New for 2006, the Mazda5 is a three-row, six-seat sport minivan that's slightly smaller than conventional short-wheelbase minivans like the Dodge Caravan. It shares platforms and its powertrain with the Mazda3 sedan. Thanks to its "theater-style" seating, all occupants enjoy ample head and leg room with good outward visibility. A one-touch walk-in mechanism offers easy access to the third-row seats and both the second- and third-row seats can fold down to create a virtually flat floor for transporting large objects.
The 5 comes powered by a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine with Sequential Valve Timing that generates 153 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. It can be mated to either a five-speed manual (a rarity among minivans) or a new five-speed automatic gearbox with a manual-shift mode.
The vehicle's handling is enhanced via MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear, with 17-inch wheels and tires. Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are paired with stability control for added surefootedness. Front-side and side-curtain airbags to protect all three rows of seats are also included.
Available in either Sport or Touring trim levels, standard features include a CD stereo, power windows and locks, and cruise control. Available equipment includes air conditioning, fog lamps, a CD changer, and a power moonroof.
For 2008, the Mazda5 gets a touched-up exterior design, a new five-speed automatic gearbox, rear vents, an iPod input jack and on some models, LED taillights. Grand Touring models also get standard alarm systems, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, automatic headlights, heated sideview mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.
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