The Inside

Here's where the Mazda5's small size catches up with it. When compared to larger minivans, there's just not a lot of extra space behind the front bucket seats. The Mazda5 does, however, make efficient use of the space it has.

The front seats have noticeable side bolsters and are supportive enough to leave you feeling good even after hours at the wheel. They're fairly snug, though, and may not be comfortable for all body types. They don't slide especially far rearward to accommodate tall drivers, either.

Vehicle controls are sensibly arranged and all-around visibility is good. Notable options include a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth-based cell phone connectivity, a moonroof, heated seats and a six-CD audio system.

The second row has two bucket seats that can slide forward and back for additional legroom in either the second or third row. The seats also recline rather far, and most adults will be able to get comfortable in them.

Adult comfort dips a bit in the 50/50-split third-row bench seat, but it'd be acceptable in a pinch for short trips. If anything, the third row will likely be the hangout for kids, and there's enough space for them. The second- and third-row seats fold down to create a flat load floor stretching from the rear liftgate to the back of the front seats.

Give Mazda credit for devising a way to fit six people in relative comfort inside a vehicle that's only about 5 inches longer than a Honda Civic sedan. The downside of this trick is that there's very limited space behind the third row for any luggage when those six seats are occupied.

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