The front-wheel-drive Mazda5, which combines the attributes of a people mover and a sport sedan, is powered by a 153-horsepower, 2.3L four-cylinder engine, with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
There are three different models: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Touring and Grand Touring models are only offered with the automatic transmission. The new five-speed automatic has improved fuel economy compared to the former four-speed automatic, with EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 28 highway.
The Mazda5 shares some attributes with sport sedans, including a fully independent suspension, variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering, and big disc brakes on all four wheels with standard anti-lock, plus electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA), two innovations that help assure peak braking in emergency conditions. The steering has electro-hydraulic assistance to combine easy low-speed parking with high-speed stability and road feedback. With a relatively light overall weight of about 3,400 pounds, the Mazda5 has sharp steering response and good maneuverability.
Inside, the Mazda5 is appointed in soft fabric and metallic trim finishes. The mild redesign for 2008 brings the shift lever and center console closer to the driver for more of a cockpit feel.
Like a minivan, the Mazda5 has sliding side doors, which offer easier entry and access than most sport-utility vehicles, especially in tight parking spaces. And it's one of the smallest vehicles to offer third-row seating, with space for six. The second row has an under-seat storage area; there's also a foldout table. The tailgate is also configured for tight spaces, with two stops, including a lower one that keeps the hatch at a position for low garage doors and easier reach.
The Sport model comes well equipped for its low base price, including automatic climate control with a pollen filter and second-row fan-speed controls, alloy wheels, a CD sound system with six speakers, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. The Touring adds a power moonroof, fog lamps, LED taillights, a rear spoiler, side-sill extensions, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an in-dash six-disc changer. At the top of the range, the luxurious Grand Touring gets leather upholstery, heated front seats, an alarm system, a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface, heated door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and manual-leveling HID headlamps. A voice-command DVD-based navigation system is optional.