Going & Stopping

All Mazda5s have a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 153 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque. It's a smooth-revving unit that's strong enough for its purposes, but it doesn't have a whole lot of extra power and can sound buzzy at higher rpm. With a full load of passengers and cargo, it wouldn't be hard for the normally adequately powered Mazda5 to be underpowered.

That said, with one occupant and limited cargo, the Mazda5 cruises easily on flat highways at speeds approaching 80 mph. The cabin gets a bit loud when going that fast, with both wind and road noise contributing to the din.

The four-cylinder teams with either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic, which is new for 2008. The automatic transmission's shifts are smooth, and it features a clutchless-manual mode. If you want the involvement a manual transmission provides, however, get the real thing. You'll save some money, as the automatic costs an extra $950 and has slightly worse gas mileage: 21/27 mpg city/highway versus 22/28 mpg for the manual.

All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard. The setup stops the Mazda5 easily and pedal feel is natural, which is a plus.

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