93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 4:55 p.m.

So I currently have an 04 Element autotragic with 145k miles on it. It is uber practical but a dog to drive. I have a new manual Mazda 3 on the way. I am trying to decide if I want to upgrade the Element with a manual swap and suspension rebuild (new bushings, SC rear swaybar and BC coilovers). Or try to find a Mazda 5 manual. The 5 does get better mileage and have a small third row. I'd also assume the front seat is more supportive or I could steal a seat out of a Mazda 6 or Mazda 3 or something. But for minuses there is less part availability and it seems like there would be less vertical room in the 5.

I want something that a) has van like practically to haul bikes or handle a hardware store trip, b) be somewhat fun to drive on a twisty road and c) be able to handle an autocross or two a year (if either the Civic is getting repaired or I go up to my parents hometown and want to run an autocross at the Corvette Museum).

So any one with experiences with both? Or suggestions? Or just want to call me and idiot?

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/17/22 5:01 p.m.

I'm quite happy with our 2014 Five, even though it's a five speed automatic. That said, I would consider a Fit if you were thinking about autocross, and it's going to be a lot easier to find one with a manual.  There's a few of them that compete locally. 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 5:07 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

A Fit is too small. It would not be often autocrossed honestly since I have my 93 Civic that is being slowly rebuilt as a XS class car.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UberDork
5/17/22 5:18 p.m.

What kind of mileage are you getting in the Element?  My '08 Mazda5 (autotragic) barely eeks out 21 mpg.  I've seen as low at 18 around town and only 22 when driving mainly interstates.  However, I'm regularly amazed at how much it carries.  Brought home a new tall size water heater in it a few weeks back and probably could have put two more in it.  Twin size matteress fit in it no issues.  Son was able to bring home his HF 5 drawer mechanics toolbox and all the boxes to store the tools in to travel and still had tons of room.  The low rear bumper height and totally flat floor with the seats down help make loading easier.

It's fun to drive, but I can't imagine autocrossing would be fun because it's so tall.  Heck, I wonder if they would let you as I know there's a width to height requirement for autocrossing.

They both do what they're designed for very well, so it would be a hard choice for me. 

-Rob

eastsideTim
eastsideTim PowerDork
5/17/22 5:25 p.m.

Hauling bikes inside my 5 is doable, but not fun.  Need to lay them on their side, and with the 26" mtn bike, the front wheel is removed to make it easier to load and unload.  Of course, stacking them that way means untangling pedals from wheel spokes.  I went with a hitch mount rack this past year to make life easier.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/17/22 5:38 p.m.

Previously owned 2010 Mazda5 with auto.  

Its a great kid hauler.  Its zippy for what it is but it probably more akin to the Element than it is the Mazda3 for "fun driving."  We stuffed a lot into it over the years.  

I can't imagine autoxing the Mazda5.  Agreed, if that's a goal, Honda Fit is the answer.  

The rear seats are "for temporary use" in my opinion and only for kids ages 4-12.  You can put a booster seat back there but nothing larger will fit.  Speaking of fitting, kids bigger than 12 wont love it back their either.  It will be recognized as second class seating due to the cramped quarters but young enough and they might see it as fun.  

 

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
5/17/22 6:00 p.m.

I currently own John's old 5. We like it a lot but I don't know that it would be an upgrade over an Element.

With a manual it would be quicker in traffic, but it's still 4 cylinder hatchback power in a heavier van-shaped body. The front seats are not amazing. Not bad, just not great.

I have not driven the 2012+ version, they have the 2.5 and might be more comfy.

The Honda will definitely last longer and hold its value better.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 6:05 p.m.

In reply to eastsideTim :

I have a 1Up hitch mount. Bikes in the car are just if I am going in somewhere and don't want to leave them on the rack

wae
wae PowerDork
5/17/22 6:09 p.m.

We've got a 2013 5 with the 6-speed.  Fun to drive, it acts like a much smaller car.  It's easy to find yourself in the wrong gear, though, as it doesn't really have a ton of torque at the low end.  Or, really, at the high end, if we're being honest.  It's not a fast car, but it is really nimble compared to anything else that has 6 seat belts and 4 wheels.

