Got my first one in 2002 with 120k on it, drove it for another 100k when the transmission finally crapped out. Liked it so much, I found one on eBay with 100k on it, bought it drove it cross-country (PA to CO) sight unseen and had zero mechanical issues with it. Had a timing belt fail about 6 months later, but other wise it's been great. It has a persistent oil leak (dunno where), and the A/C pooped out a while ago but that's pretty minor for a run-around/short-distance commuter car. I wish it has cup holders (tired of spilling beverages), but it still runs strong, no other mechanical issues. VERY pleased with the quality/longevity of both of these vehicles.
Cheap, small, easy to drive, plenty of power, good handling, easy to work on (routine maintenance), comfortable, sufficient cargo capacity for two (plus gear) but it would be small for three/four.
CUP HOLDERS. I doubt Mazda is going to go back and retrofit them at this point, but it would have been nice. Also, a better center armrest (taller/longer).
Best car ever! Runs with minor repairs: intake tube, clutch, air conditioning long gone, interior feel apart, but replaced it. Clutch problems lately, replaced radiator. Brakes several times. Leaks oil now, quart a month. Automatic seat belt and windows going. Still love it, and trying to hang on to it till it's twenty. Well worth the money!
Cup holders, but I think this has been added to the newer models.
I have just replaced my loyal Mazda 626. Bought it in 1998 and it now has 178,000 miles. Really still love it but it has NO HEAT. Tried everything. The two major problem areas I have found are, 1) rear main seal. Every Mazda I have had leaks oil from the seal. Had this one replaced and it only lasted about two years and started leaking again. 2) Radiator. For some reason Mazda radiators develop leaks at the top where the I.D. imprint is. Car went through two radiators and I gave up. Otherwise I really loved this car and it was great driving, great handling and very reliable.
My son bought this car in high school. I inherited it when he bought a Prelude in 2003. I use it as a commuter. Absolutely a great car! I have 148,000 miles on it now, purchased with 115,000. Of course, it required some repairs and I wonder if it is wise to spend the money. But the car has rewarded my decision by running and running and running. AC is ice cold, power windows, door locks, cruise control, intermittent wipers all work. I love zipping by all the SUV's stuck at the gas pump -- 23 miles per gallon city driving with AC. Love the 5-speed box. My mechanic who is a Chevy man said "Nice little car but don't tell anyone I told you that." This from a Corvette owner.
Performance, economy, handling and reliability, reliability and reliability. Very comfortable and supportive seats.
Small glove box. "Tinny" sounding doors. Where are the cup holders?
I've had my 1990 Mazda 626 for the past
11 years. For the most part, I've only
had to do maintenance like changing
belts, oil changes, tuneups. I just
recently changed the radiator which is
good for a 14 year old car. The
transmission is fine. The only thing I
wish is that the exterior held up.
Solid feeling car. Most cars today
look cheap inside like they'd crumble
on impact at 10 MPH.