The advantage of the golden mean
With a national average of just over 1.5 children per family, full-size minivans seem rather large for daily use. In a stroke of genius, Mazda has decided to bring the minivan down to a more palatable size, one that meets a family's real needs.
With the falling minivan market, Mazda even thought it wise to eliminate the MPV in favour of the CX-9 SUV and to only keep the 5 in this class. Despite its family calling, however, it remains a true Mazda featuring all the enthusiasm we've come to associate with the brand.
2009 marks the middle of the 5's career, and confident in its success, Mazda is updating the body just a wee bit. Yes, you have to pay very careful attention indeed because the changes are subtle. Basically, the front bumper now wears a quiet smile. The light clusters have been refreshed with a tiny notch where the fenders take over. The tail lights have dropped the circular elements in favour of a vertical setup but have maintained the clear lenses. Topping it off are new, more aggressive standard wheels.
The design is effective both inside and out. However, Mazda could have shown a little more precision in the body assembly. The interior is pleasing to the eye and relatively functional. Mazda has kept the elegant, glossy black plastic that still dreadfully retains your fingerprints at the slightest touch. As with most of the brand's products, there's an overabundance of hard plastics both on the dash and around the cabin.
Space and versatility are usually the two main qualities looked for in a minivan. The 5's reduced size does not handicap it in this department. The passenger compartment is well designed, maximizing storage space by offering nooks such as the one under the second row of seats. Intended for accommodating up to 6 passengers, the 5 proves much more comfortable without the third row of seats, freeing up a lot of cargo space. Otherwise, cargo space is quite limited.
It's easy to climb into, especially for children or rear passengers. It features sliding doors instead of conventional ones, allowing you to breathe easier in parking lots when the kids decide to fly out of the car by themselves.
As for comfort, front occupants benefit from comfortable, but slightly hard, seats. The armrests are perfectly adjusted and ideally located. On the down side, the interior experience is marred by the intrusive wind noise: it seems that no matter how fast you drive, you're always accompanied by whistling sounds.
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