2006 Mazda5 Touring
The Good :)
Stylish utilitarian design. Flexible cabin space. Easy entry/exit, car like
ride, great visibility.
The Bad :(
Overuse of hard plastic. Bit too much body lean. Lightweight feel of doors
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A rising trend among
automobile manufacturers is to mix elements of traditional vehicles - such
as sedans, SUVs or Minivans - and create a new bread of vehicles. It's
difficult to put a name on this next generation of morphed vehicles. Some
are called Crossovers; others simply have no names. The 2006 Mazda5 is one
such vehicle. We cannot call it a wagon, and we cannot call it a Minivan.
It is a mix of both and Mazda hopes their foresight into how people actually
use their vehicles will win over buyers of traditional cars.
The folks at Mazda are taking
intrepid steps because today's buyer is far more sophisticated and has more
choice than any generation thus far. With changing lifestyles and a greater
emphasis on style and technology, no one wants to be caught dead driving
just any sedan. Minivans may as well be considered dead. Just look at how
poorly the new Mercedes R-Class luxury minivan is doing. The company is
offering a whopping $5,000 off within months of its worldwide launch, a
precedent rarely seen.
So perhaps Mazda may be on to
something at just the right time of declining minivan demand. They have
taken the advice from what customers are actually saying in all those
expensive focus groups that manufactures love to conduct. They seem to be
listening and learning from how people actually use their cars. Mazda
describes the Mazda5 as 'an all-new vehicle that is forever changing
affordable family travel'. With room for six passengers the Mazda5 'offers
a level of versatility never before seen in a sport hatch vehicle'. Combine
this with a responsive engine and a sport tuned suspension, and you just may
have the perfect family vehicle.
The exterior design is
something that would make even a Porsche owner proud. The aerodynamic shape
of the body with aggressive accents can confuse anyone wondering what is
coming at them in the rearview mirror. The front is sharp with large
one-piece cat-like projector headlamps which wrap around to the sides.
The body colored front bumper has a large honeycomb grill that could have
been taken right off the sporty RX-8. The windshield sweeps back steeply
and makes the Mazda5 look like its going fast even when it's standing
still. We loved the recessed fenders as compared to the hood sheet metal. Lower panels are all curved for sporty look with aerodynamic accents. The rear tailgate flips open easily leaving behind large one piece clear taillamps. A sporty touch is presented by way of a spoiler on the top of the rear tailgate and a sleek rear bumper.
The Mazda5 is smaller than a
traditional minivan; it's lower to the ground and much smaller in length and
width. Nevertheless, it features some of the same traits, such as sliding
rear doors, high roofline, second row captain seats and folding third row
seats. The main difference between the Mazda5 and a minivan is how it
drives. The Mazda5 feels more like a car, much more nibble and sporty.
This sporty character is shown in the exterior styling of the 5. A raked
windshield that seems to flow all the way from the tip of the Mazda5 gives you concept car good looks.
The engine used in the Mazda5
is the same as that used in the 3 and 6. The 2.3 liter 16-valve 4-cylinder
engine puts out quite a punch, sufficient enough to propel it from 0-60 in
just 8 seconds. Peak horsepower is 157 at 6500 rpm and torque is rated at
148 lb-ft at 4500 rpm. The sporty 5-speed tyranny and light clutch make
driving a joy in any road conditions. Gone is the heavy clutch and notchy
shifter found in other Mazda vehicles. Variable valve timing and variable
induction help give an EPA mileage of 22/27 city/highway. The Mazda5 is
certified as a passenger car, not a truck, a reason why darkened windows are
not standard in the back rows.
Behind the wheel you forget
that you are in something that looks like a minivan, the feeling is that you
are driving something trendy, and fresh. Mazda's skillful ability to add a
touch of sportiness to its vehicles is what sets it apart from Honda and
Toyota. Steering response is sharp with good road feel coming from large
17-inch wheels on 205/50R tires. The engine responds well to throttle
movements and the brakes are smooth and quiet with good overall feel. Hard
acceleration does not lead to torque steer, as horsepower is not very high.
The Mazda5's ride is smooth and comfortable. There is little wind noise
unless you go into triple digits. Some body lean is evident on curvy fast
roads but to be expected, perhaps thick anti sway bars will do wonders for its
Interior design very practical
and well thought out. The center console and trim on the front doors are in
a soft silver aluminum. This looks both futuristic and fresh. The shift
knob is placed on a pod just below the center console at an angle, instead
of in-between the seats. The design of the controls and buttons reminded us
of the Infiniti G35. The quality of the buttons was very good. All dials
feel good to the touch around the steering wheel and on the doors. The
sunroof is still of the old variety and not as quiet as we would like, fully
open it extends out above the roof. It opens in a 1-touch manner but does
not close by way of 1-touch. There are also 2 separate buttons for lift and
opening. A dial as used on some German makes would be better. Lacking is a
dimming rear view mirror, something you should have for night driving.
