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Mazda5 posts highest score in Consumer Reports' ratings among a diverse group of family movers

Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010

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Ford Flex Eco Boost posts “Excellent” score, Toyota Sienna rates “Very Good”

Yonkers, NY — The Mazda5 microvan posted an “Excellent” score in Consumer Reports’ ratings, as part of a test in the September issue that featured three different types of family movers. Although smaller than a standard minivan, it is ideal for families on a budget.

“The Madza5 hits a sweet spot for families on a budget,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. “It provides most of the versatility and convenience of a minivan along with stingier fuel economy, more agile handling and a lower price.”

Also included was the Ford Flex EcoBoost three-row SUV and the redesigned Toyota Sienna minivan which posted “Excellent” and “Very Good” test scores, respectively. Prices for the vehicles in this test group ranged from $23,805 for the Mazda5 to $46,720 for the Flex.

The Mazda5 previously earned a Top Pick designation in CR’s Annual Auto Issue in the Family Hauler category. It is versatile and relatively roomy, despite its modest size. It has sliding rear doors, a small third-row seat, and seating for up to six. Consumer Reports opted to retest the ‘5 after it was upgraded for 2010, with electronic stability control.

While both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the Toyota Sienna posted “Very Good” test scores and it is a very good vehicle, it doesn’t measure up to the previous model, which had been CR’s top rated minivan for three years. It is still roomy and efficient with a smooth ride, but a drop in interior fit and finish and quietness, among other things, contributed to an overall drop in score. It now ranks below the top-rated Honda Odyssey and roughly on par with the Kia Sedona.

This is the second version of the Flex tested by Consumer Reports. This version is equipped with Ford’s EcoBoost engine which is turbocharged with direct-fuel-injection technology to optimize performance and fuel economy. The improvement boosted this version of the Flex to the top of the midsized three-row SUV category, below only the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which was rated an“Excellent” road test score.

A new model, the Honda Accord Crosstour crossover model was also tested for this issue and posted a “Very Good” score. Like the Acura ZDX and BMW X6, the more affordable Accord Crosstour has a tall stance and all-wheel drive, but the coupe-ish design hurts visibility, rear access, and cargo space.

While the Mazda5 is Recommended, the Toyota Sienna and the Flex EcoBoost are too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data. CR 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.

Full tests and ratings for all five vehicles appear in the September issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale August 3. The reports are also available to subscribers of Updated daily, is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The Mazda5 is more agile and fun to drive than larger minivans. It rides well, with good isolation over bumps. The Mazda5 Grand Touring ($23,805 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 153-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that performs adequately and gets 24 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The rear 50/50-split rear seatbacks fold easily into the floor when they’re not needed.

The redesigned Sienna used to compete head-to-head with the Honda Odyssey; now its test score is similar to the Kia Sedona, which also posted a “Very Good” test score. It has a very comfortable ride, a spacious and versatile interior, a smooth powertrain and good fuel economy. The Toyota Sienna XLE ($35,810 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 266-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers lively performance and gets 20 mpg overall, the best of any minivan CR tested. The six-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth. Braking is Very Good. The split third-row bench folds easily to create a large cargo area.

The Ford Flex’s boxy styling may strike you as either cool or homely, depending on your tastes. But CR’s engineers found the Flex to be a spacious and extremely practical vehicle. It’s quiet, rides comfortably and has limo-like room in the second row. The Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost ($46,720 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 355-hp, 3.5-liter turbo V6 engine that is powerful and gets 17 mpg overall, the same as the non-turbo Flex. Braking is Very Good. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Folding the seats is an easy task that opens up a large cargo area.

Whether you think of the Honda Crosstour as a raised hatchback or a crossover, it’s designed for those who want an SUV’s versatility, high seating position, and all-wheel drive without the bulky size or high fuel costs. But when pushed to its handling limits, it behaves more like a ponderous SUV. The Crosstour is a comfortable, quiet vehicle, with a smooth, responsive powertrain. The Honda Crosstour EX-L ($34,730 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 271-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 20 mpg overall. The five-speed transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The 60/40-split rear seats fold down in sections, but maximum cargo volume is modest.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
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Mazda5 posts highest score in Consumer Reports' ratings among a diverse group of family movers
The Mazda5 microvan posted an “Excellent” score in Consumer Reports’ ratings.
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