Bought this car new in 1996 (left over from previous year). Despite other opinions I love the way it looks and I consider it basically trouble free. Friends with Hondas and Toyotas envy me for the little trouble I had with it. Reached 145k miles and never got me stuck on the road. The only main problems I had were the oxygen sensor (changed it 3 times). I lately read Mazda 626 is known for faulty oxygen sensors. Changed timing belt twice as the book recommends. I think it was a really great car for the money, but now the catalytic converter needs some $800 repair job. I would buy Mazda again, but hate the looks of the new Mazda 6: too bulky. Will consider buying a 2007 Acura TL.
Decent power and mileage for a 4-cyl for a car from that age and great cornering capabilities. Love to drive it on twisted roads.
Windshield defogging should be better. It does not work well in humid weather unless you also use the air conditioning.