The Mazda5 features a
6-speaker CD audio system with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer. The system is
also SIRIUS Satellite radio compatible. Controls are placed closer to the
digital readout on the very top of the center console as in all Mazda
vehicles. In the Mazda5 the layout is workable as the display is just above the buttons you are pushing, whereas in other Mazda vehicles there is quite a distance between the display and the buttons. We could not
find a easy way to plug in a MP3 player and that would be a nice feature in
future models. The leather wrapped steering wheel has both cruise and audio
controls. The wheel can be adjusted both up/down and fore/aft. There is
also a small microphone button to speak directional controls for the
The optional Navigation System
is built into the top of the dash and folds away when not being used. It's
perfectly placed but the quality of the screen is poor. The screen is about
half as bright as those found in an Audi, but the cost of this option is
about the same at $2000. The control unit for the navigation screen sits to
the left of the gear shift knob. It's very clever to place the map controls
closest to the driver rather than far away on the screen. However this
makes it hard for a passenger to use the controls when the driver is
shifting manually. The system can be spoken to however we found this
feature did not work as well as we would like. The central control knob is
also very small so trying to click the enter button, in the center, does not
always work easily. Overall it is a effective system while not the best
offered in any make, however it fits the futuristic look of this car, and is
probably required just for the looks; get it if you get lost often.
The Mazda automatic climate
control works well and keeps the interior at a set temperature quite
nicely. A pollen filter is standard for those suffering from allergies.
In the highest setting it is a bit loud, maybe because of air vents lacking
in the rear portion of the Mazda5. The display for the system is also found
in the small LCD type readout on the top of the dash.
Front row seats are comfortable as they sit
high off the floor giving you a chair like seating position. You also have
good lateral support with normal width to the seats up front. In the second
row you have seats a bit narrower in width and small bolsters on the lower
cushion so you are not held in place quiet as well. They do slide and
recline and have armrests for the inner side of the seat. In the second row
both windows also slide down in the sliding door. The sliding door gives
you a good sized entrance into the 2nd and 3rd rows
and is quite light and easy to use. Lacking in the 2nd row is
storage space in the door, it is hidden either below each seat or you can
use a fold away tray located under one of the seats as well. Also lacking
is an air vent, so you have to wait quite a long time for the cool air to
reach the final 3rd row. With the second and third row folded
flat, by flipping up the 2nd row cushions and lowering the
seatback, you have a 63 inch length for long items.
The third row seats are 2 individual seats
with good width and adequate legroom. When both are being used, they fit
nicely together like a bench seat. Headroom is very good and there are
plenty of windows for an open and airy space. Legroom is adjustable by
moving the 2nd row forward and back. There is a nicely sized
armrest here and cup holders as well. All seats are matching with a cloth
material that is usually used on the roofs of many cars with a ribbed inner
portion, which also matches the trim on the door panels. Although warm and
inviting in cloth, if you have a pet, this material will stick to hair and
never let go. All seats are manual and only the driver's seat is height
adjustable. The passenger seat is set at a good height level however it too
should be adjustable in height for good fit to everyone.
Some of the hard plastic trim as in between
the front seats, and on the door panels should be changed for a more
luxurious feeling inside. The roof paneling is also a fuzzy material that
is very dated now. If this mix and match of materials were improved you
would have a almost perfect car, both useful and practical in everyday
situations with room for when you need to go to Home Depot. We would also
like to point out that a leather wrapped steering wheel, and the automatic
climate control are standard on the Touring models only.
Dual front air bags that sense a crash zone and driver's seat position as well as weight of passengers are featured on the Mazda5. Front side-impact air bags, side air curtain airbags with three-row coverage, "crushable"
brake and accelerator pedal assemblies and front safety-belt pretensioners
with force-limiters are all standard as well.
A 48 month / 50,000 mile
warranty is standard with roadside assistance and a loaner car program so you are not stuck at the dealership. This is a great benefit to buying a Mazda when most Porsche dealers do not even give a loaner car. 95% of all parts come from Japan and the final assembly point is Hiroshima, Japan.
There is truly very little not
to like about the Mazda5. The fact that Asians and Europeans are using cars
like this a lot more than us Americans should be reason alone to make the
switch. The Mazda5 is configurable in so many ways, making room in a small
area for many different ways of life. It rides well and is quiet as well as
fun to look at and be in. We highly suggest this before buying a wagon,
minivan, or suv; if only it was a hybrid or diesel.