After being spoiled with a week long test drive of the Kia Sorento, I was given a Powderpuff Blue Mazda 5 to try out the following week.
To say I hated it would be an understatement, and anyone who doubted my sincerity when I promised brutal honesty in my reviews, here’s proof.
Based on my experience, the Mazda 5 derives its name from the number of horsepower its engine is capable of cranking out. While its spec sheet states that it produces 157 horsepower, the horses under my hood seemed to be one clumsy step away from the glue factory. Perhaps being forced to carry the weight of an entire person put too much stress on the gears, but I found it to be rather sluggish. If pressed for a speed estimate, I’d say it does 0-60 in about Tuesday.
From front to rear and everything in between, the only way to really describe this vehicle is “cute.” While this may be fine for some people, when I drive, I don’t want cute. I want a vehicle that’s capable of making me look and feel a little bit badass. It’s hard enough to look any bit badass in a minivan but it’s downright impossible when you climb behind the wheel of a mini-minivan.
My first impression of the Mazda 5 when I pulled up was that it seemed a little small for something touted as the “Grand Touring” edition. When I hear Grand Touring I expect to see something capable of carrying enough luggage for a tour. I suppose you could load the roof rack with all of your gear but based on its already low profile, you’ll probably weigh down the springs to where you’d be sparking and gouging your way from Point A to Point B.
In consideration of time, I’ve reduced the litany of reasons why I’ll never buy this car to the five most frustrating.
1. THE SEATING FANTASY
I was told that the vehicle could seat six thanks to having three rows of seats but we didn’t find this to be accurate. As a family of five, we avoided any excursion together because we just couldn’t fit.
I could barely get myself behind the steering wheel and I found it absolutely impossible to sit anywhere else in the vehicle. This is not a car for tall people. Typically, even in smaller cars like Honda Civics, Ford Pintos (don’t ask), and Chevy Camaros, I can sit in the front seat if I slightly twist my legs and then shove them beneath the dashboard. In the Mazda 5, if I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t going, because I’d have to completely violate my limbs and fold my joints in unspeakable ways to do so.
Aside from Kamryn, who’s only 4 years old, no one could sit comfortably in the vehicle. Although, in the Mazda 5′s defense, our children were born with legs, and this may not have been something the Mazda engineers considered.
2. THE WUSSIEST HORN NOT ATTACHED TO A TRICYCLE
If I want someone to move out of my way, I need to be able to startle them with a car horn that’s reminiscent of a train whistle or an air raid siren. I want something that screams, “HEY! I’m HERE! Now MOVE IT!” Not something that whispers, “Pardon me sir, but could I possibly trouble you to slide over ever so slightly unless of course you find it the least bit inconvenient?”
I want something intimidating. Loud. I want something that causes heart palpitations when people hear it bearing down on them. But because the inspiration behind the Mazda 5′s horn came from a mouse fart, it just can’t command the road the way I need it to. As best I can describe it, the Mazda 5′s horn sounds eerily like the Road Runner. Only not nearly as menacing.
3. CRUMBTRAP POTENTIAL
As parents of kids ranging in age from 0 to 100 will tell you, car seats are notorious for trapping everything from cheese crackers to raisins to chip shards. I don’t care if the seats are made from finely sanded and lacquered marble, food WILL get trapped in, under, and between the seats.
The Mazda 5′s seats, at least in the Grand Touring model we drove, are made of a mesh-like material that has hundreds of little holes. Much like an athletic jersey or pinney. While this design gives the seats a pleasant enough futuristic appeal, savvy parents will see them for what they are.
4. THE MOST UNCOOL LOW RIDER ON THE PLANET
We’re not an overweight family. While I weigh nearly 250 pounds, I’m 6’7″. The weight just comes from the height. Well, and also from the Twinkies. In contrast, my wife only weighs (edited for survival) pounds, and our children ring in at 110, 80, and 45 pounds respectively. Despite being average in weight, and even though we had no gear in the vehicle, we still managed to bottom out when exiting our driveway.
Like taking weights off a miner’s balance scale, I kicked my passengers out of the car one at a time to gauge its clearance threshold. The only time we didn’t scrape the lip in our driveway is when Kamryn and I were the only two people left in the car. Vehicle cuteness aside, it makes for a rather awkward outing when you have to ask your wife and kids to meet you the street.
5. WHERE’S THE BEEF?
Because of its rather small size, I found the car to be easily shoved around the road by wind gusts. While the steering was responsive, I only found this to be a benefit because I was able to guide the vehicle back onto the road with relative ease. Perhaps it would have fared just fine in a crash, but how much force can the Mazda 5 really absorb when afro’d mature dandelions were able to better withstand the breeze?
Personally, I think the title of this post says it all. While it’s a functional product that serves a purpose, it’s just not built for regular-sized passengers. But, for those who feel a minivan is overkill for their needs, perhaps the Mazda 5 will prove to be the perfect fit.
For families whose average height and weight are greater than that of meerkats, I just don’t see it working. That said, if it’s something you’re still considering, I highly recommend that you at least drive it around the block a few times. The last thing you want is to surprise your family with a brand new car only to discover that those who have limbs can’t enjoy it.