We recently learned that the 2014 Mazda 5 did... not so well at the IIHS small overlap crash test.
Among other crash tests as well, but yeah. Its old. It may have been refreshed for 2012 after taking a hiatus for the '11 model year, but the bones underneath are right out of 2006, and date back even FURTHER to 2004 when the Mazda3 debuted.
So lets look past it's funky Nagare themed styling, and get underneath. You'll find the familiar 2.5L four cylinder found in older non-SKYACTIV Mazdas. It's a smooth engine, makes decent power, but is outdated. Outdated seems to be a theme with the Mazda5, more on that later. When the SKYACTIV 2.5L makes 184hp, and this older design only ekes out 157, you start to see my problem.
Power aside, my biggest gripe with the engine is its fuel economy. And that's mostly attributed to the outdated (see, that word again) 5-speed automatic my tester (a.k.a. loaner, a.k.a lot vehicle) was saddled with. Yes, you can get the ultra slick 6-speed manual in the BASE model 5, but who wants a stripper? Of the auto kind, fellers. My tester had a moonroof, Bluetooth, trip computer, rear backup sensors, and other nifty things not available when you spec out a manny tranny 5.
The engine is rated at 22mpg city, 28 highway, and in the first 500 miles this 5 has done at the hands of renters/employees, it's averaging 24.3MPG. Not bad for a SUV, but this is a small van and there are MANY offerings that are not minivans but still have the same seating/cargo capacity and do better. That said.... how does one reset the trip/MPG average meter? I couldn't find a way so I wouldn't reset it to see what just I could get for mileage.
So the drivetrain is old. So what? It's a people mover. It moves people. Up to 6 of them. IF two of them are relatively tiny, or legless. Oh, and if you're going to be the sole driver of the thing, make sure you aren't much above 6' tall. I had a 2006 Mazda5, and the seating and driving position was cramped, as the seat does not move far enough back from the dash. The 2014 adds a steering wheel that telescopes as well as tilts (2006 was tilt only) and you can push it right up against the gauge cluster, while looking silly provides a good enough driving position for me. And another issue with the '06 I had was feet that were too wide to fit between the gas and brake, that seems to have been sorted. And those rear vents? Why are they ambient temp only? I know people bitched about the lack of airflow for rear passengers, but since 2008 all you added was a fan to help blow around the up-front air. You'd think by now they'd be able to control the temperature, too.
It handles like a Mazda. Steering is a bit light, the tires howl too early when cornering, but it feels lighter and smaller than it is. It's a Mazda. Derp.
So can we have a new one now? One that matches the styling of current offerings? Don't make us wait another model year pleeeeeeease. :(
Now onto the little niggles. Like this vent on the driver's side. And the vent behind it. And the one next to it. VENT ALL THE THINGS!
Then point the tweeter at it!
I also had an issue with the tent like appearance of the gauge hood. It's very tent-y, and looks out of place. Hard to miss when its right in front of your face all the time.
Oh, and just to remind you that you're not in the top trim level (and even THAT doesn't fill them all out here in the US), let's throw an assload of switch blanks in there!
Oh, and can we talk about the sun visors, please?
I hated them in 2006, and I still hate them in 2014. They're TOO FUCKING SHORT. If the side windows are X feet long, and a normal average American (or whoever is buying these) is X feet tall and sits X feet back from the dash, MAKE THE VISORS LONG ENOUGH OR ADD SLIDE OUTS MAZDA!
Takuro is unimpressed with your sunvisor skills. His 1998 CAMRY had slideout extensions, ferchristssake. See the morning sun in his eyes as he travels southbound to work?