Passenger vans may be one of the most maligned classes of vehicles. From being called "Mom-mobiles" to being mocked extensively by those who have not experienced the comfort and ease of getting into and out of a van, vans just tend to get the short end of the stick. Why is this? Jealousy of the comfort and style that van users are enjoying, maybe!
The Honda Odyssey and the Mazda5 passenger vans are some of the better passenger vans in the group and while the Odyssey is quite a bit more expensive, both options are solid and offer good safety ratings as well as features. The Odyssey is certainly more refined and offers more options, but if you are looking for a simple people-mover that has a high degree of comfort, then the Mazda5 is perfectly acceptable as well.
As expected, the Odyssey offers more bells and whistles than the Mazda5, but the optional features for the Mazda5 make it a strong contender if loaded up. The important pieces are standard on each van - things like cruise control, an abundance of cup holders, power front and rear windows. Where the Odyssey differentiates itself is in the standard trip computer, service interval warnings, exterior temperature display, additional cabin lighting, and illuminated vanity mirrors. These little touches really bring the interior to life.
One of the joys of having a van is that the seating is notoriously comfortable, and these two vans do not disappoint. With 7-way power seats on the Odyssey and 6-way power seats on the Mazda5, both vans give you plenty of ways to settle in for a long trip with family. The Odyssey offers one additional seat standard for a total of 7 passengers but the split on the 3rd row bench of seats is slightly different: 50/50 for the Mazda5 instead of 60/40 for the Odyssey.
You may not expect vans to get excellent fuel economy as they look more like a large truck than anything, but the newest vans get excellent mileage: up to 28 mpg highway for the Mazda5 and 27 mpg highway for the Odyssey. Acceleration isn't terrible, either. Overall safety ratings for both offerings are favorable. Your decision between the two may come down to aesthetics and overall budget - if you can afford the perks, go with the Odyssey to get some neat extras.