If you're moving adult-sized humans, it's a 4-seater.  Around town, we will take short trips with all five of us, but often my wife will sit in the back because she's Korean enough to fit back there.  I don't have a snowball's chance in hell's kitchen of fitting, and the teenage girls can fit, but it's not a real elegant process.  Longer trips are pretty tough.

Devoid of people, you can put the seats down and get a good amount of room, but like Tim says, bikes don't stand up.  Despite the sliding doors, it's really more of a 3 wagon than a minivan.  We've moved some big, bulky things with it, though, and it's not been a problem.  The hatch opens wide and it's low to the ground for easier loading.  The dogs like the space in the back with the third row down.  Speaking of the third row, it's a split configuration so you can put on seat down for some space if you're moving 5 folks.  With the seats up, however, there is almost no room.  A gallon of milk and a couple bags of groceries is all you get.  There are some good D-rings back there for tie-down purposes, though, once you put the seats down.

I find the seats to be comfortable and you seem to get a somewhat upright position compared to a 3.  The armrests are kind of chinzy, but they swing up out of the way when you don't want them and they provide pretty ergonomic positioning when you flip them back down.  I don't know, I just feel like I'm going to break the things.  You couldn't get the third pedal and bluetooth or leather seating, so if you want those things you'll need to figure that out on your own.  I added a double-din digital media head unit to ours.  If you do that, don't put your microphone in the factory location under the dash over the gauge cluster.  That might work for whatever microphone Mazda uses, but your's will pick up the driver's voice faintly while providing the other end of the call with a front-row seat to the sound of your turn signal.  Maybe it's just my kids, but the cloth seats have seemed to have attracted every stain within 30 miles.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 6:14 p.m.

In reply to wae :

Third row would really just to possibly haul for short trips around town because I could see it looked tiny. Don't care about Bluetooth or anything

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 6:16 p.m.

In reply to rob_lewis :

I get about the same in my Element. I was looking at the EPA mileage and it looked like the manual 5 got a couple better combined according to their website. Not a massive deal because it wouldn't be the daily.

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/22 6:30 p.m.

Get a TSX 6 spd to swap in and see 26-29mpg highway on the Element, even if you fit stupid oversized AT tires on it. (Warning, AT tires will cause you to eat wheel bearings) 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 7:20 p.m.
John Welsh said:

I can't imagine autoxing the Mazda5.  Agreed, if that's a goal, Honda Fit is the answer.  

Not the goal. More like a back up option.

I am open to other options but they need to much bigger then a Fit.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/17/22 7:35 p.m.
93EXCivic said:
John Welsh said:

I can't imagine autoxing the Mazda5.  Agreed, if that's a goal, Honda Fit is the answer.  

Not the goal. More like a back up option.

I am open to other options but they need to much bigger then a Fit.

as others have said, the 3rd row of the 5 is basically useless unless you're dealing with kids ages 5-12 who can get themselves into the back without help and are also the right size for the seats.

everything you're describing sounds like an exact use case for a honda fit. I'd be willing to bet you can pull a front wheel and have the bike in the middle of the car faster than you could do the same loading it into the trunk of the 5.

But what it really sounds like you need.. is an acutal minivan with a V6.. that will get the same highway mpg as the element or better with 70-100 more HP and WAY more carge space.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 7:59 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

I don't need the third row. It would just be nice. We have a CX9 right now which has a tiny third row and it is nice every once in while but very rarely like when brother in law and his wife are in town. We can all fit in one car to go to an in town sporting event or brewery. It will be replaced by a CX50 next year. So the 5 would be nice for that occasional third row use but not required. 

I don't want to go much smaller then an Element and I don't want or need a full out minivan and a manual is a must.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/17/22 8:16 p.m.

If it must be manual, your options are few.  

