Per my recent post about buying a new family car, I went and drove the 2012 Mazda5 recently. It was a great vehicle and we could have afforded it brand new. There were some curious things about it, such as having power seating and a few other gadgets left off the highest possible trim level of the vehicle. While in-dash navigation isn't a necessity for us, getting a rear DVD entertainment system included from the factory would have been a nice option - but not really Mazda's style, so that would have been a dealer accessory/add-on.
But the way it drove was fantastic. Really handled itself well for a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine with only a little bit of pep added from the first gen Mazda5. I was impressed with the engine and the way it used its power. I extended the test drive a bit and made sure to rev it up to a good highway speed, and it handled itself like a champ.
In the end, though, my wife, already comfortable with the minivan she has to drive for work, which is a Dodge Caravan, had said all along she wanted a full size minivan. I told her that the Mazda5 was a great option, but admitted that there is virtually zero cargo room for our needs when the 5th and 6th seats in the 3rd row are up. That's too bad as just a little bit more length wouldn't have killed the idea of the Mazda5 and still would have made it significantly smaller than the full size minivans on the market.
While the 3rd row seats might not have been used frequently, we really wanted a long term family car with the kind of hauling capability that homeowners require at times, for that trip to Home Depot to get a big something-or-other. It's also nicer to have the extra cargo room for beach trips, where one has a deep well of space in the Odyssey even behind the third row for things like beach chairs and bags that will get sand all over most car trunks.
What about the upcoming Ford C-Max, you ask? The reviews I've read indicate it will be 5 inches shorter than the Mazda5, so the cargo room with all seats forward would be even worse.
So we ended up with a 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L with only 13K miles on it. Hard to resist given we get the balance of the factory warranty; one full year from purchase date to think about an aftermarket warranty, etc. The EX-L trim on any Honda comes loaded with goodies like leather, moonroof, heated seats & mirrors, auto climate control...and on the minivan, the doors on the side & rear are power operated (if one chooses to engage that option - one can turn it off and go manual instead). Nice little gadgetry I didn't even know it had until I was pulling off the lot: a rear back up camera appears in the rear-view mirror on EX-L models not equipped with navigation. I asked to add backup sensors and the dealership employee looked at me with an inquisitive look - why would you need them, he asked, if you can see what's going on behind you? I didn't know what he was talking about so had him show me.
Yes, with a more complex car and a bigger engine, fuel economy and little quirks are likely to be more of a nuisance. But we're thrilled with our purchase and we know it will be a great long-term family hauler. If my wife drove more than 15,000 miles per year, I would have probably not found the extra room in our budget it took to get this vehicle. But given she typically drives 10K miles per year or less, it was a no-brainer.
Who knows, maybe after we've paid it off, I'll trade my car in for a C-Max or a Mazda5?