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2012-2017 Mazda5: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Before it became a premium brand focused on SUVs and crossovers, Mazda was offering a small six-seater minivan that was a good option for young families looking for an affordable ride … provided they had a limited need for space!

Could the Mazda5 be a suitable vehicle for your family? That’s a good question. A competitor to the Dodge Journey, Kia Rondo and Chevrolet Orlando, the Mazda5 has gone through two generations, the latest being made between 2012 and 2017. Here’s what you need to know about it …

Designed for the Family

First, the Mazda5's overhaul was not dramatic, but it was enough to reposition the model advantageously in a category that was growing fast at the time. Its 4.58-metre length and its 2.75-metre wheelbase are comparable to a current CX-5, but its height is almost 7 centimetres shorter and its width is narrower by—hold your breath—35 centimetres!

Photo: David Miller

The second and third rows are accessible via sliding doors—a clear advantage for minivans in parking lots. However, anyone bigger than a child must be careful not to bump their head when entering through those doors!  

As a family vehicle, the Mazda5 typically seats two adults in the front and three or four youngsters in the back, where it's a bit cramped. The same goes for cargo space: the trunk's volume is a meagre 113 litres when all the backrests are up, and it only increases to 858 litres when you fold down the third row, which can’t be done with the second, unfortunately. If we compare that to the CX-5 once again, the latter could be loaded with 875 litres of luggage in the trunk alone!

Photo: David Miller

Barely Enough Power

Under the hood, the only engine available in the latest Mazda5 was a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder producing 157 horsepower. It’s limited for day to day driving, and not enough if the vehicle is filled with passengers. With either the six-speed manual or the five-speed automatic transmission, average fuel consumption is between 9.5 and 10 L/100 km. Nothing too impressive here (SKYACTIV technology not available), but for a three-row vehicle, that’s not bad.

The Mazda5 was offered in two trims: the basic GS, and the better equipped and sportier GT. Good examples of the latter are easier to find on the market today.

On the road, this minivan’s driving dynamics feels a lot like that of a car. By the way, it used the same platform as the Mazda3. The steering is enjoyable, and the ride comfort isn't too stiff.

Photo: Mazda Canada

While there’s plenty of storage in the cabin, including a folding tray with cup holders in the second row, we noticed a lack of legroom in the front, and the presence of hard plastics in several places.

You’ve been warned. Now a family test drive is in order to make sure that everyone will like the pre-owned Mazda5 you’re interested in. Good luck!

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