The Mighty Mouse of minivans

2013 Mazda5 GT Review

By Miranda Lightstone
2013 Mazda5 GT Review

Summary Rating: 80%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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The mini-est minivan out there
Sometimes smaller really is better, especially when that reduced size doesn’t skimp on other things such as cargo space, design and practicality. Enter the Mazda5: a “minivan” for the masses that toes the station wagon line and even plays in the hatch zone if you look at it from the right angle.

That’s what makes the 2013 Mazda5 so attractive, in my mind. Here’s a vehicle that’s extremely practical, easy to drive, easy to use as a family vehicle, and fits as comfortably on narrow city streets as it does on open highways. Add to that equation a great starting price ($21,995 for the base GS model), and you’ve got quite an impressive, well-proportioned, cute package.


What is a Mazda5?
I’ve liked the idea of the Mazda5 since it made its first North American appearance in ’06. Known as the Mazda Premacy in Japan (and available there since 1999), the Mazda5 hit North American soil running, and in its first year here, won Best New Multipurpose Family Vehicle at the Canadian Car of the Year awards.

In Europe, the Mazda5 is an MPV and in North America the Mazda5 falls into the mini-minivan category. Here, due to safety regulations, the Mazda5 seats six; however, in Europe and Japan there is a seven-seat option with a jump seat available for the second row.

Technicalities

Available in two trim levels (GS and GT), the 2013 Mazda5 houses the same engine in both: a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder that pushes out a reasonable 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. With two transmission choices (6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic), the Mazda5 may not have a million variations available, but that’s fine because it gets the job done either way.

I had the pleasure of driving the 2013 Mazda5 GT trim level with an automatic transmission, which meant my particular tester started in the $26k range. I had the optional moonroof and the luxury of the Luxury Package (pun intended) which included leather-trim seats.

In my opinion, the price befits the vehicle and everything it offers the user, from amenities to the drive.

2013 Mazda5 GT engine
Available in two trim levels (GS and GT), the 2013 Mazda5 houses the same engine in both: a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder that pushes out a reasonable 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Colin Styker)

Driving the Mazda5

Speaking of the drive: Piloting the 2013 Mazda5 might not be thrilling, but it’s not a chore either. I quite liked the 5-speed automatic transmission with sport shifting (something I wasn’t always fond of, as seen in my review of the 2012 Mazda5). For a few snowier days around town, I used the shift lever to gear down in order to help slow the vehicle down instead of slamming on the brakes. The transmission responded nicely, doing just as I asked without delay.

Speaking of snow, Mazda’s Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System kept the 2013 Mazda5 on track. Unlike the Honda Crosstour I’d had the week before, the Mazda5 seemed to find traction more easily (which perhaps had more to do with tire choice).

And I absolutely love the step-in height of the 2013 Mazda5. It’s ideal for ingress and egress and putting my son in his car seat in the rear second-row passenger seat was a breeze thanks to the height and the sliding doors.

2013 Mazda5 GT side view
Mazda’s Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System kept the 2013 Mazda5 on track. (Photo: Colin Styker)

Ins and Outs of the Mazda5
From the outside, the 2013 Mazda5 has definitely matured over the years – it even has laugh lines now. Running from nose to rear flank, the Mazda5 sports a “moving sands” look that’s attractive to some, not so much to others. My husband wondered what “all the lines were doing there” and turned his nose up at them. While others thought the look was sporty, dynamic and modern. I fall into the latter opinion.

Somehow, Mazda has designed a minivan that breaks the conventional minivan look. Sure, it’s still a tall wagon, but there’s something more to it. The gaping front Mazda grille works well on the Mazda5, and the wide fog-light openings add a sporty touch as well.

Inside, the 2013 Mazda5 continues to impress with a roomy, well-appointed cabin. The captain’s chairs up front and in the second row are comfortable and supportive. Everything is perfectly within reach and well position for all multimedia controls.

In the back, headroom is ample in the 2013 Mazda5, even all the way in the third row where two adults can actually sit (if second row seats are slid forward a bit to accommodate legs). I was happy to be able to stand up in the car while I installed my son’s baby seat.

Cargo space is rather small with the third row up (at only 112 litres), however, fold them down and you’ve got plenty with 426 litres.

2013 Mazda5 GT interior
In the back, headroom is ample in the 2013 Mazda5, even all the way in the third row where two adults can actually sit. (Photo: Colin Styker)

Comparing the Mazda5
With the upcoming 2014 Kia Rondo, I think the Mazda5 has some serious competition coming its way in an otherwise barren mini-minivan segment. Otherwise you start looking at the likes of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan, all of which I feel are too “large” to properly compete with the Mazda5 (for example, the Odyssey’s cargo space behind the third row is nearly eight times more than that of the Mazda5 -- with the seats up).

It stands alone (for now), and that’s perhaps the reason it does so well.

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