2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring $22,675 As tested: $24,975

Eureka! This minivan isn’t an embarassment!

A reasonably-priced, fun gang-wagon is the Mazda 5.
A reasonably-priced, fun gang-wagon is the Mazda 5.

It’s a fine, fine minivan that doesn’t move like molasses, look as sharp as that tourist in the “I’M WITH STUPID” t-shirt strolling through Times Square and is a good decent ride instead of a coffin where your Corvette or Camaro dreams lie, Dad.

I loved the Mazda5. It’s compact but roomy, it looks ok, there’s enough but not too much power, it gets a decent 27 highway miles to the highway gallon (21 city) and just plain does what’s asked of it without complaint. As I was writing the above paragraph, I got a call from a friend who recently rented a 5 and told me it was one of her favorite rental cars. (That information and $2.85 will buy you a gallon of gas, but I thought I’d tell you anyway. Who’s the expert here, anyway?)

The 5 has the proverbial sliding side doors and seats six people; the two rear seats fold down to make cargo room, and I wish the vehicle came with one of those sliding hide-it covers to keep prying eyes and sticky fingers away. It comes in three trims—the Sport, midlevel Touring and my test vehicle, the Grand Touring. With this trim you get rear-seat controls, 17-inch alloy wheels, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with an AUX jack for your iPod. Stability control, suprisingly, is not available, so take it easy on corners.

The 5 comes with a single engine for all trims—a 2.3 litre, 153 horsepower, four-cylinder job with a 5-speed automatic tranny. A five-speed automatic transmission comes with on the Touring and Grand Touring and is optional on the Sport.

It’s got room enough, though big passengers might have some complaints and you’ve got to leave your legs in the garage in order to comfortably fit in the back-back row. Also, the climate system was a mystery from start to finish of a week’s test. It blew when we didn’t want it to blow and it wasn’t well marked.

Suitcases, drums, sports equipment? Load 'em in, there's plenty of room.
Suitcases, drums, sports equipment? Load 'em in, there's plenty of room.

Those are minor quibbles with an otherwise roadworthy, not-repulsive minivan. – Josh Max, AutoGigolo.com

More info: http://www.MazdaUSA.com