2001 Mazda 626 Review
Pros & Cons
- Sharp steering and handling, simple interior design, V6 engine can be ordered with manual transmission.
- Styling that could still use more excitement, shortage of horsepower, side airbags not available on all models.
Edmunds' Expert Review
A bland, bread-and-butter sedan that's not big enough for families and not sporty enough for enthusiasts.
The Mazda 626 has been somewhat of a wallflower these past few years, watching the Ford Taurus, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry receive the most attention from people looking to buy a four-door family sedan. That's a bit unfortunate, as the 626 exhibits some solid attributes.
The Mazda comes in four trim levels: LX, LX-V6, ES and ES-V6. While by no means visually exciting, the 626 still manages to be an attractive sedan. LX and ES models have 15-inch wheels as standard, and the ES-V6 gets 16-inch wheels. The ES-V6 also comes with a sunroof, leather seating, an upgraded audio system, an eight-way driver's seat and heated side mirrors.
Mazda prides itself on building cars that are fun to drive. Aiding the 626's cause is a sporty suspension. Equipped with MacPherson struts up front and Mazda's Twin-Trapezoidal Link (TTL) suspension at the rear, the 626 grips confidently on twisty roads, while out on the highway, the suspension manages to soak up nearly every pothole without jolting passengers into instant kidney failure. The 626's steering and braking are also up to the task of providing a more rewarding experience than your average family sedan.
For power, the LX and ES feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 130 horsepower and 130 foot-pounds of torque. LX and ES cars fitted with the 2.0-liter engine qualify as ultra-low-emission vehicles. The 2.5-liter V6 puts out 170 horsepower and 163 foot-pounds of torque. While both engines are competent, they are a bit down on power when compared to the engines found in the top competitors in this class. Mazda does offer a manual transmission for both engines, making the 626 one of few family sedans available with a V6 and a manual transmission.
Inside, passengers are treated to a clean interior package. It's not exactly luxurious, but all of the controls are positioned for easy reach, with the exception of the rear defrost and traction control buttons, which are hidden behind the steering wheel. HVAC controls are easy enough for a 4-year-old to use, with two large knobs for fan speed and temperature, and two rows of push buttons to control venting, air circulation and air conditioning.
Seating is spacious for its class, but front passengers will be disappointed with the lack of lumbar support and headroom. Rear-seat occupants have a better deal, with good headroom and width for two, a set of cupholders, extra storage in the fold-down center armrest and magazine pockets in the back of the front seats.
Overall, the 626 is a solid alternative in the family sedan market. It's strengths lie in its sporty nature and cult appeal (well, for a family sedan, anyway). If you are in the market to buy a new family sedan, the 626 deserves some of your attention.