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Mazda Millenia Millennium Edition (2000)

SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyer's Guide

by Carey Russ

Mazda Full Line Video footage (2:53)

When opportunity knocks, answer. Mazda has been selling the Millenia luxury sedan since its introduction as a 1995 model in early 1994, and the new millennium is at hand. So a Millenia Millennium Edition was an irresistible addition to Mazda's model-year 2000 lineup.

The Millennium Edition is, basically, a premium version of the existing Millenia S model. It is offered in two exclusive colors - Highlight Silver and Millennium Red - and has 17-inch chrome alloy wheels and special badging outside and unique interior trim. And, yes, it also serves to distinguish Mazda's one-"n" spelling of Millenia from the thousand year unit of time's two.

Automotive product life cycles are short, and the "entry-luxury" class - cars priced between approximately $30,000 and $40,000 - is one of the most fiercely- competitive niches in the industry. The Millenia has been changed little in the half-decade since its debut, while several key competitors have undergone major transformations. Can the Millenia still compete?

The answer to that question is "yes." Thanks to a design that was ahead of the competition at its debut, the Millenia is still very competitive in its class. And it is different, especially in "S" and "Millennium Edition" form. Not only are they unique in styling, the two top Millenia models are unique in their use of technology, with the only automotive application of a Miller Cycle engine. It provides smooth and economical power that is perfect for the Millenia's luxury demeanor. During my recent week with a new Millenia Millennium Edition, I found it to be an interesting, spirited, and comfortable luxury car with a high value factor.

APPEARANCE: The Millenia defines contemporary Mazda sedan styling. Its lean and sleekly-rounded shape is ageing well. Fittingly for a luxury car, the Millenia is mostly understated in its looks, with chrome trim only around the side windows and for the top bar of the grille. The Millennium Edition's chromed wheels are a bit bright, but don't distract from the rest of the car. The long passenger cabin has a large glass area that not only looks graceful, but ensures excellent visibility. The rear deck is higher than the front for better aerodynamics and increased luggage space. It ends with a small, Miata-like "ducktail" lip instead of the more common add-on spoiler. All styling elements are well-integrated and the overall look is one of understated power and feline grace.

COMFORT: The Millenia Millennium Edition has unique charcoal-colored synthetic suede seating areas and door trim and woodgrain trim on the doors and instrument panel. No one will mistake the synthetic suede for the real thing, but it is far superior to real suede in maintenance and helps hold occupants comfortably in place. The overall effect is elegantly handsome. The Millenia achieves its luxury design and comfort by attention to detail, not over- the-top opulence. Storage compartments in the doors, underneath the armrests, and an extra visor to cover the area above the rear-view mirror are typical small but telling examples of that attention to detail. The 8-way power- adjustable front seats, and Bose? AM/FM/cassette audio system are all part of the Millenia S package; the Millenium Edition adds a 6-disc in-dash CD changer as well. Automatic climate control keeps the temperature just right. The Millenia has a roomy rear seat with a ski-passthrough and a sizeable trunk.

SAFETY: The 2000 Mazda Millenia has dual depowered air bags, front and rear crumple zones, side-impact protection door beams, and four-wheel antilock disc brakes.

ROADABILITY: On the road, the Millenia S or Millennium Edition is smooth, quiet, and very refined. Its fully-independent strut-type suspension is calibrated for a luxuriously comfortable ride. It delivers comfort, and good handling at a fast cruising pace. The Millenia is no sports sedan, although only slight suspension modifications could change that characteristic. Front-wheel drive torque reaction is unnoticeable. Excellent antilock disc brakes ensure fast stopping.

PERFORMANCE: The Millenia S and Millennium Edition use a 2.3-liter "Miller Cycle" V6 engine. The Miller Cycle is a modification of the common Otto four-stroke cycle. In the Millenia application, delayed intake valve closing is used to decrease the effective compression ratio for less chance of knocking and pinging and, a Lysholm supercharger increases the effective expansion ratio, increasing power. The result is 210 horsepower and 210 lb- ft or torque, equivalent to a 3.0 to 3.3-liter engine. What this means to the Millenia driver is great power, especially in the mid-rpm range, and improved fuel economy. Almost six years after its introduction it's still one of the best and most powerful engines in its class. The 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission is smooth and efficient.

CONCLUSIONS: Mazda's Millenia Millennium Edition is more than just a Y2K pun.

2000 Mazda Millenia Millennium Edition

Base Price               $ 30,995
Price As Tested          $ 31,745
Engine Type              dual overhead cam, 
                           24-valve supercharged 
                           Miller-cycle V6
Engine Size              2.3 liters / 138 cu. in.
Horsepower               210 @ 5300 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)           210 @ 3500 rpm
Transmission             4-speed electronically-
                           controlled automatic
Wheelbase / Length       108.3 in. / 189.8 in.
Curb Weight              3355 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower    16.0
Fuel Capacity            18.0 gal.
Fuel Requirement         unleaded premium
Tires                    215/50 VR17 Dunlop SP Sport
Brakes, front/rear       vented disc / solid disc,
                           antilock standard
Suspension, front/rear   independent multi-link strut 
                           with coil springs /
                           independent multi-link strut 
                           with coil springs
Drivetrain               front engine, front-wheel drive


EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed   20 / 28 / 23
0 to 60 mph                 8.0  sec
1/4 mile (E.T.)             16.5 sec

4-Seasons package - includes:
  heated front seats, heated outside  mirrors,
  heavy-duty windshield wiper motor, 
  large-capacity windshield washer tank &
  fluid-level indicator light, heavy-duty battery   $ 300
Inland Freight                                      $ 450