Can a minivan be fun to drive? Yes, if the kids don’t come along for the ride. Terrible jokes aside, there actually used to be a minivan on the market that was smaller than all the others, which meant less room but better handling, and it even came with a manual transmission.
Some may have considered it fun to drive, but most others never even knew it existed. Let’s take a look back at the Mazda5, or as we like to call it, “the Miata of minivans.”
In case you’ve never seen a Mazda5 in the wild, you might be wondering just how small it was. In its last iteration, the Mazda5 measured in at 180 inches while, for reference, the Honda Odyssey of the same year measured in at 203 inches.
And in case you’re wondering, an MX-5 Miata is 157 inches long, but we digress.
The Mazda5 was produced from 2006 to 2015 and during the time it was produced it saw two different generations. The first generation was from model years 2006 to 2010 and the second was from 2012 to 2016.
The Mazda5 was unique in that it had flexible seating and could carry up to six passengers, but it had the agility and fuel economy of a small car. It was a great solution for any new family that didn’t need all the room and features of some of its more popular rivals.
On the outside, the Mazda5 looks like a shrunken version of your standard minivan. It has sliding doors, short overhangs, and large windows. The first generation exuded some bland styling as there were no interesting character lines to make it stand out.
However, for the second generation, Mazda kicked it up a notch and added some angular head and taillights, along with swooping character lines that gave the car a sleeker look, which matched the rest of the Mazda line.
On the inside, the Mazda5 is quite utilitarian in that there are storage spaces everywhere as well as ample seat room in the first and second rows. The second row consists of Captain’s chairs that are suitable for kids and adults, however, the third row is better suited for only kids.
Fold-down that third row, and there is plenty of room for luggage, but with them folded up, you’ll have to get creative. Or just bring along really small luggage.
The Mazda5 was powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque that was mated to a five-speed automatic. As stated before, a six-speed manual transmission was available, but only up until the 2014 model year.
A sensible solution
During its production run, the Mazda5 saw some good sales success. However, that success eventually ran its course and falling numbers led to its ultimate demise.
But if you’re currently interested, then you should be able to find a used Mazda5 pretty easily on the used market. A quick nationwide search revealed that Mazda5s are currently posted for sale between $5,000 and up to $20,000 depending on the year, mileage, and location.
So, if you’re looking for something to put your family in that costs considerably less than other options like the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, we suggest checking out a Mazda5. You might just find it fun to drive, with or without the kids.