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Mazda 5 for kids/carpooling without being a boat?

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Timpenin

Our reliable old Ford got totalled and we are frantically trying to find a new car for our family of four (2yo and 4yo) before we have to give the rental back. We simply don't need the space a minivan has yet and I loathe driving big cars, though the family-oriented features are nice. I'll do it in a few years if I have to or if we found a deal too good to pass up. SUVs/crossovers also seem too large to me and with poor mpg but I'd consider if I just haven't driven the right one.

We want a third row and cargo space enough to go car camping. We live in a big city and it snows a lot in winter, so salt damage and snow driving is a consideration. Don't often drive dirt roads, though. I want something I can trust to get me to work and the kids to school safely for the next 7ish years.

I keep circling back to the Mazda 5, and after driving some, specifically a 2012 Sport automatic with a little over 100k miles. Would this fit the bill? Anything else I've missed that I should look at?

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Safety & braking / Price or payments

Need minimum of 6 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 150000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from LectroFuel

2:42 pm October 15, 2017

The Mazda5 is the sportiest of minivans since it's so small. Take note that when your kids are older they will probably want to bring friends with them in the car. The Mazda5 has 3 rows of 2 seats, so if you carry 5 or 6 people you will need to open up the tiny 3rd row seats. With a small SUV like a CR-V you have a lot cargo space and you can carry 1 less person than the Mazda5 minivan but you only use 2 rows of seats. When one backseat is up in the Mazda (to carry 5 people) there will be less cargo space compared to carrying 5 people in a CR-V. For this reason I would not recommend the Mazda5 for carpooling. It's really small inside, especially in the third row. You give up utility and practicality for nimble handling. It has less than 6 cu.ft behind the 3rd row whereas the 2011 Honda Odyssey has 38.4 cu.ft behind the 3rd row.

Other than that and road noise, the Mazda5 was underrated. They should have sold more of them. The Mazda5 only got a "Marginal" rating in the side crash test and a "Poor" rating in the small overlap. It was rare for a car to score that low in the side test. There were much safer options.

I'd suggest the 2008-2009 Mazda CX-9. It's an agile SUV with 3 rows, which is rare. Consumer Reports said the "Agile handling that masks its size is a nice surprise, as a run down a twisty back road will attest." Has much more space than the Mazda5 and is still more fun to drive than most SUVs. 2007 had an engine sourced by Ford and was not as good as the years after when Mazda made their own engine.

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Mazda CX-9

Response from Timpenin

6:11 pm October 15, 2017

I did look at CX-9s on one of the lots, didn't actually drive one. They also seemed too big--we just don't need that much space more than a couple times a year and it doesn't seem worth it to me to buy based on that. However, I've never had anything biger than a compact before. Maybe I just am underestimating how much we'll need as the kids grow? The small-ness is what drew me to the 5, since carrying one or two extra kids is all I really foresee. But again perhaps I'm naive? I'll take another look for CX9s too.

The safety ratings did make me glance twice. Thanks for putting them into a little context for me.

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Response from LectroFuel

4:16 pm October 17, 2017

Most people with kids buy one big practical car at some point. You get used to the size pretty quickly if it's your daily driver. If you are taking your kids and 1 or 2 friends to soccer practice you wouldn't have enough space for their gear in the trunk with the Mazda5. You would have space with a traditional SUV with 7 or 8 seats. At least Mazda's handling makes it feel smaller than it is. A thing to think about is if your kids will fit in the 3rd row of the Mazda5 when they get older. If you don't need the 3rd row take a look at that Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 as they are smaller and drive more like a tall sedan.

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Response from zatskat

8:38 pm October 19, 2017

I happen to own a 2012 Mazda 5 Sport w/automatic transmission that belonged to my late husband. It only has 33,000 miles on it and is in very good condition. It's a great small van. I have my own car, so I am willing to sell it. Let me know if you are interested (I am in Maine). I apolgize if mentioning a car for sale violates the rules of this site -- please remove this post if it is not allowed.

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Mazda Mazda5
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