When my daughter was born, it was clear that I could no longer afford the luxury of owning a pair of two-seater sportscars. After agonizing for some time I sold the Miata and kept the MR2. In exchange, my wife and I bought a 1999 Mazda Millenia for $8500.00 in a private sale. I'd seen the car in parking lots and fell in love with the styling. When I researched it on-line and learned about its Miller Cycle engine, I realized that I just *had* to have one. I had my heart set on a white Millenia "S" model, but settled for a tan (or gold, or whatever you want to call it) Millenia that had obviously been well cared for. I've made the mistake of buying a poorly maintained car before and wasn't going to make that mistake again, especially given that I'd read about spotty reliability with the Millenias.
I believe that when buying used, your principal and primary concern, above all else, should be to find a car that's been well maintained. If the owner has service records, then all the better. That was the case for this Millenia, and I don't regret it at all.
As for my impressions of the car itself well, let me just say that this is a very comfortable and very enjoyable highway cruiser. It's a great car for road trips, smooth, quiet and quite pleasant to be in. I should note, though that this is my first and only "near-luxury" car, and so I have only ordinary Japanese compacts (Honda Civic, Subaru WRX) to compare it to. Soon after I bought the car, the Bose head-unit died on me. A local independent stereo shop was able to interface a JVC head-unit to the stock Bose amplifiers and speakers, though. Now I have a unit that sounds very nice for a stock setup, but also plays MP3 disks and includes an interface for my iPod. Even if your stock Bose headunit works fine, this would be nice upgrade, IMHO.
The Miller Cycle engine is a technolgical marvel and really provides this car with some satisfying punch. On the highway I've never wanted for passing power, and merging into fast traffic is a joy with the power I've got on tap. At 3700 lbs, this is a heavy car, and it really feels like you've got more than the advertised 210 HP on tap.
Gas mileage is OK, but not spectacular. I've logged 22 mpg over multiple tankfuls in my daily urban commute. on the highway I seem to get something closer to 26 or 27 mpg (a bit less than the advertised 28). To be honest, when I replace this car, I'll probably go back to a fuel efficient, frugal compact. It's no fun pumping $36.00 of gas into the car every time I have to fill up.
Reliability is this car's Achilles Heel, unfortunately. I've been lucky enough to avoid major repairs, but I've read plenty of horror stories. My most expensive repair so far has consisted of a complete brake overhaul (new pads and rotors) but honestly, that's not unexpected in a large car with 80,000 or so miles. Pads and rotors are basically wear items. I've had a few other niggling issues and learned how valuable a good independent mechanic can be. I've saved hundreds of dollars over what the dealer wanted to charge me for certain repairs. Luckily my transmission and supercharger seem to be holding out just fine. Those are both tremendously expensive items to replace, and I'd probably just buy a new car if either of these two items went south.
Over-all, I'm enjoying this car a great deal, and if I get a few more relatively trouble-free years out of it, I'll feel like it was $8500 well spent. I don't think I'd pay much more for one, though, and I probably would pass on one that had much more than the 65,000 miles that were on mine when I bought it.