Vehicle overview Throughout 2009, families across America re-evaluated their automotive wants and needs. While bigger and better used to be the norm, many people started considering smaller and less expensive vehicles. Should you be one of these families and happen to be looking at minivans in 2010, we suggest taking a look at the 2010 Mazda 5. This mini-minivan of sorts doesn't offer the cavernous space normally expected of such vehicles, but the Mazda 5's lower price, increased maneuverability and better fuel economy are all welcome gains. Under the 5's skin lies a lot of DNA from the Mazda 3, a class-leading compact sedan that sets itself apart with sharp handling and a solid European-like ride. This sporting heritage gives the otherwise utilitarian 5 a more athletic nature than anything else that shoulders the descriptor van. This, in addition to the relatively sleek styling, should dilute some of the uncool stigma attached to a traditional minivan. The Mazda 5 could be an alternative to another type of vehicle: the compact crossover. In tight parking lots, the 5's sliding rear doors make getting kids in and out of the backseat drama-free. The presence of a third row is another obvious advantage since only a handful of crossovers have one. Handling and on-road confidence is also better with the 5, especially with the addition of standard stability control for 2010. There are, of course, drawbacks to the Mazda 5's smaller size. Notably, the small third-row seat is suitable only for children, and that's only if you scoot up the sliding second-row captain's chairs. The Mazda 5 also seats a maximum of six, one less than regular minivans. It's therefore best to think of the 5 as a good car for small, young families who occasionally need just a pinch of extra room. If, however, you need room for three kids, Aunt Doris, a kayak and a week's worth of stuff for a road trip to Dollywood, you probably should stick with a full-size minivan. Of course, there are other vehicles to consider. The Kia Rondo is close to the Mazda 5 in design and concept, though it has traditional rear doors. The Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona are strong minivan contenders, while the Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4 are affordable crossover SUVs with available third-row seats. Yet the 2010 Mazda 5 is definitely worth a look for small families with an open mind to buying something a little different in these lean budgetary times.