Just another thing to keep in mind.  For everyday use, that is assuming that you keep the 3rd row down, the Mazda5 is then just a 4 seat car.  Or said another way...  If you bring cargo, the Mazda5 is a 4 seat car where as a CX5 can be a 5 seat car with cargo. 

However, the Mazda5 does move 4 adults comfortably.  

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/17/22 8:28 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

The Element is only a 4 seater to. But really I am right now I am leaning towards keeping it and making some mods plus the devil you know. The 3 row would be nice for short trips but very much not required and once the kid is out of a rear facing it might give us room to fit 5 for that kind of trip in the CX50.

I can't think of anything else that gives similar room vertically and horizontally as the Element (Fit, xB and soul are too small and wagons are too short) with a manual. The 5 was the only thing I could think of that was semi modern.

johndej
johndej Dork
5/17/22 8:52 p.m.

Here's a manual Mazda 5 I've actually been tempted to look at in north western Virginia

https://harrisonburg.craigslist.org/cto/d/harrisonburg-2014-mazda5-sport/7475845861.html

Only 9 hrs away but I haven't seen many out there.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
5/17/22 9:01 p.m.

I'd say keep the Element. The Fit would be my other option. After seeing pics and videos from the big Element meetup at the Dragon this weekend. I forgot how cool they are and how nifty they can be. As others have said, 6-speed swap and a supercharger would make it wake up. 

Hitch mounts for the bikes or a roof rack. 

AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/17/22 9:29 p.m.

Mrs AAZCD has been driving an Element since 2006. 5-speed manual FWD and got about 27 mpg on average a couple years ago when I checked. It's great for what it is, but I can not imagine it being competitive in any motorsport unless you find a group that creates an 'Element Class'. I've never driven a 5 so I can't comment on them, but reading the comments here, I think that it would still be a trade-off and not really fulfill all that you are asking for.

Then I remembered Dajiban: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/news/word-day-dajiban/

You need a Dajiban:

I want something that a) has van like practically to haul bikes or handle a hardware store trip, b) be somewhat fun to drive on a twisty road and c) be able to handle an autocross or two a year ...

 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/17/22 9:46 p.m.

Our 2014 Five got 30 MPG on two consecutive tanks on a road trip last summer, running about 75-80. Four of us, plus luggage and two heavy ice chests.

Off the interstate with slower speeds, I got 31. These aren't dash read outs, I calculate mileage with each fill.

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
5/19/22 7:19 a.m.

My 2010 Five averaged 26-27 mpg all day long. Highest I ever got was low 30s on a long trip.

That Five for sale on CL in Virginia looks pretty solid. I believe 14 was the last year for the 6 speed manual in the states.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
5/19/22 9:19 a.m.

Neither of those will be eligible for autocross without major changes.  The 5 is 3" on the wrong side of the stability rule.  The Element is 9" over.

Which 1up hitch rack do you have?  The 2x and up racks only work on 2" receivers and you can't get one for a Mazda 5.  You can for an Element.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/19/22 9:58 a.m.
ProDarwin said:

Neither of those will be eligible for autocross without major changes.  The 5 is 3" on the wrong side of the stability rule.  The Element is 9" over.

Which 1up hitch rack do you have?  The 2x and up racks only work on 2" receivers and you can't get one for a Mazda 5.  You can for an Element.

I have the 2x.

I am talking to a guy who autocrosses an Element and I will double check with him on how he got his there. I mean BC Racing coilovers will take a lot of that out. Honestly autocrossing is the least of my worries for the car so keeping the practicality of the car and making it more fun to drive would be good enough if I can't get it to meet rollover rules. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
5/19/22 10:04 a.m.

Yeah with a 2x you are looking at a custom hitch or one of those goofy adapters.  The Element is probably better suited for that rack.  The 5 is probably better suited for LowesDepot runs just due to more interior length.

 

The only way he could get there for SCCA purposes would be to lower it a TON and widen the track a TON.  9" is well outside the realm of achievable without massive compromise.  

 

What you want is exactly what I wanted when I bought my Soul.  Such a vehicle doesn't really exist :(

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