Powering the Mazda5 is the same 2.3L inline-four as in many Mazda products. The engine had been down in power from the original powerplant found in the Mazda3, and unfortunately, power is down again this year, now at 153 hp from 157. Torque remains the same at 148 lb-ft. We weren't particularly impressed with the power of the last Mazda5 we tested, so losing more won't help any. The power change hasn't affected fuel economy, however, which remains at 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with the five-speed manual and 21/27 with the new five-speed automatic. What did impress us, though, was the Mazda5's handling. Weighing in at an relatively svelte 3417 lb and riding on the same MacPherson-strut front and multilink rear suspension as the Mazda3, the Mazda5 felt rather sporty on windy roads during our 2006 test, while the beefed-up anti-roll bars result in surprisingly little body roll. The power steering has been enhanced to compensate for the additional weight. In emergency situations, the Mazda5 comes with ABS, as well as Electronic Brake Distribution, to keep brake force balanced front and rear, and Emergency Brake Assist to boost braking power in emergency stops. All Mazda5s ride on 17-in. wheels and a new-for-2008 Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Standard options on the 2008 Mazda5 are power everything, cruise control, A/C with a pollen filter, rear wiper with washer, second-row air vents and fan controls, second-row under-seat storage, second-row foldout table with storage space and cupholders, remote keyless entry, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System, driver and passenger front airbags and side curtain airbags for all, and an in-dash CD player with auxiliary inputs, steering-wheel-mounted controls and six speakers. Accessories include an in-dash six-CD changer, Sirius Satellite Radio with six-month subscription, an overhead DVD entertainment system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink, interior cargo cover, cargo net, all-weather floormats and a moonroof wind deflector.

Opt for the Touring package and you'll get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, standard in-dash six-CD changer, foglamps, black bezels for head- and taillights, LED taillights, a spoiler on the liftgate, side-sill extensions, and a tilt-and-slide moonroof.

Go big with the Grand Touring model and you'll also get heated leather-trimmed seats, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, an alarm, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, and automatic HID headlights. A voice-activated DVD satellite navigation system is optional.

All models get 24-hour roadside assistance, a comprehensive 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty.

Starting at $17,995 for the Sport base model and $22,515 for the Grand Touring, the Mazda5 packs a lot of features in a reasonably priced package. It's not often you'll find a minivan, micro or otherwise, that comes at a good price with a lot of comfort and good handling, so if you're in the market, the Mazda5 is a good place to look.

2008 Mazda5
Base Price $17,995-$22,515
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, 5-7-pass, 4-door Mini-van
Engine 2.3L/153-hp/148-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 5-speed manual; 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3417-3475 (mfr)
Wheelbase 108.3 in
Length x width x height 181.5 x 69.1 x 64.2 in
Headroom, f/m/r 40.7/39.4/37.1 in
Legroom, f/m/r 40.7/35.2/30.7 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 55.5/55.6/49.2 in
Cargo volume 70.9 cu ft
Weight dist., f/r 56/44 manual, 57/43 automatic
EPA City/Hwy Econ 21-22/27-28 mpg
CO2 Emissions 0.80-0.83 lb/mile