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Let's assume you're a new-car prospect who's ready to step up from a conventional, under-powered and sparsely equipped midsize sedan to a car with more style and performance. Let's further assume that you're reluctant to stray too far from the price range of your current sedan.
Are you being unrealistic? Not necessarily, if you put the 1994 Mazda 626 LX-V6 four-door sedan at the top of your list. Our test vehicle carried an MSRP of $20,745, placing it at the low end of the midsize sedan price range. And for that amount of money, we got a full complement of standard and optional equipment - air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with cassette player, many power assists, dual air bags and antilock brakes (ABS). Powering this package was a state-of-the-art 2.5l-iter, 24-valve V6.
Before you start scrambling for that down payment, though, you should be aware of some concerns we had about this car's size and overall roominess, in addition to some other minor complaints.
Ehe 2.5-liter, 24-valve V6 engine in our 626 LX-V6 produced 118 hp at 5,500 rpm. It wasn't the biggest nor the highest-powered midsize V6 sedan we've tested, but its breath-taking response did come as a pleasant surprise. We took the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph and from 60 to 80 mph in brief, pulse-quickening times and didn't even come close to redlining the tachometer.
The four-speed automatic transmission shifted a little harshly at lower speeds but teamed well with the V6 at higher speeds. When we were going faster, the car shifted gears so quickly that we didn't even bother to put the transmission's manual shifting option into action.
The V6 also featured a hold mode, which helped keep the transmission from shifting into overdrive-giving our driver more control on steep grades and slippery surfaces.
Extreme close-ratio, variable-assist power steering demanded only a quarter-turn of the steering wheel for most of the cornering and maneuvering moves we made. The car's front disc and rear drum ABS performed just as expected, and the four-wheel independent suspension contributed a firm but smooth ride.
The 626 LX-V6 was up to the task in fuel economy as well. The EPA sticker on our test vehicle listed a better-than-respectable rating of 20 city and 26 highway.
In terms of overall performance and price, we have no doubt that the '94 Mazda LX-V6 is an attractive vehicle for serious midsize sedan buyers to consider. Its contemporary styling reflects enough unique touches to enable it to stand out when compared to a uniformly nice-looking class of sedans for 1994.
Know going in, however, that the comparative lack of rear-seat room could be a problem, and that the car's overall size isn't nearly as impressive as that of the competition.
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