In actual fact, she was assembled in September of 1999, or so says the label, but today Sandy, my 2000 Mazda 626 LX, after sitting unsold for over a year, on the lots of two different dealers in two different states, fercryingoutloud completes one year of faithful service to yours truly.

Sandy is now showing 8668 miles, and about half of that total came during a three-week blitz of the eastern US. This should tell you that she's not being treated with kid gloves: either she buzzes through town on a handful of short trips, or she's on the road for hundreds of miles at a time.

But in that time, she has proven to be frugal as well as faithful. Scheduled maintenance (three oil changes, one tire rotation) has cost a mere $70; nonscheduled maintenance (replacing a wiper blade bent by a vandal, patching a windshield stone chip) was $55. There was one recall, which took all of thirty seconds. Fuel mileage has been almost exactly what the government predicts: 22 mpg in town, 28 on the highway. (The World Tour figure was 29.2 mpg.) This is on the low side for a midsized sedan, mainly because the little 2.0-liter engine has to work hard to provide any major motivation. Fortunately, it seems to enjoy the work. And if you're not going to Zoom Zoom, you shouldn't be in a Mazda in the first place.

Compared with her predecessor (a '93 named Molly), Sandy is definitely identifiable as a sibling, but these sisters aren't at all twins, despite having the same engine. Molly was more of a tease; Sandy doesn't fool around much. Molly would shake, rattle and roll if you brought her to a stop; Sandy remains placid. Molly had a lot less superfluous brightwork; on the other hand, her cheese-mold grey interior (interrupted mostly by coffee stains) bordered on funereal. Sandy comes off as far sunnier (yet no hotter in the summer sun). Practitioners of yoga will find entering either of these cars far easier than I do; while there is no shortage of headroom, getting my head through the door assumes a degree of bendyness I simply don't have. Still, even if the perfect car did exist, they probably wouldn't have sold it to me for seventeen grand, and if they did, they wouldn't have let me keep the rebate.

We'll be back with an update in about a year, assuming I haven't gone berserk and bought the new 626 replacement that's due next summer.

The Vent

18 October 2001

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 Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill