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null 1997 Mazda 626

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MPG 23 City / 30 Highway


Every time we drive a V6-powered Mazda 626 we emerge pleased and bewildered. The pleasure comes from the driving. The bewilderment concerns this car's relatively modest performance on the sales charts. Though it's neither the roomiest nor the most distinctive member of the vast midsize class, the 626 is one of the most gratifying to drive. It has the reflexes of a gunfighter, and Mazda's 160-hp 2.5-liter V6 engine--the same engine used in the Ford Probe GT sport coupe--lends real zeal to forward progress, especially when it's allied with the precise 5-speed manual transmission. But as hot as it is on the street, the 626's showroom performance qualifies as lukewarm. So what's the problem? Subdued styling? Sticker shock? To renew our acquaintance with this nifty middleweight contender, we selected an LX model, which falls in the middle of the 626 model range, with the V6 engine and standard 5-speed transmission.

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