This car is great IF it's been taken care of and the maintenance has been done on it when scheduled. I bought the car from my grandma who bought it from brand new and only had 30,000 miles on the odometer. Now I've doubled it plus some. It's been great on trips and has never let me down. Drives very smoothly for the most part, and is really comfortable this side of a luxury car. The seats are amazing (I have the leather seats) both front and back, though weirdly the back seat does not have cup holders at all. Interior is nice enough for a high end mainstream brand, but nothing that is extravagant.
The power is fine... just have to tap into it. Compared to similar cars (Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc) it is less power, but for normal drivers who just commute and don't speed all over it does the job just fine. Transmission works well enough, though it's not the smoothest transmission it's still working. I'm not sure if the transmission issues affect the V6 versions compared to the I4 cars. Gas mileage is only so-so, I get about 20 in the city off a tank, and 25 with a small bit of city and mostly highway. I did see close to 29 mpg driving across country to visit a friend several states away, on interstate going 75. It does recommend premium fuel (which these mileage figures are based on) however it is not REQUIRED. The ignition system can adjust itself to take advantage of higher octane fuel or run on regular. Does great in the snow though! Plows through snow great and doesn't get stuck unless it's a lot of snow.
Like I said before nothing really to leave me stranded. I've had the valve cover gasket replaced once due to leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold, a small leak fixed in the coolant system, some light bulbs in the dash, the drive belts replace (not the timing belt), and the negative battery terminal that had rusted to the breaking point. I don't see these as a reliability issue (besides the gasket which is but its a common problem with this engine; also the gasket isn't cheap according to my mechanic,) but as normal wear on cars of this age. I am taking care of this car the best I can and doing regular maintenance when it's called for in the owners manual. I know there were some things done before I got the car but as far as I am aware the work done was due to the low mileage it had seen (radiator was replaced, front rotors replaced though this was due to my grandma's driving style).
TL;DR: It's a great car if it's taken care of and properly treated, gets decent/ ok gas mileage depending on driving style, and is extremely comfortable.
This was my very first car at the age of 15 with my driver's permit. I learned how to drive in this car so you could say I have a biased opinion towards it but after driving many different models and owning a 2001 Chevy Lumina and a 2012 Ford Focus (absolute garbage, never buy a Focus or a Ford), this Mazda still wins hands down. For being over a decade old at the time of owning it, it felt very sporty and aesthetic compared to my peers' vehicles. It still looks nice compared to boxier models in the 90's and even early 2000's. My 2001 Chevy Lumina looks like an old granny car compared to the 1999 Mazda 626. It's a stunning car in candy apple red. The interior was also pleasing to the eye. Lots of plastic but it didn't feel cheap like my 2012 Ford Focus does. The controls were easy to change while driving. I can't comment on the stock radio because mine had a custom Pioneer installed when I got the car, but the sound from the stock speakers was much more "tinny" than my Lumina. If that isn't as important to you as the performance then I would absolutely still recommend this car. With a V6 I had no problems getting up to speed and maintaining that speed. I've yet to drive a car that could match my Mazda's power. And it still got pretty decent gas mileage, I averaged 20-22 on the highway and 15-18 in the city. The only downside to this car is its issue with belts and the transmission. I replaced the serpentine belt twice in one month and the alternator belt broke while I was driving home and I had no idea until the battery light came on and I literally rolled to a dead stop in my driveway. The alternator belt was only a couple months old when it snapped. The other issue is the transmission, Mazdas are notorious for trannys having short lifespans. Towards the end of my ownership, the transmission would buckle and jerk when upshifting. If I'd had the money at the time, I would have repaired it because I loved the car, but unfortunately I had to sell it as is and get a more reliable car. My 2001 Chevy Lumina gets great mileage and I have not spent a single dime on repairs in the 4 years I've owned it (WOW!) but I still miss my Mazda 626.
I bought my 1999 Mazda back in May , It has 207,000 Plus miles all I have done to it is Oil Change and Lub . I like all the extra features which are to many to disribe . After owning a Ford -150 4 X 4 I enjoy the Gas Milage I get on The Mazda .
Power Windows , Power Door Locks , Headlights shutoff automatically, and many more