So folks who are looking for a minivan, steer clear. This is not a minivan and should not replace your thoughts of going that route. What this is, is a bigger wagon with sliding doors. You get the middle seat access of a minivan with the low ride, handling, and fun of a wagon. I opted for the 5 speed manual and couldn't be more pleased. The "R" gear is a little tough at times to get into but a little let up of the clutch and she goes in like a champ. I've taken my Mazda5 around some curves at speeds I would never take a true minivan and it carved the road comfortably with very little body roll. This is the perfect car for the dad that wants a little zip but still needs function. I would say if Mazda lowered this car a little bit from stock, used 6 gears in the 06-10 models and not 5, and allowed the Grand Touring and Touring models to use the manual, this would be the perfect ride. When someone asks you why you drive a minivan, promptly respond with "It's a microvan" or "It's a wagon." When they try to tell you sliding door equal minivan, politely remind them of the late 80's Nissan Stanza Wagon. I'm a car guy. I've owned turbo compacts, stick shift sport trucks, and beater cars. I've loved each one and I've driven each one like it should've been... driven hard.
Wanted the function of a mini-van without the bulk. It delivers. Great gas mileage (28 mpg avg) with the four cylinder but with surprising get up and go. Great for a family of four with the option of third row seating (third row not really for adults, and a tight squeeze for kids). Drives like a car. Very much like a station wagon with sliding passenger doors. Very happy with it.
i wanted a car that would fit my family without any problems, and the mazda 5 sport wagon delivered. However, the milage that i am getting for a 4 cylinder, is not the best. I think that some improvement needs to be done there. it is expected that a smaller cylinder vehicle is more economical on gas, i have not found that top be truth in this vehicle. It is a great looking vehicle, and rides well, but those are some of the draw backs.