Mazda's Miata bloodlines are quite apparent in the 626 ES V6
Normal wear and tear issues:
- Replaced timing belt, tensioner and pump (tensioner failed catastrophically at 122,000; suspected that timing belt had not been changed since new - $620).
- Replaced worn/destroyed front axle assemblies at 126,500 - $420.
- Purchased at 110,000 with recent, scheduled clutch replacement.
- Exhaust system replaced with OEM at 115,000, after failing due to normal wear and tear stress - $90 (performed in our home garage using a saws-all sparingly).
- Some issues during violent (we're talking literally typhoon-force) rainstorms with ignition coil, resulting in moderate to heavy misfires. But it is unlikely to encounter this type of storm more than once a year, if at all... Pennsylvania and New Jersey have some strange weather patterns.
The 2000 Mazda 626 is a fairly popular vehicle on the roads today in the United States. Today, these cars can be had for less than $5,500. I know this because my, almost fully-loaded ES V6 model cost this with 110,000 miles on the clock from a private used dealer.
From day 1, the car was solid, the 170-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 engine offers great performance in this category, especially when mated to the decent(but not great) 5-speed manual gearbox. Shifts are smooth enough, but the shifter leaves much to be desired.
The car is front-wheel-drive, which of course limits cornering performance. Understeer is very apparent when pushing this admittedly large, but light family sedan hard. However, with the Yokohama tires on my example, the 626 is not flummoxed by even moderate snow (3 in) or rain.
Speaking of suspension, this car offers a sophisticated system keeping in with Mazda's sports car mantra. This results in decent handling capabilities, but body-roll and understeer are still prevalent on this 11-year-old car. Mind you, when compared to the newer model, the 626 does fall short of expectations.
Inside, the ES V6 is appointed with full-leather seats, a Bose CD and cassette player that sounds okay, despite the Bose name. There is a manual A/C unit, heated mirrors, and an electric sliding sunroof. Luxury isn't offered in bounds here, but then again, Mazda isn't a luxury marque. The seating position is somewhat up-right, but is still comfortable, even for long hauls. My example did not have the electronic ABS system, which was a $990 optional extra.
Outside, the 626 is fairly nondescript. Styling is subdued, and though not pretty, the 626 isn't ugly or strange. The ES V6 rides on 16 inch alloy wheels with disc brakes all the way around. Braking is very good and the brake pedal offers a good feel, but after a short time of hard driving in the hills, fade is very noticeable. Again, my example did not have the electronic ABS system, but braking is still quite good, even in inclement weather.
In short, this car is a great vehicle for the budge-minded buyer or first-time driver who actually likes driving; the 626 ES V6 offers comfort, light speed, and reliability with care. And perhaps best of all, it isn't a Toyota.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th July, 2011