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2012 Mazda5 | Car Pictures Video Specification Features Suspension Price Rebates Colour List Exterior and Top Speed

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mazda's Pint-sized Minivan Gets Better, Not Bigger

2012 Mazda5
2012 Mazda5 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Way back in 1983, Chrysler shocked the world with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. The upstart family haulers took the auto industry by storm, driving a stake through the heart of station wagon sales while setting the table for Chrysler to own the minivan segment for decades to come. But that segment has evolved in the last several years, leading to a redefinition of family transportation.

First and foremost, the minivan has gone through an HGH-fueled growth spurt, adding a host of whiz-bang features like a second sliding door and ridiculously handy storage options along the way. The other big development has been a rising tide of SUVs and crossovers, which focused consumers' attention away from minivans to the point where many automakers don't even offer one anymore. But as America's suddenly all-new or heavily refreshed batch of minivans illustrate (see: Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey), many automakers have responded by evolving the mundane van into the automotive equivalent of a family spa day. These new vans contain near-luxury levels of comfort and convenience, and it's not at all uncommon for them to crest $40,000 or more.

If you can afford their monthly payments, the latest minivans to hit the market will likely suit your needs just fine. But what if you want something small, efficient and, perhaps most important, inexpensive? Something more like the original Caravan? Right now, there is only one choice on the market: the 2012 Mazda5. While the rest of the auto industry zigged with larger and more opulent choices, the Zoom-Zoom automaker zagged with a minivan that's nearly the size of the original Caravan, and with a price tag starting under $20,000. We took the reins of a nicely equipped 2012 Mazda5 Touring to see if Mazda's nifty little van has the chops to take on the big boys.

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