So we have had our 2008 Mazda5 Touring for a few months now and we have put about 3,000 miles on it. Is it still the car we were so excited about? What new things have popped up? What do we love? Overall, we are still very happy with our purchase and it is everything we were looking for in a car. There are a few minor things, but nothing that is not manageable and overall, as a package, it is still a perfect car for our family of 4.
For those who didn’t read this post, we decided a while ago that the Mazda5 was the perfect car for our family. We live in the city of chicago, and thus a small car was a big need. We had a 2002 Toyota Camry and while nice, it was a problem with 2 car seats and a friend: we had to squeeze someone in between the car seats, which is not really comfortable by any means or we had to take 2 cars. Not great, especially in the city. So our needs were small car, seating for 6 albeit only short term, and decent gas mileage. And Rebecca wanted it in blue.
The only cars that really fit the niche in the US market were the Mazda5 and the Kia Rondo. Honestly, we didn’t drive the Kia. I decided I didn’t want a Kia. I know that their quality has improved and everything, but I wasn’t ready for that. Not to mention the Rondo is not that attractive. Not that we are so vain, but I wasn’t feeling the Kia.
So onto the Mazda5. We test drove a 2007 and decided we would wait for the 2008s with the new transmission being the primary thing. We told our dealer we wanted a Stormy Blue Touring with the homelink/dimming mirror, the cargo cover, the all season mats, and the rear bumper cover. Sure I could have perhaps got those on my own for cheaper, it wasn’t much cheaper if at all and it wasn’t worth the hassle.
On January 16th, we picked up our car. We loaded up the car seats and went back to living our normal life.
Fast forward a few months to today…. There are a lot of things we really like. The Mazda5 handles like a car, especially compared to the full size minivan crowd. But it feels much sportier than our Camry did too, which I much prefer. Mind you, my 2 other cars are both modified and have stiffer suspensions and I am an instructor for the Audi Car Club, so I know the difference between ‘sports car’ and ‘touring car’, but I can honestly say the Mazda5 is not a slouch. While I haven’t taken it to the track or autox’ed the car (yet?), I have found that sudden steering inputs like that pop up pothole are actually doable and not scary. Much better than the Camry. WAY better than the Toyota Sienna we rented over the holidays. There have been some complaints that it is a bit firm, but it is by no means offensive. But those complaints come from the crowd coming from the Camry or the Buick scene. You’ll know in a 10 min ride if you can’t handle it.
The space is great for us. The Mazda5 is smaller than the Camry was, so city driving is great. We fit in places the Camry wouldn’t, and we feel more nimble doing so. The interior space is great for our family of 4. We can load up the kids, all their associated gear, and go on our way. We haven’t really filled the back yet. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a cave back there, but it is fine for our needs and the wagon form factor allows up to stack up if needed. We have used the 3rd row more than a few times, and while putting 2 adults back there is a bit of a challenge with the 2 car seats in place, it is doable and my in-laws have both ridden back there without complaint. We wouldn’t want to put them back there and start a 500 mile road trip, but a jaunt around town is fine, and that is exactly what we wanted. There are also reports in the press that the front seat space is though on taller people, but I haven’t found it to be a problem. I am 6-1 and I haven’t had a problem with the seating position.
Surprises… The sliding doors. They are VERY nice with the kids. We have a 1 car garage, which is marginally larger than the car. Having the sliders allows us to load the kids in the car in the garage without a problem. We don’t worry about how close the idiot parked next to us got. They are great. The taillights… I am all for technology, and I am really happy with the light output of the LEDs. Nice and bright. And they look pretty good too. I am still surprised at how it is actually fun to drive in the handling department. I was told by Rebecca that I was not to do any suspension mods, so I’ll have to be happy with the stock setup, and I am ok with it.
Minor dislikes… I would like a little better gas mileage. I haven’t actually calculated our real life mileage yet, so I am going off the EPA MPG rating, but I would always like to see a car in the 30s over the high 20s. So that complaint isn’t really based on ownership per se. Sound level in the car is a tiny bit nosier than I would like on the highway. It isn’t intrusive, but it is present, which is surprising given the low cd of the Mazda5 (0.29). It could be the tires. I can tell the engine isn’t as refined as that of my Audi, not that I am surprised, I am in a different price point, but it is still something I notice. It isn’t super fast, but it is more than adequate for driving with the kids. I leave the aggressive driving for life sans kids anyway, so it is not a problem. We can merge without issue and cruise at traffic +10mph without issue.
Major dislike: I had to get the grand touring to get HIDs. Grr. Bluetooth would have been nice too, but not a major point. But heated seats would have been nice. Being a vegetarian, I refuse to get a leather interior, so that ruled out the Grand Touring package. But heated seats and xenons would have been very nice touches.
I would like to see map lights for the 2nd row. I would like to see a pocket on the back of the driver seat. I would like to see a floor mat retainer clip on the passenger floor mat to match the driver side. Having the sunroof go INTO the roof vs. over it would have been nice, but I imagine that is a concession to head room, of which there is a lot and I would be hard pressed to give that up. Again, HIDs as a standalone option would be nice. The center console seems inefficienetly designed, but I have no idea what is in there, so maybe it isn’t. The door cards have no storage, which is odd, but again, I don’t know what is in there, but I would think that the window motor isn’t that large. Factory tint on the rear would be nice (I’ll add that soon as summer sets in). But those are all minor things that are not a big deal and shouldn’t preclude anyone from considering this car.
So overall… in the few months we have really gotten to know the car and I still enjoy it. It looks great. It performs great. It is a great size for us. I am very happy with the purchase and I have no regrets. Would a turbo MazdaSpeed5 be better? Sure. Would I have bought one for an extra $7,000 or so? Would have been a hard sell, especially with the MPG hit I am sure we would have endured. I already have a turbo car, I don’t need one for the family hauler.
The Mazda5 is a great car in a great size for a great price. It should be considered for any family of 3-4 that thinks they need more space but doesn’t want the size of an SUV or a minivan.