In the United States, there aren't many choices for those who need a vehicle that has seating for more than five people but who don't want to give up the maneuverability of a compact car. The Mazda currently has the segment to itself with the Mazda5. It seems more like a car than a crossover, providing for better handling and driving experience. But with all its traits come some slight negatives that can provide room for the model's improvement.
The hood over the interior instruments-which rises to form a point-seems overdone; in fact, it's unnecessary as the instruments' nacelles shield them. The door panels remain too flat and too plain and the center console looks like a cheap Mazda5 accessory rather than a factory part. The Mazda5's second-row buckets would have been almost as comfortable as those up front if they weren't too low to the floor. The third seat will have to be folded to make way for luggage. Also, getting in and out of the rear seat is tougher than in a larger van. The headrests must be lowered before folding the seats-this doesn't happen automatically.
The audio system sounds like it could use a few more speakers. One will only be able to enjoy those moderate volumes when the Mazda5 is stopped; at high speeds there's quite a bit of road noise. At louder volume levels, the balance shifts to midrange, slightly clipping detail from high end; and near max volume, the bass distorts unpleasantly.
The Mazda5 suffers from a few suspension problems. Its shocks and bushings wear out like crazy. Drivers complain that after 18 miles or so, the Mazda5's rear suspension would be shot. Apparently this is a common issue with this model; so much so that there is a Canada-wide shortage on Mazda5 parts, particularly OEM shocks.
Fuel economy is not a real reason to choose the Mazda5 over a "big" minivan, at least not if 90 percent of the driver's driving would be done on the freeway. Mazda5 models feature a four-speed automatic rather than the five-speed unit, resulting in lower fuel economy.
Sliding doors freeze over and get stuck during the winter-if one tries to close them, instead of latching, they would just bounce open. During the summer, they get squeaky and produce noise when opened. There are several sharp edges on the plastic material too, which incidentally makes the interior panels look cheap. Drivers and auto critics complain that its bulky plastics eat up interior volume. There is some very intrusive wind noise from the B-pillar, which sounded like the window isn't closing all the way. Its tires could be a little less noisy. Rust is also a common problem with Mazda5s where the roads are salted.