$7,994 - $9,708

2012 Mazda Mazda5 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Mazda Mazda5 was new.


Performance: 8.8

The 2012 Mazda5 has performance that impresses most reviewers. While its four-cylinder engine doesn’t produce neck-snapping power, its handing is top-notch. Overall, reviewers say that the 2012 Mazda5 is fun to drive, and not just for a minivan. It has an engaging driving experience, period.

  • "A firm ride and a bit of cabin noise, but also stellar handling for a minivan. A healthy dose of fun and practicality." -- Car and Driver
  • "There's another advantage the Mazda 5 has over its quasi-family mobile competitors -- it's fun to drive. Like the Mazda 3, it goes around corners with control and poise." -- Edmunds
  • "One might argue that the more yielding ride and quiet demeanor actually make this vehicle preferable to something like the more aggressive Mazda3 stable mate. And with a price starting (for a well-equipped Sport model) at under 20 grand, this might be the stealthiest performance car in its category." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

Opinions are mixed on the 2012 Mazda5’s powertrain. Reviewers love that you can get a six-speed manual transmission on a minivan, and also have nice things to say about the available five-speed automotive transmission. A few reviewers complain that the only engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 157 horsepower, is underpowered.

One thing that makes up for the lack of engine power in the minds of some reviewers is the Mazda5’s fuel economy. Mazda says it gets 21/28 mpg city/highway with both the manual and automatic transmissions. That’s the best fuel economy in the class.

  • "The 5 is responsive from a stop and in around-town driving, but falls just short of feeling quick. It's reasonably peppy on the highway too, though passing maneuvers require plenty of throttle input. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and provides timely downshifts. No manual-transmission models have been made available for testing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Speed is another issue. The 5 seems to operate on its own schedule. Its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine -- the Toyota Sienna is the only other minivan sold in the United States that offers anything other than a V-6 -- makes a meager 157 horsepower. That’s 10 less than the same-size engine in the Mazda 3, and the 5 weighs about 300 pounds more." -- New York Times
  • "While a bit coarse-sounding under hard acceleration, the new, 2.5-liter four-banger felt peppy beyond its power ratings. It gets about the same fuel mileage as the 2.3-liter it replaces. The five-speed automatic, now available on all models, shifted just right, no pausing or jerking." -- USA TODAY
  • "Along with all-new sheet metal, the 2012 Mazda5 benefits from a 2.5-liter version of Mazda's inline four (replacing a 2.3), boasting 157 hp and noticeably improved torque across a wider operating range, peaking at 163 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. Despite the increased output, the engine's fuel economy has actually improved. All this new performance is handily exploited by a new standard six-speed manual transmission." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The 2012 Mazda5 feels a bit peppier than its predecessor, with a (still modest) 0-60 time of about nine seconds." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The factor that stands out most in the 2012 Mazda5’s performance is its handling. Reviewers call the 5 fun to drive, saying it handles like a sporty sedan. That’s very high praise for any minivan.  While a few reviewers say the suspension might be a little too taut for some families, most agree that living with a little roughness is worth it, given the Mazda5’s cornering abilities.

  • "The Mazda 5 handles better than the meager steady-state cornering figure of 0.81 g would suggest. Turn the steering wheel, and the front tires change path without delay. All the controls and responses are in harmony, making it easy (and fun) to wring the most out of the Mazda 5. When was the last time you wanted to wring anything but your own neck in a minivan?" -- Car and Driver
  • "Some automakers may boast that their minivans or SUVs "handle like a car," but the Mazda 5 actually does. In fact, it handles like a really good car. Because of its smaller size, it's also much easier to maneuver through tighter spaces, and you won't have to think twice about squeezing into compact parking spots." -- Edmunds
  • "Relative to the established minivan set, the tiny size makes the Mazda5 easy to maneuver through cramped streets and parking lots. It's rather fun to throw around, thanks to responsive and communicative steering. The 5 ran a 28.7 second lap around our figure eight, which is a tenth faster than that 2006 model. Its lateral acceleration has improved by 0.01 average g, too. A bank robber might enjoy using it as a getaway car." -- Motor Trend
  • "Mazda could have saved money with a low-tech suspension setup, but instead the automaker has sprung (*rimshot*) for an independent rear multi-link setup with a stabilizer bar and coil springs. The suspension has increased spring rates for 2012 and does a great job of keeping its composure, even when pushing the tall wagon hard on bendy roads." -- Autoblog
  • "Overall, it still gave us a sporty feel that caused us to enjoy the current Mazda5, but like Tina Turner in her version of “Proud Mary,” sometimes we like it rough." -- Left Lane News

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