I bought this superb car in 1998. It was 4 years old with just around 48,000 miles. This is the second Protege LX I have owned, the first one being a '93 with a 5 speed, this car is an 4sp. automatic. This car is perfect in reliability and very mechanically sound. Only normal repairs and scheduled services have been done,so far nothing major. The good news is that this car has 215,500 miles on it. It uses no oil, leaks no fluids of any kind. The transmission has been flawless all those miles. If your looking for a reliable vehicle and your lucky to find one in decent shape. BUY IT! 1994 MAZDA PROTEGE LX 1.8 DOHC
I bought this car from someone who was gonna junk it for $300. It needed a speedo cable, front/rear rotors, new CV axles, and new front struts. I got it on the road for a total of $1200 including buying the car. I also put a new set of tires on. That was 2 years and 20k miles ago, and it's still going! All my friends make fun of it, it looks pretty beat down. But it starts every time, and even runs good in snow.
Fuel economy, maneuverability, power (DOHC), surprising room inside, cheap/easy to work on.
I bought this car used and have had it for over 3 years; overall it's been a good commuter car. I would recommend, however, a manual transmission. I had to rebuild/replace my automatic twice within the first two years (over $2000 in repair) and it is needing work a third time. I was told by both mechanics that these cars tend to be given very poor automatic transmissions and that the Mazdas with manuals do much better. Expected at its age, I have had other minor repairs needed, but this was the only major issue.
Engine is great -- absolutely no trouble. Decent gas mileage too, anywhere between 27 and 30 mpg.
I think it's a great little car. Very peppy. I live in Rochester NY and it's murder on most cars in the winter but my Protege never seems to get any rust on it. I've had a few things go wrong -- belt broke, thermostat, AC. Those are all normal things that need fixing after 100,000 miles. I enjoy working on the car myself. No matter what I do to it, it just keeps going. I've know some other people who own them and they say that the engine will go to 200k, no problem. I love the car and wouldn't trade it for anything.
Smooth manual transmission, Fast, great handling
Stock speakers and stereo are week. Be warned, alternator is not strong enough to handle an aftermarket stereo w/o a capacitor. Also, the air flow meter in the engine inhibits most aftermarket work to it.