Mazda Makes Minivans Cool(ish) With Mazda5

Images courtesy Mazda

How does one go about making a minivan cool?

Mazda makes it a Mazda5.

While more of a “mini” minivan, the 2012 Mazda5 offers what they term “seductive smartness” design elements, unique not only for this segment but any segment close to it.

The Mazda5 was developed in the middle of last decade as the automaker’s answer to dwindling minivan sales and as a replacement for its own MPV model.

Dubbed a multi-activity vehicle (MAV) the Mazda5 is compromise between wagon and van and after spending a week behind the wheel of one I find it offers the perfect blend of style, utility and overall synthesis with modern day-to-day activities.

When developing the current Mazda5, the program team set out to push the edge of the envelope a bit more incorporating hints of Mazda’s Nagare “flow” design language that is inspired by the beauty of nature.

Mazda did not just re-sculpt the exterior for the 2012 model. Engineers gave Mazda5 a slightly larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder MZR engine that can be mated to choice of all-new six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed automatic. The new powertrain teams up to produce 157hp at a lower rpm than the previous 2.3-liter engine produced its peak power while still maintaining 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The Mazda5 arrives in front-wheel drive format and has comfortable seating for six adults over three rows. The second row delivers separate captain’s chairs for added comfort and to help eliminate any “stop touching me” arguments and for further enjoyment offer slide and tilt function. They also can be folded flat for added cargo space.

The third row seats are split 50/50 and can be tipped forward individually or folded flat as well to open up maximum storage space. Mazda5 seating is arranged “theater style” allowing the row behind a bit of a lift allowing for better viewing.

Interior styling also adopts of bit of the Nagare flair giving Mazda5 a driver-oriented design with lines flowing from the cockpit while a sporty look is maintained suggesting the vehicle is meant to be driven.

Make no mistake the 2012 Mazda5 is no RX-8 and don’t sit around waiting for the automaker to deliver a MAZDASPEED version but what the MAV does offer is a vehicle capable of tackling everyday chores in unique style with no mistaking it in the big box parking lot amidst its more traditional competition.

Think of Mazda5 as a Mazda3 hatchback on a larger scale, with sliding second-row doors and with a third row of seats. Pricing starts at $19,345 for a base sport with the manual transmission while our Grand Touring edition came with a final sticker of $24,720.

Mazda calls it “Zoom-Zoom Unexpected.” I call it a good choice.

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