The 2015 Mazda 5, Reconsidered

2015 Mazda 5 front 3/4 view
2015 Mazda 5.
Three and a half years ago, I wrote a glowing review of the Mazda 5 minivan. As with most Mazdas, I wondered why it didn't sell as well as vehicles from Toyota, Nissan and Honda.  I now know the answer.

In that summer of 2011, I drove the Mazda 5 in town, generally alone, occasionally with one, two or three other passengers for short, cross-town trips.  It was all the minivan we needed and made the full-sizers like the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest seem ridiculously large by comparison.

Map of the I-5, CA 20 and US 101 route from Folsom to Ukiah
Map of the I-5, CA 20 and US 101 route from Folsom to Ukiah, California (source: Google Maps)

This time, it was six of us, yours truly, Navigator, her two daughters, and two Schnauzers, on a three-day holiday weekend run from Folsom, east of Sacramento, to Navigator's hometown of Ukiah...a post-Christmas visit with Navigator's relatives. 344 miles roundtrip, plus incidentals.

2015 Mazda 5.
Discovery one: The Mazda 5 just...only just...was able to accomodate two small dogs, four people and the things they needed for a three-day weekend with the third row folded down.  If this had been a week's vacation, or if we needed to transport just one other person, something would have had to give.

Discovery two: With four on board (and three of them being slender young women who don't add that much weight to the vehicle), the 157-horsepower 2.5-liter four loses a lot of its enthusiasm for passing maneuvers and mountain grades.  There was a lot more noise being made than there was forward momentum.

Interior view of 2015 Mazda 5.
2015 Mazda 5 interior.
Discovery three: The Mazda 5 has surprisingly little usable space for odd objects.  The door pockets are narrow and shallow as is the console, that little rectangular cubby below the gear-shift, that odd shelf-like space above the glove box...pretty much everything.  And when four people are spending six hours of their three-day weekend on the road, stuff accumulates.

It pains me to report all this, because I still very much like the Mazda 5 when I'm using it as a grocery-getter or a to-and-from-work commuter.  The Grand Touring tester had a base price of $24,770, came with everything you could ask for, apart from commodious storage spaces (full list here), leaving a rear bumper guard ($75) as the lone option.  With $795 delivery, processing and handling fee, the Mazda 5 rang in at a very reasonable $25,640...or about 15 grand less than what most of the Siennas, Odysseys and Quests I see are going for.  And none of them can get close to the 21 city/28 highway EPA estimate.  Though, truth be told, with four aboard and a chunk of the trip on the winding two-way that runs by Clear Lake, we didn't either.

But Navigator and I realized that if we were parents of more than one young child, or wanted to travel the way we do (regular TireKicker readers know of our fondness for roadtrips), the Mazda 5 simply wouldn't cut it. And it looks like we aren't the only people in America who came to that realization.  Mazda will pull the plug later this year, in favor of a new small crossover, the CX3. Only 14,000 Mazda 5s sold in 2013. In its best year, only 22,000 found homes.  Size (or at least usable space) matters.