Actually the Millenia is smaller than the 626 inside. More power available with the Miller cycle (210 hp); but it's automatic only. If you're willing to deal with the automatic, it's got a very nice interior, and they can be had at a bargain. I wouldn't describe the drive as "fun" though; it's set up as an entry level luxury car.
Miller Cycle supercharged engine in Millenia S sucks. When it's too hot outside, the supercharger doesn't work as well and car looses some performance. Like when it's real time, people said it runs in low 8's, but when its regular moderate temperature, then it runs like mazda6 auto or maybe a bit slower. And handling in millenia is nowhere compared to the 6. But then again, 6 is nowhere as luxurious as the millenia. They should make millenia with V8 engine and car should be big like Nissan Altima, but of course, better looking.
My parents drive a Millenia. 1995 model, everything but the miller cycle V6.
HORRIBLY BORING CAR. I can't stand driving that thing. My mother likes it because of the luxury amenities (heated seats, leather, automatic climate, etc). I enjoy driving my old 1990 626 more than her car.
The 170hp 2.5LV6 is NOT powerful enough. I have driven a Millenia S twice, and it is a must have, and makes the car quite a bit better, but still pretty boring in my book.
The car has a nice ride, and solid handling, but the steering is overboosted, and I feel the seating position is rather low and uncomfortable. REar seat is actually very nice IMHO.
The 4 speed auto was updated for 1997 or 1998 I believe. I'm not sure if it is much better, but on my mother's car, it isn't very smooth, particularly the 1-2 shift (apparently typical of Mazda automatics). It also doesn't kick down worth beans. With the rather weak base engine, this really kills performance, and it bugs me a lot. You NEED it to downshift, but it won't. The 2.5L makes good upper end power, but is lacking in the low end, made worse by a rather heavy car.
Depreciation is among the worst. My parents got theirs in 1997 for approx $15,000 if i can remember correctly. A good deal for the car at the time, considering they were in the upper 20's to low 30's brand new. However, even used, the depreciation is poor. I recently looked up the value on Kelly Blue Book. I believe it is now worth 7-8K, and that is with normal mileage. Ouch.
They're worth a look, but I really think there are better cars for the same price. You'll get more performance, equal room and luxury, more powerful engines, and no horrid depreciation. Many people really like the Millenia, and you may be one, but just be sure to get the S if you decide to get one. I can't stress that enough.