|2015 Mazda5, image courtesy of Mazda|
There are few vehicles I would tell people to flat out stay away from. Most have enough redeeming qualities to make them good contenders that they should at least be considered, because the final decision usually comes down to personal preferences.
One of the vehicles I make an exception on is the Mazda5. People try to push the model as a great alternative to the "over-bloated" minivans on the market today, which supposedly take up too much space. As a minivan owner, I have to disagree, considering that my vehicle economizes space much better than any crossover or SUV out there. While the Mazda5 is smaller, it does feel pretty big inside, considering its more compact footprint. Even though it's too small for my family, I can see where the attraction comes from.
There is one huge blind spot that I can't believe more family-oriented car shoppers don't check out when it comes to the Mazda5: safety. Namely, the vehicle performed poorly in IIHS' small overlap crash test. The test is designed to simulate what would happen if a vehicle struck a small obstacle such as a tree or pole with its front driver's-side corner. The Honda Odyssey aced the test and the Toyota Sienna did well on it, but the Mazda5 bombed out. You need to see the results for yourself:
Notice that the front of the Mazda5 looks like a tiny bomb went off inside it. The driver's door is seriously damaged and left hanging open, which is a risky business in an after-crash, or a secondary crash that involves another vehicle striking the Mazda5 after it initially wrecks out. You can even see rippling in the rear door on the driver's side, showing that crash forces are continuing well through the occupant area of the vehicle. On top of that, the interior camera shows that the dummy's head hit the airbag, slid off and struck the A-pillar. I'm not a medical expert, but I'm pretty sure that would result in a pretty serious injury. Most modern cars have side curtain airbags that would've deployed, helping prevent such a thing from happening.
Considering that minivans are typically purchased by parents who need to transport around their children, this kind of a crash test is even more shocking and disturbing than most. All parents should have the safety of their children at the top of their vehicle priority list, with their own safety and well-being not too far below. Simply put, the Mazda5 is not a suitable mode of transportation for anyone, really, but especially not for people who have young children depending on them for support.
As a side note, the small overlap crash test results for the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are also not pretty, so keep that in mind as you shop for a family vehicle. You should always check out the safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA before settling on a new vehicle, just in case.