Second Gear: Fuel-efficient and flexible for families

The Mazda 5 puts the word “mini” into the word “minivan.” A compact six-seater with sliding doors, the 5 launched in its first generation for the 2006 model year, and has now been replaced by a new model.

The first-generation Mazda 5 was popular with small families for its combination of versatility, practicality and good fuel mileage.

Common Issues

Check the air conditioning system for proper performance, and inspect the body, especially around the wheel wells and tailgate lip, for signs of rust. Note that the 5 had some issues with faulty power-steering pumps, which have become familiar to the online owner community.

A service bulletin and recall have been executed to fix the issue, which could see the power steering system fail intermittently.

Numerous owners complain about “cheap” parts installed at the factory, leaving them to replace tires and brake components earlier than expected. Shoppers should also look for signs of a bad alignment. A mechanic can help if you’re unsure how. Ensure the CD player or changer receives and ejects CDs as expected, and check for proper operation of the steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and remote keyfob, too.


All models got a 2.3-litre four-cylinder with 153 horsepower. Transmission choices included a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, depending on the model selected. All units were front-wheel drive.

What Owners Like

The availability of a manual transmission, good handling, relatively generous room, good mileage, interior layout and easy-to-maneuver sizing are all highly rated by Mazda 5 owners. High levels of comfort and flexibility are also noted.

What Owners Dislike

Common owner complaints include a rougher ride on models with larger wheels, the lack of a front passenger-seat arm rest and some difficult-to-clean interior trim materials. Owners also note that cargo space all but disappears when all rows of seating are used.


The 5 looks largely free of expensive or worrisome problems. Those with a young family after a flexible and fuel-efficient means of transportation can buy a well-maintained model with confidence.

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