I've had this car since last December and it gives me trouble every day. I've already had to replace my fuel injector, spark plugs, and other things. right now it's lagging and takes forever to build up speed. I wish i never got this car.
I bought my Protege in preparation for going back to college for $3,500 with 117k on it. It's a 5 speed with a 1.5 liter. I use it for everything short of what I would need a truck for. It has plenty of room for 4-5 people and great trunk space. More than two years later, it has 156k and still going strong. Aside from basic maintenance, it has only needed a new timing belt (water pump done at same time to save $$), thermostat and tires, all wear and tear items. Although not absolutely necessary, I also replaced the struts (another wear and tear item) since I plan to drive this one until it dies, which will probably be a long time.
Fuel economy and a superb freeway cruiser! I consistently get 35-36 overall mpg, although winter takes off about 2mpg. At a steady 65-70 mph, this car WILL get 40+mpg. I highly recommend this car to anybody looking for a true value car, but do opt for the 1.5 liter with the 5 speed.
Wish it had a little more zip and better fuel economy for in-town driving, but the car runs so well this is mostly a non-issue. Car also detonates on 87 octane during warmer months (heard this is an ECU issue).
Picked up an immaculate little 1995 Protege LX with 131,000 on the odometer. Did the best tune up I could without tearing it apart. Plugs, wires, oil, oil filter, PCV Valve, Fuel Filter and Sea Foamed the crap out of the engine. The thing runs like a brand new car and doesnt leak or burn a drop of oil. For an economical get around car I would put it in the same catagory as a civic or corolla and they are available at a substantially lower price.
After a first month of major shaking off of dust and investing over $700 in new parts, the little car perked right up, except for occasional lapses of electrical connections, like windshield wipers. It seems to drive better and better with time, besting the big boys that keep broadsiding it. Truly, the "little engine that could." Already had 126,186 when I purchased it several months ago, and I have the feeling it's just getting started. In fact, I watched six mechanics' eyes light up once they got behind the wheel themselves. I love my little car; it makes me love driving, even in crazy traffic. Its small size is a plus for maneuvering, too. Forget "first car"--this is a keeper.
Starts right up every time; no need to warm up; gets more powerful the more it is used; very easy to manovour; very fuel efficient, easy to park.
Built a bit too low to the ground for road visibility; more trunk room; maybe a version that is a two-seater; bring back MY MADZA PROTEGE!