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

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

The 5's performance score is in the top-tier of the affordable compact wagon class, even though some say it's missing Mazda's typical "zoom zoom." Newsday jokes "you'll probably see pigs fly before you ever encounter a Mazda that isn't enjoyable to drive. The new 5 skirts the edge though." However, the Mazda5's handling is a plus.

Acceleration and Power

Kelley Blue Book sums up the disappointment with the Mazda5 engine. "The 153 horsepower 2.3 liter four-cylinder engine that feels so good in the Mazda3 could do with a light power infusion." Others say the engine performs adequately if not taxed. "It shows some energy getting away from the light, but there's a little lag between pressing the pedal and the engine springing to life. The only way to smoke the tires in this machine is to douse them in gasoline and strike a match," the Chicago Tribune writes. The Sacramento Bee says "one thing you do not want to do in the Mazda5 is race for that small opening in freeway traffic that's moving 30 mph faster than you."

Reviewers also say you shouldn't expect to save much in gasoline, but you should achieve average fuel economy. The EPA rates the 5s at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on highways with a manual transmission, and at 21 mpg in the city, 27 on highways with the automatic.

Handling and Braking

The Mazda5 redeems itself with its handling. The Washington Post says the wagon has moxie -- "the guts to move nimbly and quickly through urban traffic, and the ability to steal your heart in the process." To Motor Trend, the "driving dynamics and ride compliance of this unconventional troop carrier still have Mazda written all over them," and Kelley Blue Book notes the "ride is controlled but not harsh, and though the steering might be a bit over-assisted, it is reasonably direct. This is no sports car, but it handles much better than a minivan or SUV."

The 2008 Mazda5 has a MacPherson strut front suspension with an independent multi-link rear, "all of it giving the car a tensed and tuned feel through tire-scuffing corners," the Los Angeles Times writes, while the Chicago Sun-Times finds "a supple ride" that "resists body sway in curves." The Mazda5's electric assisted power steering also works well for the majority, "without the 'Is it live, or it is Nintendo?' disconnection that sometimes plagues these systems," Automobile Magazine says. Edmunds also finds steering that's "light and sprightly, not like you're driving the Partridge Family bus."

The Mazda5's brake feel and response is also highlighted. Power assist, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist "bring the Mazda 5 from 60 mph-0 in a respectable 125 feet" reports Edmunds. MSN likes that "stopping distances are commendably short, and the brake pedal has a nice feel."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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