The transmission went out at 70K miles but my extended warranty covered it. The radio had to be replaced twice. I had the cheap cloth seats replaced with leather. Road noise has always been an issue. Other than that, it's been a good, dependable car. I'm tall and have always had a lot of leg room in the front and back seat.
Nothing fancy. Comfy, quiet, mostly reliable, except for those model years with the 626 transmission. Disappointing to have had to rebuild the transmission at only 70-80K miles. Most mazdas go 200K. Feeling jipped.
Many interior plastic linings came loose. That was lousy fabrication/craftsmanship. Pity. Otherwise nice, simple car for short or long trips. Average mph.
For a v4 this car has some kick to it. Coming out of 1st and 2nd gear is pretty fast, but 3rd gear seems kind of sluggish. Overall this car has given me no problems besides the replacements of motor mounts upon purchasing the car and the transmission seems a little sketchy sometimes. Ironamicall the transmission is the only American part on this car so that'll tell you something about Japanese quality.
I bought my Mazda 626 2002 used in 2003 with 1500 miles, ran the heck out of it from state to state for three years with no problems what so ever. It was such a great car that when my daughter needed a safe car I gave her my Mazda because it was safe, reliable and perfect for her. She is still driving it today with no problems other than regular maint. It has well over 100,000 and will likely last another ten years. I have looked and looked to purchase another one for myself and can not find one for sale (I suspect they have stayed in families, just like mine.) Excellent car! FYI mine was not a manual
This car was highly recommended by a consumer publication in Canada provided it did not come with the automatic transmission. My car is a 2002 with the 4 cylinder and manual transmission. The engine is definitely underpowered but if you dont mind shifting down and revving a bit, you can use the ample torque at about 3000 rpm to supply a fun driving experience. The car currently has 200,000 km (120,000 mi) on it. I keep it very well maintained, even changing the shocks and springs which give it a better ride than when new. This also helped preserve the suspension components, which take a pounding on the winter-ravaged streets in Montreal.
4-cylinder engine is a sweet little power plant that never seems to want to quit. There is a nice punch to it in the higher torque range. The car has great value.
Rear trunk leaks, road noise is excessive, rear trapezoidal links prone to early wear