New Car Review
1994 MAZDA 626 LX V-6 SEDAN
by: BILL RUSS
SEE ALSO:Mazda Buyer's Guide
It has been 15 years since the 626 first appeared in Mazda dealerships. The newest 626 mid-size four-door sedan bears little resemblance to the introductory 1979 model. Its in-line four-cylinder engine can be replaced in some models by a multi-valve V-6. Power is now transmitted to the front wheels rather than the rear ones. The current rounded-wedge design has long supplanted the former square three-box look of the eighties. Since 1989 the Mazda 626 has been produced in Flat Rock, Michigan just south of Detroit, in a joint-venture plant that is the result of an inter-corporate agreement with the Ford Motor Company. Besides the 626, the Flat Rock plant assembles the Mazda MX-6 and the Ford Probe. While many components are shared, the use of excellent design and construction techniques allows each model to retain its separate individuality.
The fourth generation 626 received a lot of appearance and comfort input from its Irvine, California design studio, and the final result, with collaboration from Mazda"s homeland center, is a world class mid-size four-door family/sport sedan. The LX model is new for 1994, and features the newer 164 horsepower, 24-valve V-6 engine.
To determine its highway cruising capabilities I drove it down and back I-5 to the Los Angeles area, and I also put the 626LX through its paces on city and suburban streets as well as back roads.
APPEARANCE: The 626 was completely redone as a 1993 model, therefore no significant changes were made to its clean, well-rounded lines for 1994. From its wide headlights and broad low air-intake to its short high rear deck and low-liftover trunk,as well as its large cabin and smooth sides, the 626 displays a subtle, slightly rounded wedge design. Brightwork around all of the glass and black B-pillar trim accent its monochrome body finish. As a new top-of-the-line sport sedan model the LX is equipped with cast alloy wheels, low profile Bridgestone Potenza speed-rated tires, and driving lights.
COMFORT: The interior of the 626 is hospitable. It is fitted with all of the power accessories we've come to expect in top-level models, power windows, side mirrors, locks and the drivers seat. The temperature system with rear seat ducting works excellently in both hot and cold weather. Clear high- fidelity sound from the AM/FM/cassette system fills the cabin from six speakers. The spacious flat trunk offers plenty of storage space, but if more is needed, the lockable rear seat backs can be folded down either 60/40 or completely. Other niceties include a well-lighted instrument panel, lighted ignition switch, center console storage with cupholders, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, remote trunk and fuel door releases and four wide-opening passenger doors.
SAFETY: Features that enhance the safety of the Mazda 626LX for 1994 include driver's and passenger's side airbag, 3-point seat belts on all outboard seats, adjustable height on front shoulder harness and child safety rear door locks. Variable speed intermittent windshield wipers and a rear defogger provide good vision in all weather conditions. Designed front and rear crumple zones and side impact beams assist in reducing injury risk in a collision, while four wheel disc brakes aid in safe, quick stops. Anti-lock brakes are optional on this model.
ROADABILITY: Mazda classifies the 626LX-V6 as a family/sport sedan. As such it delivers a well- balanced ride that is sure to please most owners driving in real-world driving conditions. Its solid chassis provides a stable platform for the well-designed fully independent suspension layout. Engine-speed- sensitive power assisted rack-and-pinion steering allows positive road feel and confident handling on a wide variety of road surfaces including freeways, mall speed bumps and curvy roads .
PERFORMANCE: The 626LX -V6 shares its 2.5 liter powerplant with the sportier MX 6. This quite formidable 24 valve, dual overhead camshaft, multiport fuel injected, computer managed V6 engine develops a smooth and silky 164 horsepower. In keeping with its family/sport description power is transmitted to its front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox that has well-spaced gates and is easy to shift up and down through the gears. On the highway this engine is whisper quiet, and when conditions warrant the gear setting can quickly be changed to meet any driving condition.
CONCLUSIONS: 1994 is a year of refinement for the American-built 626. The new LX-V6 model brings basic luxury along with excellent driveability, comfort and safety to Mazda's well-balanced mid- size four-door sedan.
1994 MAZDA 626 LX - V-6
Base Price $ 18,700 Price As Tested $ 19,145 Engine Type V-6, dohc 24 valve, mpfi Engine Size 2.5 liter/152 cid Horsepower 164 @ 5600 Torque (ft/lbs) 160 @ 4800 Wheelbase/Length 103"/184" Transmission five speed manual w/od Curb Weight 2820 Pounds per Horsepower 17 Fuel Capacity 15 Fuel Requirement Unleaded regular (87 oct) Tires Bridgestone Potenza P205/55R15 87V Brakes anti-lock optional disc/disc Drive Train front engine/front drive PERFORMANCE EPA Economy - miles per gallon, city/highway/observed 21/26/24.3 0 to 60 mp 8.3 sec 1/4 mi (E.T.) 16.4 sec Coefficient of Drag (Cd) .32