The car transmission crapped out at 140,000 miles. We were lucky. Mazda 626 uses a Ford transmission. Beware this is a problem. We also have a engine light that comes on. After several attempts to fix the problems it still comes on. Other than that I liked the car We will be getting rid of it soon for something more reliable.
I bought this car new. Got an excellent deal because nobody wanted a V6 with a 5 speed. This car is a blast to drive. We had it now for 9 years with no major problem. Most expensive repair was replacing the timing belt, other than that basic maintenance. I would buy this car again.
I bought this car about 6 years ago with my dad's recommendation. He is a certified Mazda mechanic and he said the most reliable car on the road was the 626 4 cylinder with the manual transmission. Last week I had a timing belt tensioner spring break about 4-1/2 hours from home. So I ran it back at 80mph trying to blow it up. The motor sounded like a blender full of rocks, I just kept waiting for it to explode. But it kept going. Got it home replaced all the belts, plugs, wires, cap and rotor, water pump. And you can not believe how this car runs for a car approaching 200,000 miles. Quiet and smooth. That was the only maintenance I had ever done in 150,000 miles, besides oil and tires.
Rock solid reliability. Consistently 33 to 36 mpg. "Swing" feature on the motorized vents. Good handling, very fun to drive. If you find one of these cars that is not abused and had a manual transmission. IT will last forever. My last Mazda went 326,000 miles before getting hit by a semi.
I've just hit 97K on my '97 DX. The temp. sensor had to be replaced (thankfully under warranty) and the front tires wear down quickly. Other than that, my 626 has been good. I am a little worried about the transmission. No problems yet, but reading other reviews, it seems problems start around 100K. It makes me a little nervous. The car is a bit heavy for the size engine. The resale isn't that great (I am looking into a Camry/Accord, possibly trading in the 626 before problems possibly start). Overall, my experience has been good, so no horror stories. But I wish I had known the 626 was built in the same factory as the Ford Probe.
Interior is nice, handles well enough. I get good city mileage (26 mpg). Heats up quickly in winter.
Overall the car has performed fairly well. After first purchasing the car the check engine light went on. The car also ran rough. Just today I learned the car had a leaky heater coil; had it by passed for a 100 dollars instead of replacing the whole thing for about a thousand. The A/C on the car is wonderful; cools in about two minutes flat. Gas mileage is about 18 miles to the gallon. The paint is not very good on the car. I would recommend it for a first car for let's say a college student. If you are a real commuter I would not buy this car; instead I would by a Nissan or Honda - two much better cars.
The air conditioning is wonderful, the basic stereo is pretty good.
The power on the car needs improving. The transmission could shift a bit more smoothly.