I bought my car four years ago with a little over 70,000 miles on it. In that time, the only big repair I've had to make is replacing the axles due to the CV boots, which were busted when I bought it. Other repairs were minor, including new spark plugs, plug wires, new battery, and a valve cover gasket. Regular maintenance has kept it on the road and relatively problem- free. I trust it to get me to work and back and to occasionally drive almost the full length of Texas and back, which I've done a few times now. The car isn't sexy, but the looks have held up for close to ten years now. Not fun to drive because of the 4 cyl engine. It's just a tool to get from A to B, and it's done it well.
The fold-down rear seat allowed me to pack lots of big parts in the car and shave bundles on oversize shipping as I've been restoring a '66 Mustang in my spare time. It's been a life-saver on out-of-state parts runs.
The turning radius is terrible. Parking and maneuvering in a tight parking lot is sometimes a little harder than it should be.
This is my 2nd 626. It's been a reliable car and gets exceptional fuel economy. It has no frills, but gets me where I have to be... except in the snow. Like my first (1998) 626, it slides all over the place in snow. I've tried several different tires, including snows and there's no drastic improvement. I fear driving on snow-covered roads! The only cumbersome maintenance issue is having to replace a pair of bushings in the rear suspension every 20k-25k. You know when they're worn; the noise is deafening.I've got 105k on the car and really haven't had to put a lot into it. I plan to run it as long as I can up to 200k.
Great fuel economy, interior roominess, reliability.
Should not need to fuel an economy car with high octane gas, redesign the rear suspension to make it more durable. Put adjustable lumbar support in the front seats.
Needed rebuilt tranny at 65k. Needed another rebuild 20k later. Trunk leak created by factory defect - leaked water into spare tire well which would soak insulation and cause mildew. Starting to rust around rear tire well. 8k in maintenance and repair costs since I bought it used with 38k mi.
We bought this car out of the Hertz fleet with 26K on the clock. It was reliable early on, needing only a plug wire set and fuel pump (both replaced under warranty). Now at 100K mi the transmission failed to the tune of $2000, even though I have had it flushed twice and have been running Amsoil synthetic ATF since about 50K mi. Perhaps it would have failed sooner if I hadn't been proactive about the service and premium ATF. It is a Ford CD4E trans and is infamous for failing in this car. Mazda is apparently not standing behind it; there are no recalls and of course now it is out of warranty. The engine has been reliable but due to the trans failure Mazda has lost a customer forever.
Roomy and handles relatively well though I would not describe it as "fun to drive". The 4-cyl engine is noisy and lacks torque, but gets reasonable fuel economy. Nice looking body style still holds up.
Why list any? They don't make the 626 any more. We just bought a Honda. Now that I have paid to have the Mazda trans repaired it will be my daily driver and I will run the sucker into the ground, then junk it.