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  • 2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring

    Posted on February 13th, 2009 ninarussin

    Compact cross-utility vehicle seats up to six passengers

    By Nina Russin

    Two-thousand nine was a year of extremes, especially with regards to fuel prices. After prices peaked over four-dollars per gallon last July, they fell in December to levels drivers hadn’t seem in half a decade. Now that

    2009 Mazda5

    2009 Mazda5

    regular fuel has once again summited the two-dollar mark, people are looking at their full-sized trucks and wondering if they couldn’t make do with something smaller.

    The Mazda5 is a possible solution for buyers who need to carry multiple passengers, but also keep their driving expenses within reason. With a base price of $22,675 for the upscale grand touring grade, Mazda’s  crossover vehicle is an affordable car that’s also fun to drive. Its standard four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission provide a surprising amount of power, while the car’s small footprint gives it the ride and handling characteristics of a sport sedan.

    Three rows of seating accommodate up to six passengers, assuming that some of those passengers are small. I was able to fit into the back seats, but I don’t agree with the manufacturer’s claim of “generous” third-row legroom. 

    Sliding second-row doors make it easier for parents to fit child seats in back. The second-row seats slide forward to ease third-row ingress and egress. Rear passengers can enter and exit the car without climbing over the rear wheel arches.

    Third-row seats fold flat by releasing a single strap on each seatback, making the cargo floor large enough to load in a bicycle. Folding the second-row seats flat is more complicated: it requires flipping the seat bottoms forward, and, depending on seat position, removing the headrests as well.

    The grand touring grade tested comes with most of the safety, comfort and convenience features its buyers will look for: antilock braking, side curtain airbags, MP3 and Bluetooth compatible audio system, a power moon roof, leather trim with heated front seats and multiple power points. Vehicle stability control is not available on any trim level: a surprising omission considering its proven safety benefits.

    Positive fuel economy plus sporty performance

    The Mazda5 is a light car given its six-passenger capacity. Curb weight is 3475 pounds, allowing engineers to achieve excellent performance with a small engine. Average fuel economy is twenty-three miles per gallon for city and highway driving.

    Its small footprint makes the Mazda5 quite agile as well. It has excellent on-center response at speed, and stays flat in the corners, thanks to standard front and rear anti-roll bars.

    A low center of gravity keeps the car stable on the highway. Five inches of ground clearance is enough to clear the average snowfall, but not adequate for off-road driving.

    The chassis seems well balanced for a front-wheel drive car: I didn’t notice a tendency to push in the corners. Although front-wheel drive improves the car’s traction on wet pavement, it makes the Mazda5 a poor choice for people who want to tow trailers.

    An electric power steering pump produces plenty of assist at low speeds while maintaining good response on the highway. Eliminating the hydraulic booster saves weight under the hood and eliminates a part that frequently wears out.

    Standard seventeen-inch wheels and all-season tires produce a wide contact patch, while four-wheel disc brakes stop the car in linear fashion on both wet and dry pavement.

    Visibility to the sides and rear is good: the car’s lower ride height minimizes blind spots to the sides of  the car. A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel gives smaller drivers a clear forward view.

    Standard rain-sensing wipers keep the front glass clean in intermittent rain, while a standard rear wiper improves visibility to the back in stormy weather.

    Standard xenon headlamps produce a longer brighter beam than halogen, making it easier to see the road at night or in bad weather.

    Ergonomic interior

    Designers maximized room up front by integrating the gate shifter into the center stack, as opposed to the floor console. A manual shift option allows drivers to maximize fuel economy on the highway, or choose sporty performance on winding two-lane roads.

    Redundant audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. Audio and temperature controls on the center stack are easy to reach from both front seating positions.

    Trying the audio system reminded me why I don’t like speed sensitive volume controls: the sound was unusually quiet at stoplights, and deafening on the highway.

    There are two twelve-volt power points: at the base of the center stack, and to the left of the liftgate in the cargo area

    Manually adjustable seats have adequate lower lumbar support. Separate armrests for the driver and front passenger travel with the seats.

    There are two generous-sized cupholders in the floor console: the front doors also have bottle holders and map pockets. Second-row passengers have use of a center console that can slide fore and aft with the seats. Air vents in back of the front center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.

    A standard power moonroof brings extra light into the back of the car. Theater-style seating gives all three rows of passengers a clear forward view.

    The rear glass flips up independent of the liftgate for loading in small items. With all three rows of seating in place, there’s enough room in back for some groceries, but not much else. A small under-floor cargo area conceals valuables.

    A light in the cargo area can turn on and off without the car running: it comes in handy when loading and unloading items at night.

    Mazda produces the Mazda5 at its Hiroshima, Japan assembly plant.

    Likes: An affordable six-passenger vehicle with an ergonomic interior, good fuel economy, and excellent ride and handling.

    Dislikes: Lack of legroom in the third row. Speed-sensitive volume in the audio system overcompensates for road noise.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Mazda
    Model: Mazda5 Grand Touring
    Year: 2009
    Base price: $22,675
    As tested: $23,395
    Horsepower: 153 Hp @ 6500 rpm
    Torque: 148 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 21/27 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a $670 delivery charge.


    2 responses to “2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring”

    1. I think you have the weight off by about 1000 lbs; the 5 is closer to 3500 lbs than 4600.

    2. Dolan:

      You are absolutely. right. Thanks for catching my typo. I’ll correct the information.

      Nina Russin

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