Mazda5 Review

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
Hi all,

We just bought a 2007 Mazda5 this weekend. Overall, I'm quite pleased with it. My requirements were better gas mileage (we bought it out of state and drove it 1900 miles since Saturday; it averaged 28 mpg, mostly highway miles), seats at least 6, and start at under $20K. A difficult combination!

Here's the problem that came up today (and it's also a reminder to ALWAYS test-drive the car with ALL the kids in every seating position you could possibly use!!!) The shoulder part of the belts in the two rear seats (it has three rows of seats, with two seats in each row) are so far forward of the seat that there is a good 2-3 inches between the belt and the chest/shoulder. This is true even on my 5' tall 12 year old, who otherwise fits very well in the seat, and even with boosters (for the 9 & 11 year olds.) (I'll post pictures later on in case someone else encounters this.)

While I have a solution for now (I put the back/headrest back on my 9-year-old's Turbobooster and put my daughter's Husky in that row), I am very frustrated about this. It really limits our seating arrangements, not to mention my view out the back window, and considering the fact that others who buy this vehicle are going to be using those seats almost exclusively for children, it's not safe enough. I can't imagine what the head excursion must be.

I also found a nasty problem with child seat installation instructions in the vehicle manual. At one point it very clearly describes and illustrates how to install top-tethers under the headrest in the middle-row seats, but OVER the headrest in the third row seats. A few pages later, it says in a "warning" box to never ever install a top-tether over the headrest. (It wasn't an issue with the Husky because the tether points on the seat are so far apart.) There are also some really poorly-worded phrases throughout the installation instructions. I was really, really unimpressed!

Again, overall I'm pleased with this vehicle. Both of my daughter's seats (Husky and Marathon) installed beautifully, and all four of the rear seating positions have tether-points. I just wish car manufacturers would realize that over half the people who use their products are under 5 feet tall!!

ETA: This thread has grown to include a lot of reviews and pictures of the Mazda 5! There are a lot of posts with pictures of a pretty wide variety of carseats in the 5, plus a lot of interior pictures, and comments about various issues and features. So be sure to check out all the posts, and feel free to post a question of your own if you have one! :thumbsup:
 
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teekadog

Active member
Wow, thanks for this. We're in the market for a car and keep coming back to the Mazda5 for the reasons you mentioned... but what's holding us back is that I'd have to put 2 rearfacing Marathons in the middle and one Regent in the rear... and I just don't know about that :confused:

If you could post pictures sometime, that would be great!

And CONGRATULATIONS!! on the new car!
 

teekadog

Active member
So I broke down and test drove and test fit car seats in the Mazda5 today.

(A few months ago we just played around with it on the showroom floor. We thought it was cute, but much too small for us. We were going to go with the Toyota Sienna. Now our new car budget has shrunk and I'm having attacks of guilt over buying a gas guzzling van this day and age...)

It was wonderful! I took both of our Marathons. Even with both rfing in the middle row, there was planty of room for tall dh in the front. Then I put one ffing in the 3rd row and one rfing right in front of it in the middle row. I think I could fit 4 Marathons in it easily! Another thing I loved is that it was so easy to buckle the 4yo in the 3rd row because it's so small I could just lean inside the door, even with the other Marathon right in front of it. And I could still talk with any passengers in the 3rd row while driving-- 4yo dd has been begging not to be put "way back there" when we get a van. It was definitely the most fun to drive compared to the Sienna, Ody, or Hyundai/Kia van.

It was hot, though. The only interiors they offer are dark, they don't offer window tinting, and the a/c vents are only located in the front dash. Both kids complained about the heat. Also, there's very little cargo space, since we'd need 3 car seats in it next year. We'd have to buy a roof rack for any long distance travel, and that's not cheap. Other parents I've talked to recommend the roof rack over a hitch box for extra storage, because they say they really feel better knowing they have quicker access to their children in the 3rd row, despite the lower mpg. Thoughts on this? Also, it hasn't been safety tested in the NA yet, and I am nervous about putting a passenger in the 3rd row-- it is so close to the back of the car. I'm hoping putting a big ol' beastly Regent back there would lessen my fears. Anyone know if a Regent would fit there, with the other half of the 3rd row folded down?

