Mazda 5 Minivan: The Truly Mini Van

A Girls Guide To Cars | Mazda 5 Minivan: The Truly Mini Van - Mazda 5
The 2014 Mazda 5: A mini minivan

I’ve seen them scooting around town and known a few people who drive them who are devotees, so I wanted to understand the mystique of the Mazda 5: a small-scale minivan that has the agility, MPG and size of a mid-sized sedan but the cargo and passenger capacity of a minivan.

And that’s it in a nutshell: the benefits of a minivan without the size.

All The Glory, None of the Hulk: The Minivan Reinvented, Refined, Reduced.

We spent a week in the 2014 Mazda 5 and, now we get it. Mazda took the idea of a minivan and scaled it down, both in size and in cost. This car has all the features you need, but to keep the price and size down, some features are not as whiz-bang as in other minivans. There is no touch screen option, sliding doors are manual rather than pushbutton and seats fold flat rather than into the floor.

But at this price and fuel savings—$21,000 and 25 MPG—the Mazda 5 delivers a lot of wow for the money. And, if you opt for the fully loaded version, which includes leather seating and a rear DVD system, the price tops out at about $25,000.

Mazda 5 Minivan

As crazy as it sounds, the Mazda 5 is perfect for two moms, four kids and three dogs (and there’s still room for our beach gear)

Social On Wheels

The Mazda 5 is what I think of as a social car: it seats 6 so there’s room for kids, dogs and family. Its interior space is intimate enough that conversation between front and third row passengers is easy, and it’s agile enough that it’s at home in the suburbs or the city. The third row had ample space, and the center row seats are adjustable so passengers can make themselves comfortable.

And in comparison to other minivans? It’s nearly as long, but shorter and narrower, making it easier to maneuver and park.

The Magic of Captain Chairs and Sliding Doors

The front seats and center row seats in the Mazda 5 are captain chairs. In our family, we call these peace-makers: no one is touching anyone else; everyone has an armrest, and the seats are more comfortable than bench seats.

Mazda 5 Minivan

Sliding doors for easy access for all passengers (and no denting the doors of neighboring cars in parking lots!)

And, third row passengers can easily pass through the center seats to the back row without having to push seats forward and figure out where to put their feet to get in. Never mind getting back out of the car!

Both sides of the car have second row sliding doors, a big yay. No more reminding your kids not to ding the car next to you when getting in and out of the car, and in the garage it’s much easier to manage.

Mazda 5 Minivan’s Smart Storage

With all those people and the van’s small size, storage is a premium, but Mazda has thought about this, too. There is a lot of flexible storage, including third row seats that fold down (a 50/50 fold) for 44 cubic feet of cargo space; center row seats that have storage under the seat cushion; and a table with cup holders that folds out of the center row seat between and rests between the center row captains chairs.

There is also a nice little niche below the center console that is perfect for phones or change, and a shelf above the glove box that also is good for holding small items.

Mazda 5 Minivan

The back shelf behind the third row is great for a few groceries, or a few smallish duffel bags

The van also comes with a roof rack option. This is great for larger families who might use the car for travel. There’s only enough room behind the third row for a few small items like grocery bags, duffel bags or a set of golf clubs; but a roof rack would hold plenty of luggage and gear, and the Mazda 5’s smallish stature means a roof rack is easy to reach.

The Perfect Handbag Spot—A Big YAY

The front seat area of the Mazda is nicely laid out. There are controls on the steering wheel; the ‘center stack’ climate and music controls are easy to figure out; and the gear shift is at the base, not on the floor. This frees up space between the front seats for—we love this the most—a perfect place to put your handbag. Mine tucked neatly into the spot, which is where the parking brake is, too. Since you don’t need that while you’re driving, it’s ideal for a handbag.

Mazda 5 Minivan

Holy wow: Look where my handbag sits! Right where it should be: Next to me, securely between the front seats. Just in front of my handbag are a charge port, a USB port (media only) and a convenient shelf that holds my phone

The Basic Model Is Just Fine; Fully Loaded, All The Better

The model we drove was a bit basic: it had cloth seats, a manual transmission (which was fun to drive) and few amenities. But, at $21,000, who can complain?

If I were buying this car, I would go for the top of the line, which adds heated leather seats, a moon roof, a rear DVD entertainment system (because when my teens are licensed to drive I’m going to sit in the back and catch up on Orange Is The New Black) for passenger comfort.

I’d also add a rear view camera (which will be mandatory starting in 2016) and remote start to get the car comfy on hot or cold days.

Adding all those amenities brings the price all the way up to $25,000. Sweet.

Mazda 5 Minivan

The flexible seating accommodates four, five or six passengers, or cargo

What We Loved About the Mazda 5 Minivan

  • Roomy, comfortable cabin
  • Seats 6
  • Handbag storage
  • Sliding side doors
  • Small, agile size
  • Center row captains chairs that slide
  • Well designed front cabin area
  • Sliding center row seats
  • 22 MPG city/28MPG highway (we averaged about 25 MPG)

What You Need to Know

  • Sliding doors are manual only
  • Touch screen infotainment not an option
  • Two power ports; One up front and
    Mazda 5 Minivan

    The “Center stack” in the Mazda 5 neatly arranges everything within reach: Climate and entertainment, with a display at the top

    one in the rear cargo area, and a USB port

  • 44 Cubic feet behind the second row; small storage area behind the third row
  • 3 year/36,000 mile warranty
  • 5 year/60,000 mile power train warranty
  • 3 year/36,000 mile roadside assistance
  • Uses regular fuel

Read Next:

Navigating the Great Outdoors in the 2024 Mazda CX-50

Stylish Sophistication: 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Premium Plus Review

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss