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First Drive: 2012 Mazda5

Mini to the max.

by on Feb.28, 2011

For 2012, the Mazda5 gets its most complete makeover since its '05 introduction.

American waistlines aren’t the only things getting bigger and bigger by the year.  Perhaps fittingly, our automobiles have steadily grown in size, so many models that once fit comfortably into the compact category are now classified midsize – or even larger.

That’s especially true when it comes to minivans, today’s models having grown to such massive proportions that the modifier, mini, no longer accurately applies.

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Parked side-by-side, Mazda’s newly redesigned Mazda5 seems downright puny compared to industry mainstays like the Honda Odyssey or Dodge Grand Caravan.  But, in reality, the 2012 Mazda5 remake is a full four inches longer than the original 1984 Caravan and just one inch narrower.  And like those early minivans, Mazda’s offering makes surprisingly good use of its seemingly limited space.

Packing in three rows of seats, and plenty of cargo – including some trick storage beneath the sliding center row seats – the Mazda5 puts a premium on flexibility.  But it also emphasizes styling in a segment where form usually takes a back seat to functionality.


Nissan Eyes Growth in Commercial Sector

New NV to be followed by battery van and other models.

by on Mar.12, 2010

The 2011 Nissan NV commercial van will be offered in standard and tall configurations and, eventually, with battery drive.

Nissan rolled out its new commercial van at the National Truck Equipment Association’s annual Work Truck Show in St. Louis, this week, and is also suggesting the small van will be among the first electric vehicles to follow the Nissan Leaf sedan into the market.

Before the work truck show, Nissan North America Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Joe Castelli said the company is determined to expand its presence in the commercial market. Nissan’s commercial vans already are sold in 75% of the world’s markets, including Japan, China, Mexico, Europe, South America, Australia and the Middle East. Other manufacturers including Daimler AG, Chrysler, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have or are promising to step up their activity in the commercial vehicle segment over the next couple of years.

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The new NV, however, is only one of the commercial vehicles Nissan is planning to sell in the US. A small van will also be introduced in the US next year and, after that, an all-electric version of the small van will come to the US market, Nissan officials said.

The new full-size van, which was shown in St. Louis, comes in two versions — standard and tall. It capitalizes on Nissan’s experience around the world. The tall version comes with a cargo box that is 76 inches tall and the standard 4-foot-by-4-foot by 4-foot cube-shaped palate slips easily into either the tall or standard-size cargo box, Nissan officials said.