Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2015 Mazda5 is a true "mini" van. Based on the last-generation Mazda3, it offers the parking-lot maneuverability of a compact hatchback, but with the sliding doors and cargo flexibility of a van, with good fuel economy, too. While not as roomy as a full-size minivan like the Honda Odyssey, it is considerably cheaper.
You'll Like The 2015 Mazda Mazda5 If...
If the idea of a minivan appeals to you, but you don’t need the added bulk in your life, then the 2015 Mazda5 may just be the ticket. It offers plenty of passenger space, is maneuverable, has good cargo room behind the second row of seats, and decent fuel economy.
You May Not Like The 2015 Mazda Mazda5 If...
While it may be frugal, there’s not a lot of power from that 4-cylinder engine. The Mazda5 is also definitely lacking in minivan-standard creature comforts like navigation and power sliding doors.
The 2015 Mazda5 is carried over from last year, with no new features. However, you’ve missed your chance if you wanted the manual-transmission model, as it’s been dropped this year. EPA city fuel economy also slips one point to 21 mpg.
It may not be fancy inside, but the 2015 Mazda5 gets the job done. There’s room for six passengers, and while the third row is kids-only, the second row offers plenty of leg- and headroom. There are storage areas everywhere, like the clever compartments hidden under the 2nd-row seat cushions. If you’re hauling a bigger load, the second and third rows fold flat, and the low floor makes it easy to load large objects without a high liftover. Still, there’s no denying that even with the leather seats in Grand Touring models, most competitors these days offer nicer surroundings and features.
The 2015 Mazda5 casts a fairly conventional shadow for a minivan, except for the size, of course. However, the surface detailing on this little van is something else. Swooping, wave-like patterns on the sides of the van give it some visual punch, and the wide-mouthed grille treatment will make you wonder what it thinks is so funny all the time. Base Sport models come with plastic wheel covers, while Touring and Grand Touring models get alloy wheels. Grand Touring models get a power moonroof and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
In a world where few even realize that "full-size minivan" is an oxymoron, there’s the 2015 Mazda5 compact minivan. The Mazda5’s compact dimensions and nimble road manners are a breath of fresh air where so many competitors lumber through life. However, instead of thinking about bigger vans like the Honda Odyssey or Dodge Grand Caravan, both of which cost significantly more, the Mazda5 also competes against compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Ford Edge. Compared to them, the little van feels surprisingly nimble, with sharp steering and a firm suspension that’s keeping in line with the Mazda "zoom-zoom" philosophy. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine isn’t exceptionally powerful, but it’s certainly enough to get the job done, even if it occasionally struggles when fully loaded. The 6-speed manual transmission has been dropped this year, a move certain to draw laments from a handful of family-toting enthusiasts, but few others.
For 2015 the Mazda5 Sport carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $22,000. However, we suggest skipping over that base model and starting at the $23,100 Mazda5 Touring, which offers more standard features. The Grand Touring model is about $25,500, and if you can make the stretch, you’ll get leather seats and a few other features to go along with it. Most minivans start at thousands more, including the similarly sized Ford Transit Connect Wagon. Larger vans like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are closer to $30,000. About the only van close to the Mazda5 in price is the Dodge Grand Caravan, which also begins just shy of $21,000. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2015 Mazda5. Down the road, the Mazda5’s resale value is predicted to be about average.
The base 2015 Mazda5 Sport is fairly Spartan by today’s standards. It has cruise control, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, manual driver’s seat with height adjustment, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD system with USB and auxiliary inputs, but no Bluetooth, which is pretty surprising for anything costing more than $20,000 these days. Touring models do get Bluetooth, as well as backup sensors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Grand Touring models up the comfort factor with leather upholstery, a power moonroof, heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers and driver’s-seat lumbar support.
The 2015 Mazda5 can be outfitted with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system featuring a 7-inch monitor and two wireless headsets. There’s also remote engine start, and an available rearview mirror with a compass and a HomeLink remote transmitter for opening garages and gates. However, if you want a navigation system, you’ll have to get a portable Garmin unit from the dealership, or just get a $30 suction-cup mount for your smartphone. Dealer-supplied accessories also include roof racks to carry everything from luggage to a kayak.
FLEXIBLE INTERIORConsidering that the Mazda5 doesn’t take up much more room than a compact sedan, the fact that it can carry so much inside is remarkable. There’s 44.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, more than most compact SUVs. Alternatively, it can carry six people.PRICEThe base price on the 2015 Mazda5 is right around $22,000, making it one of the least expensive 3-row vehicles you can buy. Even the fully loaded Grand Touring model is far below $30,000.
Under the Hood
There’s only one drivetrain option for the 2015 Mazda5: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot of power, and subsequently, the Mazda5 won’t win many drag races. However, it’s good enough for day-to-day use. The 5-speed automatic transmission is the only one available this year, as last year’s available 6-speed manual has been dropped from the Sport model. The 5-speed automatic isn’t exactly state-of-the-art in a world where 6-speeds and continuously variable automatics are commonplace, but it’s smooth and eager enough. All Mazda5s are front-wheel drive and can run on regular unleaded gasoline, although it’s not quite as thrifty with the gas as you might think.2.5-liter inline-4157 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm163 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg
The 2015 Mazda5 is a compact minivan, combining the utility of sliding doors and flexible seating with the maneuverability of a compact car. With the ability to seat up to six, or haul large loads when you fold the seats down the Mazda5 is also surprisingly fun to drive. Sure, its 4-cylinder engine isn’t particularly powerful, but the sharp steering and lively suspension definitely keep things interesting. About the only competition the Mazda5 has is the Ford Transit Connect Wagon, which has a similar philosophy of offering a lot of van in a small package. However, the Transit Connect costs thousands more than the Mazda.