Here is my personal opinion and review of the 2008 Mazda 5 GT

2008 Mazda 5 GTAbout a year ago we had a baby, and we realized very quickly that our 2007 2 door VW GTI, the car I loved so much, was just not going to cut it – so, we said goodbye to the fast little car, and hello to mini-van ownership.

But we didn’t want just any mini-van, we wanted a mini-mini-van, one that seems more like a care, and less like a van, one with a manual transmission. That’s when we discovered the 2008 Mazda 5.

We knew right away that it was the perfect car for us. The convenience of a mini-van with the size and agility of a car – it is built on the Mazda 3 platform after all. We find that most people don’t even realize it’s a van, and have heard the comment several times, “It has sliding doors?” “Sure does, and a third row of seats!” Many people see it and assume it’s a Toyota Matrix and are very surprised to see the sliding doors and third row.

This car is really perfect for us, lots of cargo room, its sporty, fun to drive, and it looks good.

Car Trouble
Since we got our 5, we have had only one small problem with it (see update below), a problem that was covered 100% under warranty. The gas cap. I went to buy gas before a trip one day, and for the life of me couldn’t get the gas cap off. The dealer broke it into several pieces trying to get it off, commented on how strange it was, and replaced it at no charge. Since then, no problems. (I have also heard of several other cases where people have had the same bizarre problem. You can read some of these stories over at Mazda Forums.

UPDATE: October 16, 2010
While we still love this car, and it suits our needs very well, since writing this post, there have been a few other warranty issues, some small, some significant. Here they are:

  • rear wiper arm
  • rear right shock
  • rear left shock
  • power steering pump
  • leak detection pump
  • Power window issues (just needed adjustment, not actually broken)
  • dead headlight (surprisingly covered under warranty)

UPDATE: January 23, 2012
I had a nice long time without any issues. Then the same headlight died again. Not a big deal, $10 and 10 minutes later it was fixed. Still weird how I lost two lights on the same side while the other still shines on.

Also, the right rear shock went AGAIN. Mazda would not cover it. No warranty on replacement shocks I guess? Anyways, I have vented bit time about this issue here “Why Courtenay Mazda Has Lost My Business

 

Likes
I like a number of things about this car.

  • Sliding doors
  • Third row of seats
  • Vehicle size
  • Vehicle styling, Including Rims
  • Available storage
  • Great gas mileage
  • Manual transmission
  • Driveability (fun to drive & sporty, albeit a little underpowered)

Dislikes
There are a number of small things that bug me a little – none are enough to stop be from recommending the car however.

  • Drivers seat should slide back a bit further
  • Rear vent blows outside air only
  • No heated mirror option on GT model
  • No heated seats without leather option
  • Stereo is way under-powered, and sounds average at best
  • Stereo does not support MP3’s!
  • Engine could use a little more power & torque. Currently it has about 157 HP, should probably be 200.
  • Blind spot on right of car – passengers head, side pillar, and the head rest, block a quite a bit of the view.
  • Buttons for rear defrost, rear vent, AMB, are in a bad location, should be up above the stereo instead of down by the shifter

Summary
All in all I would definitely recommend this car to anyone looking for a great family vehicle. If, however, you plan on having 3 or more kids, look elsewhere. For 2 kids this van would be great, but if you need to use the third row of seats often, you will lose a large portion of your cargo room. The third row is also fine for little kids, but for adults it is extremely tight. We found a good investment to be roof racks and a car top box. We ordered the racks aftermarket from Thule, found it to be cheaper than Mazda. The box came from Lordco, paid about $300. Ideal for big trips.