Mazda has had a string of notable successes lately. The MAZDA3, CX-7 and CX-9 have all exceeded corporate sales expectations and have planted the Japanese automaker firmly on the map. With the 2008 MAZDA5, Mazda hopes to continue the positive sales trend.
The 2008 MAZDA5 Multi Activity Vehicle (MAV), if marketed correctly, should re-write the small utility segment. Think of it as the ultimate urban people mover. It’s styled like a mini Minivan. It’s not as long as a Honda Odyssey, yet still transports six in comfort. It’s not as powerful as a Toyota Sienna, yet the MAZDA5’s proven 2.3-liter four offers smart acceleration. It’s not as thrifty as a Ford Escape Hybrid, but you can’t put the starting five and the coach in an Escape. Who needs more size when less will do just fine?
Now in its third year of production, the ‘08 model features significant upgrades. The 2008 MAZDA5 got a significant makeover, with a new front fascia, grille, headlights and taillight design. The overall design is athletic, superbly masking its people moving duties.
Inside, much has been updated for the MAZDA5’s Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. Electroluminescent gauges have been added along with second row heating/cooling vents with fan-speed controls, front passenger inboard armrests, second row passenger outboard armrests, and audio auxiliary input jack (full iPod integration is optional). New shift panel and center console designs add a sporty flair. Five-speed automatic or manual transmissions are standard depending on trim level.
Grand Touring models add a security alarm, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, a leather-wrapped shift knob, auto on/off headlights, LED taillights, heated door mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.
For the driver and up to five invited guests, Mazda’s aim was to make the cabin as spacious and comfortable as possible. Three features contribute to the MAZDA5’s roomy interior: a low profile fuel tank, a compact multi-link rear suspension, and a stepped floor. The latter permits excellent legroom for all – especially those sitting in rows two and three. In the third row, legroom is a generous 30.7 inches. In row two, legroom is a comfortable 35.2 inches. Second row seats slide and recline and can be folded flat without removing their headrests. They feature a one-touch lever that automatically tips the seatback forward and slides the cushion to its front-most position to allow access to the third row.
The third row seats are split 50:50. They can be tipped forward individually and folded flat, creating 44.4 cubic feet of storage capacity. Fold the second row and the load floor area is over 63 inches long.
Interior storage space includes an illuminated glovebox, half-liter bottle holders in each front door pocket, a removable tray/net between second row seats, and under second row storage bins.
On the safety front, standard advanced front air bags use sensors to measure seat occupants’ weight, severity of the impact, and distance from seat to dash, before deploying. The front side and side curtain airbags that protect occupants in all three rows of seats are also standard. Additionally, three-point seat belts and head restraints are standard for all six seats.
MAZDA5 pricing begins at $17,995. Nicely equipped models will set you back about $25K. Comparison shop and do the math. If you are a young family who needs a vehicle with room to grow with, or a Boomer with the desire for a fun-to-drive ride with space to spare, you should consider this solid offering from Mazda.