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2012 Mazda5 (photos)

Mazda's little minivan, the Mazda5, seats six in three rows, in a vehicle most would mistake for a compact car. But tech is hard to find in this little people-mover.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 14 Josh Miller/CNET
Mazda's small minivan, the Mazda5, got an update for the 2012 model year. But this car represents a dead end for Mazda, as a new design chief took over and nixed many of the elements from this car for future Mazda models.
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The Mazda5 realizes the design theme of Nagare, which Mazda showed frequently in concept form throughout the last decade. But Nagare has been scrapped for a new theme called Kodo. Expect future Mazda models to take a different design direction.
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Mazda bumped the engine displacement from 2.3 to 2.5 liters in the new Mazda5. But a new generation of direct-injection engines is on the horizon for Mazda, making this power plant old technology from launch.
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The Mazda5 is unique in being a small minivan. It is similar in size to a first-generation Dodge Grand Caravan, a model that has grown significantly in length. The Mazda5's size makes it a good city car with plenty of room inside.
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In minivan style, the Mazda5 has sliding doors on its sides.
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The middle row is made up of two captain's chairs. There is also a third row, although it isn't particularly large.
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The Mazda5 has a typical economy car ride. Its cushiony seats help the ride quality considerably.
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There is cargo space enough for a few grocery bags with the third-row seats up.
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Put the third row down in its fold-flat position, and cargo room increases dramatically.
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Mazda has a particular style when it comes to dashboard dials and switches, but it is not particular intuitive. Plenty of plastics over dash and console give the car a cheap feel.
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Surprisingly, Mazda fits audio and cruise controls onto the steering wheel spokes even at the base trim level.
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At the base trim level, the Mazda5 does not get a trip computer, so it won't display range remaining.
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At its base trim level, the Mazda5 can be had with a six-speed manual transmission.
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The display at the top of the dashboard shows information for tracks playing on satellite radio or MP3 CDs.

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