Wow, a new car review!
I know I haven't done one of these in a bit but here goes.
Rented a car for my quick in and out trip to South Florida this week. When the rental agent gave me my choices (Chevy Malibu, Mazda 6, Pontiac G5 ect.) I went with something new, I said yes to a black Mazda 5 with 2k on the ticker. I have been wanting to check one of the funky styled wagon/van things out for a bit. The styling is a bit strange but I don't mid so much.
Front seats where comfortable but I wish I had been able to raise just the front up in order to support my legs a bit more. Controls are in all the right spots and very easy to reach. Steering wheel controls are nice, and the wheel tilts and telescopes (yeah!). Driving position was nice, dead peddle was a bit close but not as bad as some cars and there was plenty of room to put my foot to the side. Back seats (middle row captains chairs) are comfortable but you have to raise the head rest or else it digs in your back. 3rd row seats where small but could hold kids pretty well. Storage in the behind the 3rd row seats was a joke, my lap top case barley fit back there so I had to drop the seats in order to stow my carry on. Visibility was good but there was one huge problem. With the back seat headrests up (or if someone in the seat) there is a HUGE blind spot. I could not move the side mirrors to a place that I felt comfortable being able to see all around the car. My only solution was to just put the headrest down, problem being if people are riding back there it really isn't an option to have them ride bent over the whole time. This is a serious issue in my mind and would cross this car off my list of cars to buy, it's too bad to since the rest of the car was pretty darn good.
Is it a wagon or a microvan? Well it looks a bit more like an Aztec or Matrix so I suppose it is more of a wagon, that is until you open the rear doors and they slide like a van. Boooo! I guess the sliding doors give you more access to the rear but I really don't think regular doors would cut down on the access any and they would not look near as minivanish. Those doors are really the only thing I don't like about the exterior.
The biggest thing that kept me from really liking how this car drove was the transmission. It was out and out terrible. 1st gear was much to short. Found myself almost getting whiplash every time I took off from a dead stop. It just lurched if you got on the gas just a tad to much. If you wanted to take off smoothly you had to press the peddle like you where stepping on a grape and didn't want to squash the thing. It handled great, just as I expected from a Mazda, was pretty neutral which was nice. Got to test the handling out on one of those neat spiral parking deck ramps at the airport. But for as much as I liked that it was still stifled by the transmission. 1st gear was awful (as stated above), it couldn't make up its mind on when to shift, would take way too long to downshift when trying to accelerate, would upshift way too early (1.5 to 2k rpms usually) which made city driving a pain in the arse. About the only way to make driving somewhat fun was to use the manual option. Using that you could get the engine into its torque sweet spot (3k+) and have some fun. A manual tranny in this car would probably be great to drive.
I really wanted to like this car. Great handling, pretty peppy when using the manual shift option and keeping the revs up made it a hoot to drive sometimes. Alas, the blind spot issue, non-existent storage space (which really just turned the car into an overweight 4 seater wagon), terrible transmission and quirky sliding doors pushed it away from my good side. I really don't know who would buy this car. I guess if you had to have a small hatchback but needed to be able to really seat 6 instead of 5 then this would be the option for you, but I would suggest it.
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