Got ours in January. Some observations...
We were all set to buy a Honda Element (in-laws have one), but I just couldn't get past the fact that it's strictly a 4-seater, Plus I didn't think we really had to drop $20K+ on a new vehicle, so I talked the wife into considering alternatives. I considered the Mazda 3 5-door, Kia Spectra 5, Suziki Forenza wagon, the upcoming Nissan Versa hatchback (last 3 for price more than anything), plus I threw in the new Toyota FJ Cruiser as a possibility (instantly turned down). Actually got her to the Mazda dealer to look at the 5, and although she still preferred the Element, she agreed the 5 was the more practical choice for us (toddler plus 7-year-old) so we ended up getting a Touring w/ automatic (she can't drive a stick, damnit) without the NAV system (does anyone need that crap?).
All in all, a great vehicle. Why the hell isn't Mazda marketing this thing? I hadn't seen one, or even heard of it, until I went to the Mazda site to check into the 3 5-door.
A few rants and raves...
- Handles like a go-cart, great fun to drive.
- Power is pretty good, don't know what all the reviews I read were complaining about.
- Since we don't really need the third row, the storage is wonderful.
- Didn't care for the manual-shift mode at first, but it has grown own me. Still think it's a gimmick though.
- Sliding doors are nice to have, definitely sets it apart from the Matrix/Vibe and similar competitors.
- It's the only "minivan" I could allow myself to own and still carry my man card.
- Front bumper chin could be an inch higher to clear some of the taller curbs like the one in front of our townhouse.
- The side sill extensions don't allow the optional mudflaps to be installed, so there's always crap on the rockers.
- The middle dome lamp is too far back to turn on from the driver's seat.
- There's barely enough room for my size 11 shoe around the accelerator, I frequently catch the edge of the brake pedal.
- There's no "dead pedal" for the left foot, so the carpet there gets crap on it. A plastic or metal piece would be nice.
- I hate the stupid auto climate control system, it should be purely optional regardless of trim.
- Rear "spoiler" doesn't seem to do much to keep the back window clean.
- Silly cartridge-style oil filter setup, dealer won't sell you the "tool" you need to change it.
- Just learned the Canadian market gets heated outside mirrors and the sliding doors that self-close the last few inches, why don't we?
- Standard 17" wheels. 16" tires with the same diameter/width are considerably cheaper, ride better, and protect the wheels better. I can live with a little less handling response.
- I think it's now mandated by the US govt. that all non-"car" vehicles have it, but I could do without the tire pressure monitor.
- I understand why they don't have 'em, but they could use an inboard front passenger and middle-row outboard armrests.
- No place to store CDs, and beyond that I'd like just a small non-covered storage spot in the center console.
And neither here nor there, but what's with the optional MiniDisc player? Does ANYONE use that format?