Defrost, post any further thoughts you have on your new car PLEASE! I am dying to hear more about it! :D
 

southpawboston

New member
i highly recommend roof-top carriers as opposed to rear box-hitch kinds. i'm a big fan of yakima brand racks and accessories, having owned a yakima rack since 1995 which has been on four different cars of mine. i prefer roof-top versions since you can add really large storage boxes and have your bikes or skis or kayak up there...

i wouldn't worry about the safety testing in the US. while i personally can't guarantee it will get top ratings in the US tests, it has gotten top ratings in both the japanese and the european tests. and mazda is determined to have the mazda5 do well here.
 

UlrikeDG

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
The issue with putting luggage on the roof is that it raises the center of gravity, increasing the roll-over risk. I don't know anything about the hitch box.
 

southpawboston

New member
The issue with putting luggage on the roof is that it raises the center of gravity, increasing the roll-over risk. I don't know anything about the hitch box.

yes and no. in theory it *does* raise the rollover risk, however the weight limit of the rack is something like 150 lbs, so that is quite minimal and probably doesn't affect the car's overall emergency handling dynamics significantly (plus a mazda5 is going to be intrinsically a lot less rollover-prone than any SUV, regardless of stability control). the advantage, on the other hand, is that the roof racks maintain a more or less even front to rear weight balance. this affects the handling of the car. rear box hitch-mounted systems add a LOT of weight to the rear axle (more than having the same weight in the trunk, since there is a cantilever effect the farther behind the rear axle you put the weight). this shifts the weight distribution far to the rear, which is very bad for handling. so arguably, a rear hitch mount system makes the car less stable than a roof-top system.

and this i know firsthand. i once transported an electric wheelchair on a hitch-mount platform carrier on a subaru outback. the wheelchair was only 220 lbs, but the back of the car dragged so badly i felt dangerously unstable on the road. if that wheelchair had fit inside the car, that little weight wouldn't have made the car feel any different.
 

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
I'm glad my review was helpful! I agree, installing carseats so far has been very easy. Overall I love this car! The issue with those rear-row shoulder belts has been my only major complaint. I do agree it needs more vents; but with my kids being older we're doing all right. I can roll down the back windows to get a breeze going until the A/C catches up. Hopefully Mazda will correct this next year? Our friend has a Mazda7 and it had rear air vents - why did they miss this on the Mazda5??

The rear seat shoulder belt position is driving me nuts, though. I bought a Graco Airbooster thinking it would be more comfortable and that he'd quit moving around in it so much, but it hasn't helped. He keeps leaning to the side so he can see out the front or lean on his sister's Husky (he's 9). I can't put him in the center row and fix that problem because neither of my older children can ride in the back with the shoulder belt being so far forward (they're too big to use the back of the booster to position the belt). I'm now looking at putting him in his sister's Husky and getting her a Radian.

Hm... I just had a thought. My 11yo still uses a booster (he's small for his age) and with the strap that positions the shoulder belt, I *might* be able to put him in the rear and move the 9yo to the center.

Does anyone have any opinions on customizing a positioner for the shoulder strap? I know it wouldn't be "approved," but I keep thinking that if I could just pin a positioner (like the ones that come with booster seats) to the back of the seat, it would hold the shoulder strap closer to the seat where it should be.

OH, and it does get the mileage promised! We bought ours out-of-state and drove it home; almost exclusively highway miles, and we got 28 mpg consistently. I'm pretty sure the turn radius is smaller than with most vans, too. U-turns and parking have been a breeze. Pay close attention when adding windshield wiper fluid, though. I accidentally put windshield wiper fluid in the radiator overflow tank... seriously, it's an easy mistake! (My mechanic was kind enough to write "Engine Coolant Only" on the tank in permanent marker - what, Mazda couldn't do that??? ;) )
 
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Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
All right, here's the pics. If anyone has info on how safe/unsafe this is, please let me know. I know that I'm personally not at all comfortable with it, but I honestly don't know how it crash-tests.

Here's the rear passenger-side seat empty (the clip you can see behind the belt is not a positioner, it's just for holding the belt out of the way when the seats are folded.)
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0817.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

This is my oldest, age 12 (13 in two months). He's 5'1", 90+ lbs, 22" torso:
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0818.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

As you can see in this photo, there is about three inches of space between his shoulder and the belt:
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0822.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

This is my 11 year old, 4'7", 60-65 lbs, 18" torso:
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0823.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

Top view of the shoulder belt (this is closer to 4 inches but it's hard to tell because his shirt is baggy):
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0824.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

Collarbone to belt measurement:
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0826.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

Our only solution is a backless booster with a belt positioner (as you can see, he is not pleased with this):
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/alunatic_photos/IMG_0827.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

I need to "test-drive" him in this position to see if he is better able to remain properly positioned in the seat. If he's too wiggly like my third son, my only other option is to put the third son back in a 5-pt harness (he'll get his sister's Husky until he outgrows it, she'll get a new Regent).
 

