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Mazda5 Carrying Kayaks

QuickbeamQuickbeam Member Posts: 23
edited April 2014 in Mazda
My wife and I are looking very seriously at buying a new Mazda 5 and I have read some reports that suggest the vehicle is underpowered. I have test driven it, and it seemed O.K. However, we are kayakers and plan on installing roof racks, and will at times be carrying two kayaks on the roof. We have "saddle" roof racks so the kayaks will be positioned almost on their sides. This means they will be sit fairly high above the roof. Was wondering if anyone else has done this and had any problems with a lack of power? How did the vehicle handle in a cross wind with kayaks on top? Was there enough power going up hills, etc., etc. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.


  • vg33e powervg33e power Member Posts: 314
    People continue to rant about the lack of power on our MZ5's including even Edmunds and other sources. IMHO, if you are looking for a snap neck launch and a 0-60mph sprint in under 6-7 seconds as in some V6 powered vehicles you will not find it in the MZ5. However, I would not categorize our MZ5's as underpowered. I feel that the power is adequate and it has no problem zipping up to highway speeds. 153HP is not to shabby and the 148lbs of torque is enough to get it moving. I took a 4 hour trip a couple of months ago to visit relatives and my MZ5 was loaded, me (220lbs), wife (115lbs), brother (185lbs), his wife (150lbs), son #1 (120lbs) and son #2 (80lbs), yes a total of six people and 870lbs. Unfortunately, since I had just got it I did not have my roof rack in place so the luggage had to go in my other brother's gas guzzling SUV that only seats 5. For the most part the entire trip consists of flat land with one 3-4 mile uphill section. Our MZ5 was constantly at 75-80mph (yes, I am a lead foot) and in the uphill section I simply shifted my auto knob to manual mode and kept it between third and fourth at a constant speed of 75-80mph. So I hope that my little story helps answer your concern, although I did not carry anything on top of my MZ5, with my lead foot and loaded up I still managed to get 27 mpg.
  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Member Posts: 525
    I just saw a YouTube review and made a good point wrt. Power: weight

    I believe this is not an eggs-2-eggs comparo, but:

    Mazda5 AT curb weight: 3475lb
    Honda Odyssey EX curb weight: 4475lb
    Toyota Sienna Limited: 4310lb

    This is almost 1000lb difference...
  • vg33e powervg33e power Member Posts: 314
    Just to piggy-back from coolmazda5's post.

    Mazda5 Grand Touring Auto
    3475 lbs. = 22.7 lbs. per 1 horsepower and 23.5 lbs. per 1 torque lb.

    Honda Odyssey Touring Automatic
    4693 lbs. = 19.2 lbs. per 1 horsepower and 19.2 lbs. per 1 torque lb.

    Toyota Sienna XLE Limited Automatic
    4266 lbs. = 16.0 lbs. per 1 horsepower and 17.4 lbs. per 1 torque lb.

    Clearly the most powerful and quickest from these three would be the Toyota Sienna, too bad it is also the UGLIEST.

    No thanks, for that little difference I will keep my much sportier, much gas frugal, much loved MZ5.

  • 5_more5_more Member Posts: 43

    Apparently I own the ugliest and the sportiest of the three mentioned vehicles. I'll confirm that the 3.5L Sienna is very fast, and the 5 can really corner well. The 5's body also resonates at ~50mph and the dashboard squeaks terribly when it is cold. There is a hack TSB for the resonance, and dealers are aware of the dash squeak, although neither problem has been resolved by Mazda yet.

    Regardless of vehicle, I'd consider pulling a $300 trailer with a low profile home-made cargo box and get on with life. No matter how much room you have for cargo, there will always be a need for more. Pretty soon the kayaks will have kids and there will be full canoes worth of life jackets, tents and paddles. Then come the bikes...

    With my previous minivan, the best mileage I ever got was pulling a 1500 lb. utility trailer. Believe it or not, a trailer can actually improve the aerodynamics of a vehicle that looks like a shoe box.

    As far as the kayaks and power are concerned, it's frontal area that matters (on flat roads) not weight.

    The 5 speed auto on the 5 is well matched to the engine. Unless you like to drag race teenagers, the 5's performance is more than adequate. If you do like to dispense with cocky drivers at stoplights, the Sienna does it with style. Nothing beats the feeling of getting dusted by a minivan with that's pulling trailer.

