ABC7 On Your Side: Mini-minivans

GLENDALE A minivan is a good way to move people and things around, but they can be expensive and aren't the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road. A small car is usually great on gas, fun to drive, and can be purchased pretty cheaply -- but it can only carry so much.

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The MAZDA5 is sort of a combination of different types of vehicles -- sort of a mini-minivan.

"So it does really kind of achieve all those things that really combine the best of each of those segments and really rolls it into one," said Jeff Horne.

The MAZDA5 has gotten a few changes here and there for '08, one of which is a re-tuning for slightly better fuel economy. It's also equipped with minivan-like things, such as rear seat A/C vents and an optional navigation system

When Mazda first brought it out about three years ago when gas was around $2.50 a gallon and the economy was strong. But things have changed since then.

"We see more opportunity going forward given the current economic situation, gas prices increasing, people kind of looking at really what they need and perhaps maybe downsizing to fit their lifestyles," said Home.

This class of vehicle is pretty popular in Europe, where gas has traditionally cost a lot more than ours. They're referred to as "space wagons."

A lot of family buyers say they want a vehicle with a third-row seat, but usually that means something pretty big. Well, the MAZDA5 comes in at a very reasonable size.

Yet it does have three rows of seats and will hold a total of six people in reasonable comfort. And as is common these days, the seats can be folded for more cargo space.

It also has a sliding door on each side, which makes it easy to get people and things in and out. The downside is that many people associate sliding doors with minivans and don't want to be seen in a minivan -- even a small one.

Nevertheless, the MAZDA5 could be a good choice for people who want some interior room, but not with the price or fuel consumption of a bigger vehicle.

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