I am anticipating buying a new transmission for my 1999 626 within 2 years maximum, based on a transmission expert's comments when I took it in recently. The transmission had been slipping, and acting very strange. If it had been a standard I would have figured that it was slipping out of gear or the clutch was going out, but this is an automatic and what it was doing just didn't make sense. The repairman is a trusted friend of a friend, and ended up patching it up for free as much as they could, but he said it *will* go out and probably in a year or so. He said there are numerous problems with the transmissions in the FORD 626 and he's already replacing the transmissions in 2002's and 2003's.
Yes, that was FORD, not Mazda. Which is why I'm disappointed. I bought something that was misleading. A friend from Columbia said Mazdas were so reliable that it was one of the few cars (that and the Subaru) that are good in the mountians and rough conditions in South America, and that it should be really reliable. Well, theirs are actual Mazdas made in Japan. Mine was made by Ford in Detroit, and it's based on the Ford Probe's frame. The engine is Japanese and will last forever, but the transmission is poorly designed, weak, and prone to various failures. too bad I found that out after I bought it.
If it had a decent transmission this would be one hot car. The styling on mine is beautiful, it's black with some sporty molding and the nice wheel option, leather, and it looks beautiful. It's comfortable and has good acceleration. The gas mileage is reasonable for a mid-size car, and it's very roomy. I just wish I could trust it.
Maybe I'm prejudiced against american cars, but I've owned a Mitsubishi / Dodge Raider and a Toyota Corolla before. The Toyota was the best car in the world, but unfortunately I wrecked it. From now on, I'm sticking with Toyota, Subaru, or Honda. Period. Mazda is not necessarily the quality you would expect from a Japanese car, in fact the 626 is not Japanese at all. (Yes, I realize my old Corolla was made in partnership with GM, but it was so well built... and GM is fairly reliable anyway.) Forget the reputation that Mazda has for their other well-built vehicles; the 626 is a re-labeled Ford, not a Mazda. I don't plan on it lasting any longer than any other Ford would.
Such beautiful leather and options, a beautiful sunroof... it's such a pretty car and so comfortable. So why leave such a horribly critical show-stopper screwing up all the other beauty? If they would fix the transmissions, this would be one hell of a car. But since the transmissions go out so badly, forget it and buy something else that will last longer without major repairs of that nature.