Gypsy

Senior Community Member
I've seen Debbie's new car, her kids and how they all fit in it. The 3rd row belts are exactly as terrible as the pictures show. Debbie keeps cars until they die and when her kids are no longer in seats that can make those shoulder belts fit properly there is going to be a problem because no one will be able to safely use that 3rd row without a carseat or belt positioner.
 

teekadog

Active member
Yeah, those 3rd row seatbelts are a real brain fart on Mazda's part. I was shocked. (Well, not too shocked. I've had a Mazda before, and know they sometimes 'miss' on the important 'details.') Thankfully my kids are still young (4yo, 2yo, and in utero) so they'll be in harnessed car seats the life of this car. In several years, when we choose to finally retire our Toyota Echo, we hope to buy something newer and bigger for me and the kids, so this will be dh's car then. (Though he's already asked if he can be the primary driver of it until the baby's born LOL.)

My Marathon installed like a breeze ffing in the 3rd row passenger side, with my other MA rfing and reclined for a newborn in the middle, and I could still have the front seat back all the way, though it was fully upright. That was super cool! I was planning on buying a Regent for the 3rd row-- does your Husky install well there? Though I'd still need the middle row pushed back all the way to fit a seat for a newborn... decisions, decisions! And we haven't even bought the car yet!

And, yk, if enough people speak up, we could get Mazda to fix the 3rd row belt issue. Free retrofit, anyone :whistle: ? It'd be better for them to do it sooner rather than later. When I get mine I'll take pics of all my passengers trying to fit such a silly belt. Add that to your pics... spread the word on the mpvclub forum... get enough techs to voice their concern...
 

UlrikeDG

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
How do you or your DH fit back there, Debbie?

I think I'd report it to NHTSA. Not sure that there's actually anything they can/will do about it, but I'd want them to know anyway.

Gah. Looking at Sam in the booster... I'm not actually sure that's a good fix. The adjuster on a backless booster is supposed to pull the belt down off the neck when the child is too short. It's for comfort more than safety (although the two are connected to an extent). It's not supposed to hold tight in a crash (at least, I don't think it is), so really I think it's just disguising the slack, not "fixing the fit". :scratcheshead: In a crash, the positioner will break, and there will still be 4" of space between him and the belt.

Because your question is burried in a vehicle review thread, you might not have a lot of people looking at it. If you don't get many responses, you may want to repost in a new thread for more visibility.
 

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
I was planning on buying a Regent for the 3rd row-- does your Husky install well there? Though I'd still need the middle row pushed back all the way to fit a seat for a newborn... decisions, decisions! And we haven't even bought the car yet!

Oh, the Husky installs beautifully back there! The only complaint I'd have is that it does limit the rear view a bit, but not as bad as the headrest on the booster does.

I am going to contact Mazda about this - I would love to have it fixed, though I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. It's so frustrating because it's otherwise such a perfect vehicle for us.
 

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
How do you or your DH fit back there, Debbie?

YK, both me, dh, and my friend (Gypsy) have sat back there and didn't notice anything, but I'm going to go out right now and sit in it to check!

On me (5'6") there's about 1 inch of space between my collarbone and the belt. It's really not a comfy fit for any adult, though, and I don't think that any sane person could argue that those two rear seats were designed with adults in mind.

I think I'd report it to NHTSA. Not sure that there's actually anything they can/will do about it, but I'd want them to know anyway.

NHTSA too? Sure, why not - as long as I'm complaining anyway!

Gah. Looking at Sam in the booster... I'm not actually sure that's a good fix. The adjuster on a backless booster is supposed to pull the belt down off the neck when the child is too short. It's for comfort more than safety (although the two are connected to an extent). It's not supposed to hold tight in a crash (at least, I don't think it is), so really I think it's just disguising the slack, not "fixing the fit". :scratcheshead: In a crash, the positioner will break, and there will still be 4" of space between him and the belt.

