2014 Mazda 5 Driving Impressions

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the Mazda 5 provides just enough power and torque to get the job of family transporter done, with not much more available. For many if not most likely owners, of course, that's fully sufficient.

A 6-speed manual transmission is offered on base Sport versions for the few who want it, but the more popular automatic is a 5-speed, not a 6-speed. That means the highway fuel economy suffers and the cruising noise level goes up accordingly. During our test drive, the engine performed smoothly and quietly.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive, with cool contrasting stitching on upper models. The second-row captain's chairs slide, recline and fold flat, opening up all kinds of passenger comfort and storage possibilities. Interior function was excellent, with a USB/iPod connection on all models, and wireless Bluetooth connectivity standard on Touring and Grand Touring models. The six-speaker sound system sounded very good when the volume was cranked up.

The Mazda5 suspension is conventional, with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. The ride is relatively flat through the corners. Quicker-acting shock absorbers and effective brake and throttle action help make the Mazda5 fun and comfortable to drive with some spirit.

Steering uses a combination of electric and hydraulic assist, and it feels connected to the tires and the road. Brakes are four-wheel discs and offer confident stopping power.

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