2001 626 New Car Test Drive
Mazda's 626 is a sporty alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. V6-powered Mazda 626 models cost less than the hot Nissan Maxima, while four-cylinder 626s compare well with the Nissan Altima. So consider Mazda when shopping for mid-size import. Be different.
Extensively redesigned last year, the Mazda 626 is an attractive sedan, though, like the Camry and Accord, won't attract a lot of attention. More important, it comes with a much stiffer body structure than pre-2000 models, so it rides, handles, and stops better than ever. Its stiff chassis and well-tuned suspension give it a sure-footed feel that'll encourage you to press down the accelerator pedal as you exit a tight corner. And when you do, you'll appreciate the power Mazda engineers have coaxed out of the optional V6 engine. In short, the 626 is more fun to drive than most of the mid-size competition.
Further refinements for 2001 include a new, modular audio system. Like all Mazda products, the 626 comes with three years of free roadside assistance and slightly longer warranty coverage (to 50,000 miles); Mazda says its dealers will even provide a free loaner when and if your 626 requires warranty repairs.
Two trim levels are available: basic LX and the leather-trimmed ES.
Buyers can mix and match these trim levels with two different engines: a 2.0-liter inline-four rated 125 horsepower, and a 2.5-liter V6 rated 165 horsepower. Both engines feature dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.
Mazda supplies any combination of the above with a five-speed manual transmission, except for the four-cylinder ES, which comes only with a four-speed automatic. The autobox is an $800 option on the other models. (It is worth noting that Honda does not offer the Accord V6 with a manual transmission, and Toyota will build a five-speed Camry V6 only one mid-range trim level.)
In addition to its leather interior, the 626 ES-V6 comes with an eight-way power driver's seat and a power glass moonroof. Dual airbags, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and EZ Kool tinted glass are standard on all 626 variants.