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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 closing.  Sunroof.

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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 handling.

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 navigation system.

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.

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 17,739 18,950
Destination 720 720
NV1   Navigation 1,720 2,000
DVD   DVD Entertainment System 960 1,200
1AT   4 Speed Automatic Transmission 810 900
RSE   Remote Engine Start 280 350
SAT   SIRIUS Satellite Radio 344 430
MRH   Auto-Dimming Mirror w/Compass and Homelink 200 250

 

  2006 Mazda MAZDA5
Touring 4dr Minivan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
2007 Dodge Caliber
SXT 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
2006 Mitsubishi Outlander
LS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
2006 Pontiac Vibe
GT 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 6M)
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara
Premium 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 5M)
Pricing MAZDA5 Caliber Outlander Vibe Grand Vitara
MSRP $18,950 $15,425 $18,499 $20,105 $19,899
Invoice $17,739 $14,447 $17,440 $18,999 $19,103
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Drivetrain 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 10 yr. / 100000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 7 yr. / 100000 mi.
Roadside 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Rust 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 7 yr. / 100000 mi. 6 yr. / 100000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 V6
Base Engine Displacement 2.3 liters 1.8 liters 2.4 liters 1.8 liters 2.7 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 157 hp @ 6500 rpm 148 hp @ 6500 rpm 160 hp @ 5750 rpm 164 hp @ 7600 rpm 185 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 148 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm 125 ft-lbs. @ 5200 rpm 162 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 125 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 184 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
Independent Suspension four-wheel four-wheel four-wheel front four-wheel
Stabilizer Bars front and rear front and rear front and rear front and rear Being Researched
Tires and Wheels MAZDA5 Caliber Outlander Vibe Grand Vitara
Tires P205/50R17 V
all season
P215/60R17
all season
P225/60R16
all season
P205/55R16
all season
P225/70R16
all season
Sunroof power glass power glass - Optional Not Available power glass - Optional Not Available
Air Filtration interior air filtration interior air filtration - Optional Not Available interior air filtration interior air filtration
Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror electrochromatic - Optional electrochromatic - Optional Not Available Not Available Not Available
Video DVD player - Optional Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Navigation System DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Turning Circle 34.8 ft. Being Researched 37.4 ft. 36.7 ft. Being Researched
City 22 mpg. Being Researched 22 mpg. 25 mpg. 18 mpg.
Highway 27 mpg. Being Researched 28 mpg. 32 mpg. 23 mpg.
Length 181.5 in. 173.8 in. 179 in. 171.9 in. 176 in.
Width 69.1 in. 68.8 in. 68.9 in. 69.9 in. 71.3 in.
Height 64.2 in. 60.4 in. 66.3 in. 62.2 in. 66.7 in.
Weight 3333 lbs. 3039 lbs. 3241 lbs. 2780 lbs. 3452 lbs.
Wheel Base 108.3 in. 103.7 in. 103.3 in. 102.4 in. 103.9 in.
Ground Clearance 5.5 in. 7 in. 8.3 in. 5.9 in. 7.9 in.
Front Headroom 38.9 in. 40 in. 38.9 in. 40.6 in. 40 in.
Rear Headroom 39.2 in. 38.9 in. 38.2 in. 39.8 in. 38.2 in.
Front Shoulder Room 55.5 in. 54.2 in. 56.1 in. 53.2 in. 56.3 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 55.6 in. 53.4 in. 54.4 in. 52.6 in. 54.9 in.
Front Hip Room 52.9 in. 52.2 in. 51.5 in. 51.7 in. 55.5 in.
Rear Hip Room 58.3 in. 49.6 in. 51.8 in. 47.8 in. 44 in.
Front Leg Room 40.7 in. 41.8 in. 42.3 in. 41.8 in. 41.3 in.
Rear Leg Room 35.2 in. 35.6 in. 35.5 in. 36.3 in. 37.2 in.

 

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