2000 626 New Car Test Drive
For import buyers looking for a solid, reliable midsize family sedan, there are plenty of options to choose from. Yet only two cars dominate most shopping lists: the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.
If you had to pick just two, that's not a bad starting point. But why limit yourself? Accord and Camry are excellent choices, but they're not the most exciting cars in the world. There are plenty of other great options on the market these days, some of which are just as roomy, just as reliable, but far more fun to look at and drive. Mazda's 626 is a perennial also-ran that just never seems to get the amount of attention it deserves. It should be on more shopping lists.
This fifth-generation Mazda 626 presents a crisp and formal appearance that's far more refined than the previous generation. It was stretched more than 2 inches when it was redesigned for 1998 and the interior is much roomier than before.
Mazda's 626 offers a stiff chassis and well-tuned suspension that gives it a sure-footed feel that'll encourage you to press down the accelerator pedal just a wee bit harder as you exit a tight corner. When you do, you'll appreciate the power Mazda engineers have coaxed out of the engine. In short, the 626 is a more fun to drive than most mid-size sedans.
Two trim levels, LX and ES, are available.
Buyers can also choose between two engines: LX and ES come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 125 horsepower. LX-V6 and ES-V6 come, as their nomenclature suggests, with a 2.5-liter V6 rated at 170 horsepower.
All come standard with a 5-speed manual transmission except the ES, which comes standard with a 4-speed automatic. An automatic is an $800 option on the other models.
626 ES-V6 comes with a high level of standard equipment, including a leather trimmed interior, a six-way power driver's seat and power moonroof. Dual airbags, remote keyless entry and an anti-theft engine immobilizer are standard.
Retail prices: LX ($18,445); ES ($20,645); LX-V6 ($19,645); ES-V6 ($22,645).