What's New for 1999
After a major makeover in '98, the 626 slides into '99 with only one major change: a new height-adjustable seat for the driver.
The 626 has been Mazda's bread-and-butter car for over 10 years but, unlike most sedans in it's class, the 626 offers more than just people-moving utility. In typical Mazda fashion, the company has injected a bit of soul into the 626 that helps make it a blast on twisty roads while still providing excellent interior accommodations and roominess.
This mid-priced sedan has seen a number of upgrades with the most recent coming last year. Changes included a larger interior, a more powerful engine, an improved transmission, and standard traction control on V6 models. In size and price, the 626 competes with a wide range of cars in the U.S. market, but offers more solid engineering and sporting performance than most.
Buyers can select from three trim levels: entry-level LX, uplevel LX V6, or top-of-the-line ES. A 125-horsepower four-banger motivates the LX, while higher trims get a 170-horsepower V6 engine. Either motor can be mated to your choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
A CD player is standard on all models. Other goodies include antilock brakes, fade-out interior lighting and engine-speed sensing rack-and-pinion steering gear.
The 626 (built in Flat Rock, Mich.) was the first Japanese-branded sedan to be called a true domestic by government agencies, yet it remains as reliable as a Timex. With an upscale image and nimble handling manners, our favorite model is the ES V6 with a five-speed manual transmission. Order the ES Luxury Package and you get 15-inch alloy wheels with 205-60R 15 tires, a power moonroof, map lights with a sunglass holder, six-way power driver's seat, and an anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer. It's the perfect grocery getting/entry-luxury/sports sedan for those who like to drive, but require the talents of a mid size car for day-to-day living.