Completely redesigned and re-engineered for 1998, the Mazda 626 shows why it's a good idea to shop around. Mazda's 626 is often overlooked. Though it is Mazda's top seller, the 626 is a perennial also-ran in the incredibly competitive midsize segment sweepstakes. It's a solid and reliable sedan that's fun to drive, but it just never seems to get the amount of attention it deserves. There's an old rule of thumb that suggests new car buyers will only take a close look at the top three vehicles on their shopping list. So when it comes to family sedans, that means most people will test drive the nation's three best-selling passenger cars, the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Taurus. But the fifth-generation Mazda 626 is a good reason to break that rule. With some styling cues lifted from the luxurious Mazda Millenia, the all-new 626 presents a crisp and formal appearance. Its elegant exterior has been stretched more than two inches and houses a roomy, refined interior. But the changes reach well beneath the surface. The new body is stiffer, and the suspension is more sure-footed in a way that's likely to encourage you to press down the accelerator pedal just a wee bit harder as you exit a tight corner. When you do, you'll appreciate the extra power Mazda engineers have coaxed out of both the 2.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, and the smooth 2.5-liter double overhead-cam V6. Those who bother to check the window sticker, will discover the 626 is American-made. It's assembled at the Flat Rock, Michigan, plant Mazda shares with Ford and uses enough locally sourced components to count under government rules as a domestic model.