Original MSRP: $17,995 - $22,515
MPG: 22 City / 28 Hwy
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2008 Mazda Mazda5 Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Mazda Mazda5 was new.

The Mazda5's interior is all practicality, from the seats, to the space and the design. That practicality reflects well within the class, as the 5's places among the top for affordable compact wagons.

The Car Connection notes "the primary factor that sets Mazda5 apart from anything else in North America is its seating for six, in three rows of two, combined with its modest size. There are no other three-row vehicles this small…or small CUVs [crossover utility vehicles] or wagons this flexible, with reasonable room for six, or two and a lot of stuff." But, AutoWeek says, "We're used to the elbow room of a larger van, with at least enough room between seats to keep bickering siblings out of swinging distance from each other."


The 2008 Mazda5 has the class distinction of providing three rows of seating for six passengers, similar to American cars "in the days of yore," Kelley Blue Book describes. "The Mazda5 gives each of the six individuals his or her own seat with theater-style elevation for each row," its writers praise. However the Boston Globe represents those who find the cabin loses comfort the farther back you sit, and suggests adults stay away from third row seats that require "a bend-duck-and-twist maneuver" to gain access.

Several enjoy the front row's roominess and comfort, especially for tall drivers and passengers. Specifically, the Los Angeles Times calls the driver's seat "tall and upright, as it properly should be in a vehicle designed for close-quarters urban driving." However, the Detroit News and a few others notice a "small disappointment" in front-row comfort -- "Mr. Shotgun gets cheated out of a center armrest," Automotive.com notes.

Consumer Guide appreciates the second-row passengers' headroom, while most others comment on the seats' versatility. "Second-row seats slide back to give occupants more legroom. And each of the two second-row seats comes with a fold-down armrest for traveling comfort," the Chicago Tribune says. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman writes, "Even toddlers will enjoy the autonomy offered by the second-row captain's chairs, which also help keep siblings out of each other's space … and the captain chairs recline to facilitate highway naps (for grown-ups too!)"

Speaking of facilitating -- the third row doesn't facilitate much more than discomfort "The third row is fairly dreadful, though, unless you are in kindergarten," to the Detroit News, but Automotive.com raises the age limit. "Legs, arms, feet … Mazda's always forgetting something. Things should be perfectly fine if everyone behind you is under 10."

The Auto Channel represents the more objective opinion. "But in reality, how often do you take six people in a vehicle? So the Mazda5 is great for the four people you might actually transport. If you're asked to transport more, the rear passengers can endure some slight discomfort for a short while."

Interior Features

There are mixed reviews on the 2008 Mazda5's interior features. The Los Angeles Times enjoys gauges and controls that "are stacked in an orderly and sensible way," and appreciates cockpit accessories that "are backlit in a soft green rather than the Hebrew National orange of the Mazda3." MSN points to a "reasonably quiet and quite stylish" interior where "gauges can be ready quickly and most controls are easy to reach and operate," an opinion many shared.

But other reviews voice complaints. Consumer Guide can read the gauges, and Automotive.com writes, "The need to push a button to release the key from the ignition is a dumb annoyance that everyone else solved around 1988," they write. The Detroit News also hopes for a redesign, calling out "a swathed-in-metal instrument panel that looked like it belonged in an oral surgeon's office."

A tilt and telescoping steering wheel with buttons for cruise control and audio is included standard on all Mazda5s, in addition to two power outlets and delayed courtesy lights.

Stereo and Entertainment

The Mazda5's audio system is "a little short on bass and shorter on features," for Automotive.com, but they later add that the system "sounds pleasingly crisp and clean." Other auto critics do not mention the stereo's sound, but several appreciate its ease of operation, except for U.S. News' Rick Newman, who says "the digital radio display is small and difficult on imperfect eyes."


Most writers have grievances with Mazda5's navigation system. Consumer Guide's issue with reading the instrument panel carries over to viewing the LCD screen, while CarsDirect writes, "the navigation system takes some acclimation, what with the controls located down on the shift console." Regardless of where they're located, Automotive.com says, "The do-everything knob often mistakes push-downs for a tilt-a-whirl motion and vice versa. It's also the type that locks out user input whenever the van's in motion. Both are annoying."


Your happiness with the Mazda5's 44.4 cubic feet of available cargo space can vary depending on how many passengers you transport. With all seats upright, the Chicago Tribune finds "there's not enough room behind it to hold much more than a small duffel bag or a couple of golf clubs -- just clubs, not the entire bag." Edmunds writes that you "don't go grocery shopping in the Mazda when you have five passengers unless you want them to hold your bags on their laps."

But several note the 5 provides ample space when not loaded down with people, and appreciate its versatility. Kelley Blue Book is just one to write that seat "folds out of the way individually, so the Mazda5 can accommodate anywhere from one to six occupants and a number of combinations of occupants and gear." The Boston Globe finds reconfiguring the seats "can be done without jammed fingers or skinned knuckles." The end result is a wagon with "plenty of space inside for bicycles, snowboards, boogie boards, skis, camping gear, climbing gear, dogs, people, groceries, you name it," The Auto Channel reports.

According to The Auto Channel, the 5's numerous cupholders and cubbies "add to its practicality for families." One of those cubbies often mentioned is a utility bin stowed beneath the second row's right cushion, "perfect for action figures -- and a shallow plastic bin in the cargo hold -- perfect for wet bathing suits," the Detroit News explains.

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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