YONKERS, N.Y. — Both the freshened Mazda5 microvan and the redesigned Nissan Quest minivan did well in Consumer Reports’ tests of the two vehicles in the magazine’s December issue. The Mazda5 received an Excellent road test score of 88 vs. the Quest’s Excellent 81.
With 23 mpg overall, the Mazda5’s fuel economy is much better than any minivan CR tested and is on par with some family sedans. Smaller and more agile than traditional minivans, the Mazda5 is enjoyable to drive with responsive and well-weighted steering. The Mazda5 competes more directly with wagons, and at $24,670, costs considerably less than many wagon or minivan alternatives.
The Quest returned to the market after a year’s hiatus. It now ranks second in CR’s minivan ratings—only slightly below the Honda Odyssey— and scores points for its plush ride, quiet cabin, fold-flat seating, and luxurious amenities. Its 19 mpg is decent for a minivan. But the price of the tested Quest SL—$39,040—makes it the most expensive minivan CR has tested.
“If you have one eye on your growing family and the other on gas prices, you might want to consider the Mazda5,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. “It’s more fun to drive than a traditional minivan, but provides much of the utility of minivans including the sliding side doors. The trade-off is that it fits four adults and two kids vs. the seven or eight adults that fit into a minivan and cargo space is less.”
The full report on the two vehicles is available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org, and in the December issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands November 1. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR’s ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.
Of the two vehicles, only the Mazda5 is Recommended. Reliability is still unknown for the Quest. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.
Prices for the tested vehicles were $24,670 for the Mazda5 to $39,040 for the Quest.
The Mazda5’s small footprint makes it easy to maneuver in tight quarters. Handling is balanced and secure at its limits, and the car posted a high speed through CR’s avoidance maneuver. The Mazda5 Grand Touring ($24,670 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 157-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that provides average acceleration, although adding multiple passengers cuts into reserve power. It gets 23 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. Its five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is fairly basic but it’s nicely finished in top Grand Touring trim. The Mazda5 has space to carry people or cargo, not both; little luggage room remains when the third row is occupied.
The Quest rides as smoothly as many luxury cars, gliding easily over bumps and ruts. Its highway ride is smooth, and its cabin is very quiet. Handling is secure, and the steering is responsive, if lacking feedback. The Nissan Quest 3.5SL ($39,040 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 260hp-3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers livelier performance than the other minivans CR has tested and gets 19 mpg overall. Its continuously variable transmission is smooth and responsive. Braking is Very Good. While most minivans have basic interiors, the Quest’s opulent cabin would look right at home in an Infiniti luxury car. Cargo space is generous, although the third row no longer folds into the floor as it once did.
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.
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