Oh, I really did not want to hear that. *sigh* It's not that we can't afford a second Regent, it's just the principal of the matter and the fact that it won't be long before that option doesn't work, either.

Here's a question: with the headrest on the booster and seat belt locked, would that fix it?
 

UlrikeDG

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
A HBB might fix it--belt locked or not--because it starts the child out a few inches ahead of the seatback. It might totally eliminate the gap. You'd have to try it and see, but maybe Fighter in the Turbo with back would work, and poor Sam wouldn't have to move back into a booster. ;)

I asked about you and other adults fitting, because I'm wondering if maybe by the time Fighter is out of the booster, Thomas might fit, and by the time Macha is out of a seat, maybe Sam might.
 

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
Hm... it *is* possible that Thomas might be big enough by then. He seems to be preparing for another huge growth spurt, and if he gets to my height (just 5 more inches!) by then it'll be a close enough fit. I still wouldn't be thrilled with the one-inch gap, but three inches is just too much.
 

teekadog

Active member
We bought ours today :D I sat in the 3rd row first. There was >1" of space between my shoulder and the shoulder belt. My dh pointed out that once I'm more pregnant/nursing (like I am 90% of the time :rolleyes: ) it'll fit fine. I tried my 4yo in the 3rd row in her RideSafer Vest. I was slightly uncomfortable by how loose the shoulder belt seemed on her in that case. It wasn't "too" loose, as she was short enough in the seat that the lap buckle was pulling it tight "enough" around her. It was just looser than I had experienced in any other car.

I was thinking sliders, like they have on front seat shoulder belts, would be a perfect remedy. My dh suggested a locking clip??? I didn't know he knew what one was.

They're redesigning it for 2008, but I don't have a clear idea of how drastically, and haven't heard of any planned changes for seatbelts. We bought anyway because I'm an impatient kind of gal-- and got a better price when I complained to the dealer that the 08 addresses a lot of the obvious issues with the 07 (more armrests, rear air vents, etc.)
 

Defrost

Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
We bought ours today :D I sat in the 3rd row first. There was >1" of space between my shoulder and the shoulder belt. My dh pointed out that once I'm more pregnant/nursing (like I am 90% of the time :rolleyes: ) it'll fit fine. I tried my 4yo in the 3rd row in her RideSafer Vest. I was slightly uncomfortable by how loose the shoulder belt seemed on her in that case. It wasn't "too" loose, as she was short enough in the seat that the lap buckle was pulling it tight "enough" around her. It was just looser than I had experienced in any other car.

I was thinking sliders, like they have on front seat shoulder belts, would be a perfect remedy. My dh suggested a locking clip??? I didn't know he knew what one was.

They're redesigning it for 2008, but I don't have a clear idea of how drastically, and haven't heard of any planned changes for seatbelts. We bought anyway because I'm an impatient kind of gal-- and got a better price when I complained to the dealer that the 08 addresses a lot of the obvious issues with the 07 (more armrests, rear air vents, etc.)

Yeah, I got a pretty good price, too. It's a fun car, hey? If I could just get this dang seating issue worked out! My friend gave me a Britax Laptop that still has a year until it expires; that's the only solution I'm comfortable with so far, but we'll be re-visiting this again when he either outgrows the Laptop or it expires.

A locking clip can't be used without a seat - it's got a very, very specific use, and this isn't one of them. If Mazda were to install adjustable sliders like they do on the front seats, it still wouldn't change the fact that the belt is too far in front of the seat - it would just be too far in front of the seat and lower, yk?
 

teekadog

Active member
Yeah, I got a pretty good price, too. It's a fun car, hey? If I could just get this dang seating issue worked out! My friend gave me a Britax Laptop that still has a year until it expires; that's the only solution I'm comfortable with so far, but we'll be re-visiting this again when he either outgrows the Laptop or it expires.

A locking clip can't be used without a seat - it's got a very, very specific use, and this isn't one of them. If Mazda were to install adjustable sliders like they do on the front seats, it still wouldn't change the fact that the belt is too far in front of the seat - it would just be too far in front of the seat and lower, yk?

Yeah, all very true. I at least knew the locking clip idea was bad :) I was just surprised dh knew what one was :p

So do you think there's any solution? I'd love to recommend this car to people, especially my best friend with 3 kids, but 2 of her kids would have the same trouble you're having...
 

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