I’ve owned three Mazda in my life, two 1996 626’s and a 2005 Mazda6. Outside of automatic transmission issues with the first ’96 (the second ’96 was a five speed manual), and the ’05 Mazda6.
These were sporty, solid cars that were fun to drive, reliable and comfortable.
They were not luxury vehicles but not “econoboxes” either, both 626’s had sunroofs and all came with pretty nice factory audio systems. Though I changed the second 626 to a Pioneer system that was even better. I mean in 1996 Mazda had a mid-level (LX), 626 that had separate tweeters in the dashboard.
So having sold my last Mazda in 2008, I sat in the new Mazda6 at this year’s Chicago Auto Show and I was impressed.
This was not the little cars I used to drive, it was luxury appointed, soft leather, sport steering wheel, really nice. The car was obviously bigger than my last Mazda6 and looked “grown up”. It had that next level look to it and still competing with the Nissan Altima.
Man my second 1996 Mazda 626 might be the best car I ever owned, great on gas, performed really well and with the rear seats down I could fit my mountain bike in the trunk with the front wheel off. I used to drive from the Southside to O’Hare everyday back then and didn’t mind with that car.
I traded it in with 165,000 miles on it and probably could have gotten more out of it but the clutch and pressure plate were pretty much shot.
The sunroof was inoperable (had gotten stuck open and I had to manually force it shut and seal it), and the repairs were more than what the car was worth. The 2.0 engine was strong, probably could have gone to 300,000 miles.
I’m hoping Mazda got back to that kind of quality but not losing any performance or as they call it “zoom zoom”.
The last Mazda6 I had was a slick looking car but not nearly the build quality of the 626’s. The automatic transmission had shifting issues, the driver’s side window would come off the track and the rear seat was coming apart.
For many years Ford was a major investor/owner in Mazda but in the past few years they were sold and are now independent again.
Mazda has long been involved with racing and performance technology, they revolutionized performance with the rotary engine the RX7 from over 30 years ago is legendary.
Not to mention they singlehandedly brought back the roadster with the Miata/MX6 back in 1990.
The “fun to drive”, DNA from those previously mentioned models was apparent in their other cars too. Didn’t always make for great fuel economy (unless you had a manual transmission), but they were good cars.
Often Mazda “flew under the radar” compared to Nissan, Toyota and Honda and for years their values have been under those other brands too but the cars are comparable.
Back when I was in high school my friend’s father (Frank & Ed), had a 1989 Mazda 626 and that was really nice and they got a lot of use out of that car.
Looking at this new Mazda6, I hoping they have returned to their top quality days because those cars are a deal and a car you won’t mind driving every day.
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Filed under: Cars