The sporty 2012 Mazda 5 should be just right for folks who don't need all the size or space of a full-size minivan.
There's a reason the minivan is considered the quintessential vehicle for parents. You see, it's the perfect vehicle for schlepping around the kids and the stuff that comes along with them. No other vehicle can match the minivan's huge interior space, three rows of seating, sliding rear doors and low ride height. Yet as great as a minivan is, it can be overkill for families with just one or two little ones. That's where the 2012 Mazda 5 comes in.
Completely redesigned for 2012, the latest Mazda 5 is an evolution of the previous model. Highlights include a bit more power, more comfortable seating and swoopier styling. At its core, however, the 5 remains a mini-minivan for those with modest family transportation needs. With two seats in each of its three rows, it only seats six compared to the seven- or eight-passenger seating of a big minivan (now that's an oxymoron). But if occasions to haul multiple passengers are few and far between, the Mazda 5's design has a sizable (size being the operative word here) practical advantage over compact crossover SUVs.
There's another advantage the Mazda 5 has over its quasi-family mobile competitors -- it's fun to drive. Like the Mazda 3, it goes around corners with control and poise. Some automakers may boast that their minivans or SUVs "handle like a car," but the Mazda 5 actually does. In fact, it handles like a really good car. Because of its smaller size, it's also much easier to maneuver through tighter spaces, and you won't have to think twice about squeezing into compact parking spots.
That said, the 2012 Mazda 5 certainly isn't for everyone. Some folks really do need commodious space, and there's something to be said for V6 power on hilly terrain or with a full load of people aboard. The Mazda 5 also isn't available with certain features common to regular minivans, like power-operated sliding doors, sunshades or factory-installed navigation and entertainment systems. In contrast, the Ford C-Max -- also a mini minivan built on a platform shared with the Mazda 5 – has all sorts of electronics features. Still, the Mazda 5 has everything you need and enough passenger and cargo space for most young families. Essentially a design hybrid between a minivan and a wagon, the Mazda 5 is a great alternative choice and definitely worth a look in these lean economic times.