the one-touch fold-forward feature of the second-row seats. The third row has 50/50-split/folding functionality and the second-row seatbacks fold completely flat without having to remove the headrests, enhancing versatility and making cargo hauling effortless.
The 2012 MAZDA5 gains extra muscle in the engine department from the previous generation, upping displacement from 2.3 liters to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant good for 157 hp and 163 lb/ft of torque. The added power of the 2.5-liter comes at no weight penalty and is equally as fuel efficient as the previous engine, boasting 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
Sport models feature a six-speed manual transmission, and both the Touring and Grand Touring models come with a five-speed automatic (optional on the Sport) with Mazda Active Adaptive Shift protocol also found on the RX-8 sports car. The adaptive shifting system uses automatic throttle downshifts when the accelerator is pegged; when the car is under heavy braking, the transmission automatically downshifts for added engine braking.
Mazda engineers incorporated an Electronic Hydraulic Power Assist Steering system that takes load off the engine for greater fuel efficiency while delivering a more positive, responsive driving experience.
Another efficiency benefit comes from the completely refreshed exterior appearance of the MAZDA5, which was designed with the signature Mazda “Nagare” flow concept – its first use on a production Mazda. Nagare emulates the powerful flow of nature, like wind and water, to create a fluid body design that’s exceptionally aerodynamic and elegantly stylish. With a drag coefficient of only 0.30, fuel efficiency is maximized while cabin noise at freeway speeds is kept to a minimum.
Sport models come generously equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, auto-off headlights, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote keyless entry and a six-speaker, CD/MP3 audio system with auxiliary input.
Touring models tack on sporty touches like 17-inch alloy wheels, rear liftgate spoiler, foglamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shiftknob, Bluetooth® hands-free phone and audio and a trip computer.
The Grand Touring offers luxury features like Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, a power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, leather-upholstered and heated front seats, heated side mirrors and an in-dash six-disc CD changer with SIRIUS Satellite Radio capability.
Every MAZDA5 comes with a suite of standard safety features that includes an Antilock Braking System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control System and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags and three-row side air curtain bags are also standard. As an added safety feature, the 2012 MAZDA5 offers a Brake Override System that prioritizes the brake pedal over the accelerator should both be pressed simultaneously.
With a unique blend of style, handling, fuel efficiency, safety and conveniences such as sliding doors and customizable seating arrangements, the MAZDA5 is equally at home as a family vehicle or as a machine for people with active lifestyles. Stop in today for a test drive of the 2012 MAZDA5 and you’ll quickly learn why so many people are choosing it.