The Mazda 626 had a production run of 23 years, beginning in 1979 and ending in 2002. During that time, it was one of Mazda's premiere family cars until it was finally succeeded by the Mazda6. From 1977 to 1987, the 626 was sold as a compact car. In 1988, it was revised and sold as a mid-size automobile until 2002. Although it was primarily assembled in Japan, the 626 was a popular car in North America and Europe.
In the beginning, the 626 was assembled in Hiroshima; as the car continued to increase sales, production moved to other parts of the world, such as Bogota, Colombia, and Flat Rock, Michigan. The car was built on the front-engine, front-wheel drive layout and featured a modest 1.8-liter engine at its base level. The four-door sedan offered plenty of room for five people, but the reduction in sales and poor reviews in 1999 brought a halt to its long production three years later.
Each generation Mazda 626 was labeled as a Mark Series with the first one beginning as the Mark 1 in 1979. It featured two body styles, either a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan. It was a standard car for its time, having a similar rectangular body that most family cars of the time used. The Mark 2 was introduced in 1983 as a sportier version of the previous model and offered a new two-door coupe to the lineup.
The Mark 3 and Mark 4 models improved upon the overall design of the vehicle, while the final Mark 5 ended the series as a longer family car with rounded corners and fewer new options. Still the car included larger wheels and four-wheel disc brakes. Rear heat ducts and an upgraded 2.5-liter engine rounded out the newest exterior features of the Mark 5, but soft handling and lack of innovative interior features cost the 626 sales. The interior featured new front-side airbags and redesigned seats that offered more legroom.
As with most cars in the Mazda lineup, the 626 received praise early on and a few awards were offered along the way. In 1995, the Mazda 626 ES trim level sedan won the Best Overall Value of the Year Award from IntelliChoice. Consumer Guide named the 626 a Best Buy in 1998 and J. D. Power and Associates ranked it above industry standards. In 2002, The Car Book named the Mazda 626 a Best Fuel Economy Miser
... View more