    I'd buy the Sienna again.
    I'd buy the 5 again.
  • vg33e powervg33e power Member Posts: 314
    Sorry bud! The "UGLIEST" term is subjective, dont take it personal. :)
  • 5_more5_more Member Posts: 43
    My shoe is in my hand, ready to go...
  • watkinstwatkinst Member Posts: 119
    None of the discussion above about weight impacts the question about performance with the kayaks on top of the car. Areodynamics and drag however do play a major role in the cars performance.

    It doesn't need to be this particular car to draw a sense of what sort of Impact the Kayak's will have on the Mazda.

    My subaru Legacy - with just an empty roof rack at highway speeds has a noticable slower passing acceleration than without the nakid roof rack - all due to the drag factor. Toss on MT bikes which will have equal or greater drag than kayaks and that drag factor goes up. Driving around town and at speeds say 45mph -50mph you will notice very little impact on your cars performance from the drag caused by the roof rack given your not generating a huge amount of drag vs the power your car has.

    Another way to look at it - think about how many trips you plan on taking with the kayaks on top of the car tie a percentage to that compared to all the other time your using the car - I suspect you'll find that the milege difference between the 4cylinder way - way out weighs the cost of the V6 or a larger more powerful car.

    The only other thought I would have is Kayaking and camping if your really into it you may find AWD and slightly better road clearance a nice thing when going to those out of the way places. A Subaru might be another option to consider though they are all standard 4dr - 4 seaters vs the Mazda MPV type layout.

    Hope that helps. Think Drag not weight.

    My landcruiser suffers from drag more than weight- major head wind sometimes 60mph is hard to maintain simply because I'm pushing a flat wall of a profile through the air even with the large engine. The weight being hauled is of little impact regarding highway speeds.
  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Member Posts: 525
    Well, good summary, but still the question is about the Mazda5 being underpowered, so everything counts and has an impact, including the weight, especially as the drag coefficient with the kayaks will increase *almost* equally regardless of the vehicle.

    Crazy example, but I'm sure driving a 4dr Toyota Echo will feel worse and with less power (especially with crosswinds) than a Mazda5 with exactly the same kayaks on the roof, so weight/engine power should still be relevant

    My 2 cents :blush:
  • 5_more5_more Member Posts: 43
    So here are the quick back of the envelope numbers:

    ... To drive 75 MPH with two kayaks, you'd be using about 60% of the available engine power, on flat roads with no wind.

    ... On a flat road, you could drive 75 MPH with two kayaks in to ~15 MPH head wind, before running out of engine power in 5th gear.

    ... With no wind, you could drive 75 MPH up a ~3% slope, with 600 lbs + the car's weight, before running out of engine power in 5th gear.


    The Mazda5 has a frontal area that is less than 2.86 m^2.
    At 75 mph, less than 27 HP is needed to maintain speed.

    Two kayaks would be on the order of 0.5 m^2.
    They'll be pretty aerodynamic, but assume they're not with a Cd of 0.50.
    At 75 mph, an additional 8 HP would be needed.

    So 2 kayaks + a Mazda 5 need roughly 35 HP to maintain 75 mph.

    Assume that the drive train is 80% efficient.
    You then need 44 "engine" HP to maintain 75 mph.

    Off the top of my head, I do not remember the exact RPM at 75 mph in 5th, and it does vary from auto to stick, but it's in the vicinity of 3100 RPM.

    Peak torque is 143 lb ft at 4500 RPM, but torque curves are pretty flat. Assume 85% of that at 3100 RPM, or 122 lb ft.

    Available (full throttle) torque of 122 lb ft @ 3100 RPM is somewhere around 72 HP.

    *** all numbers approximate, and a sea level
  • QuickbeamQuickbeam Member Posts: 23
    Thank you watkinst. That is the answer I was really looking for. It is not the weight of the kayaks that are a concern. Combined they weight slightly more than 100 pounds. That is not a great deal of weight. It is more the drag than the weight that concerns me. Another concern is cross winds. I would still appreciate it if anyone has any real experience with kayaks on top of their Mazda 5, especially so if you have the kayaks in "saddle roof racks" and could tell me how it has affected the handling and power of this vehicle.

    I'm pretty sure we are going to get this vehicle no matter what the answer, as hauling kayaks is not the only or even the major thing we will use this vehicle for. I do like the Mazda 5, I would just like to know what we are in for if we hit a cross wind or even a head wind with a couple of kayaks on top. I think your answer watkinst came closest to the information I was looking for, but I do thank all for the replies.
  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Member Posts: 525
    I'm pretty sure we are going to get this vehicle no matter what the answer

    Anyway, in summary, it will haul you around safely and it won't flip :D
This discussion has been closed.