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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Could the days of Mazdas front-drive near-luxury sedan be numbered? Because sales dipped to 16,558 units during 2000, some analysts believe the Millenia may fade out of the Mazda picture. Ironically, not many more Miatas are sold each year, yet that model is in no danger of extinction.
The Millenia earned new front and rear styling for 2001. A 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 engine goes into the base model, while the S sedan carries a supercharged, 210-hp, 2.3-liter V-6. Little has changed for the 2002 model year.
Exterior The Millenia measures 191.6 inches long overall, which is about 4 inches longer than the Mazda 626 sedan. Its 108.3-inch wheelbase is 3 inches longer than that of the 626, and the sedan is 69.7 inches wide and 54.9 inches high. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on the base sedan, and the Millenia S rides on 17-inch rubber.
Interior Like most midsize models, the Millenia promises five-passenger capacity. Because the rear seat isnt really wide enough to hold three adults, four occupants will be more comfortable.
Leather upholstery is one item on a long list of standard amenities. The electronic gauge cluster can be as entertaining as it is useful. When the driver turns on the ignition, luminescent red needles light up first, followed by white gauge graphics.
Under the Hood The base Millenia uses the same 170-hp, 2.5-liter V-6 engine as the 626 sedan. Because the Millenia is heavier, you cant expect sizzling performance. The S model is fitted with a supercharged, 2.3-liter V-6 known as a Miller-cycle engine. Despite its smaller displacement, this engine whips up 210 hp and delivers markedly more impressive acceleration. Both engines mate with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Traction control is an option on the base model and a standard feature on the S model.
Driving Impressions In addition to its smooth appearance, the Millenia delivers a comfortable and satisfying experience on the road. It steers with a light touch and produces a gentle ride, though it is accompanied by a bit of surplus motion on some surfaces. The well-behaved suspension recovers rapidly from each imperfection it encounters.
Acceleration in the S model is energetic with the Miller-cycle engine. Except for an invigorating sound from the blower, the engine is quiet. Mazdas automatic transmission shifts capably, without significant delays. Occupants also enjoy plenty of space within the attractive, distinctive interior not to mention the well-cushioned, properly supportive seats.