February 17, 2018

2013 Mazda5 Grand Touring Review

2013 Mazda5

There is a running joke between my husband and I regarding minivans. As a newly dating couple we got stuck behind a horribly bad driver in a minivan on the beltway one day. Traffic was going in an irregular pattern and speeds were over the place. It was then that we noticed we were surrounded by minivans. We looked at each other and declared, “I hate minivans!” Then he said, “Promise me if we ever get married that we will never own one. Even if we have six kids.” That was fifteen years ago and three kids later. We still don’t own a minivan. We drive an SUV that drives like a truck. Many think it is a hassle because it lacks sliding doors and the easy access that minivans have with their bucket seats versus bench rows. These days when someone asks me why I don’t drive a practical minivan I say, “I like cars. When you like cars that isn’t an option.” This is based on the fact that when I have driven one as a rental or borrowed one from a friend I feel like I’m driving a bus, the ride is sluggish and as if my reflexes are off.

The Mazda Mazda5, a six passenger minivan, did not do that. It’s a mini minivan with zip. Having just come off driving the Mazda3, I was completely floored when after my first ride in the Mazda5 I realize I liked it better than the 3 precisely because it had more power. It’s sportier than most, yes really. The interior feels quite narrow and compact, almost European, but I liked that. There were no automatic sliding doors on this model but the kids thought that manually sliding doors were cool anyway.

Redesigned for 2013 the Mazda5 has a sportier look and feel to it. It drives like a car with a sporty suspension that makes it a breeze to drive. I drove the Grand Touring model for a week with standard 17″ Alloy wheels, Bluetooth, MP3 Player, rear spoiler, foglights, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a trip computer and audio connectivity. It had the optional moonroof and Sirius radio. Even redesigned the automatic doors are not going to be on the Mazda5, which is disappointing.  You can add on remote ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rear-seat entertainment system and  a Garmin portable navigation system when purchasing one.  A nice addition is the fold-out table and storage net that can be stowed away when not in use.  It sits in the second row and my kids loved it.  I found the car to be agile and easy to drive, the dash controls were a bit heavy-handed but in logical places and within comfortable reach.  The third row isn’t for tall people and has less leg room for bigger kids or adults and once it it is up all the way you don’t have any cargo space. Down it yields 44.4  cubic feet of room.  I found having the third row be a 50/50 split worked best for our needs.

Seats 6.  Here third row is half up with storage for a full week of groceries.

Seats 6. Here third row is half up with storage for a full week of groceries.

Interior with optional navigation system

What surprised me the most about the Mazda5 is its handling. Not only is it easy to park because of its narrow width but it has sharp handling that isn’t found in many minivans. Steering was quick and precise. Acceleration and braking was slower but better than I thought it would be and the ride was comfortable on the highway and in town. Gas mileage is only slightly better than a full-size minivan (22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy) and the price is lower. There are three options for the Mazda5- Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. MSRP starts at $19,940 for the Sport, $22,070 for the Touring and $24,470 for the Grand Touring making it very affordable.

So the question is would I buy a minivan?  Probably not, because overall as much as I liked the Mazda5 and had fun driving it I still felt that it wasn’t me.  However, I’m willing to give other makes and models a test drive, just to be sure.

MPR Rating: Four Stars.

Disclaimer: MPR was not paid for this post. Cars are reviewed through STI Drive and opinions are MPR’s only.

*Images from automobilemag.com, MPR, trendzcar.com.


  1. I am looking to downsize from my minivan because I want better gas millage… and let’s face it, I don’t have enough kids for a minivan. However, I love driving my VW. Thanks for the review :)

    • Victoria says:

      I don’t know what the VW’s gas mileage is but the Mazda 5 is slightly better than larger vans. An SUV with Flex Feul or Hybrid might work as well if you want off the minivan train. Though the Grand Touring Mazda 5 is nice.

  2. Glad to see your car-loving self gave the Mazda 5 a good review. That’s what I own, and despite being a “mom” car, I find it pretty great for city driving. I’ve been stuck driving a truck lately, and really miss the handling and pep of my little van.

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