I just bought one. It was the best investment I have ever made. I paid $400 for it on Craigslist because it needed repairs. The parts were cheap. I ended up spending just $300 to replace the rear struts and springs, all four brake pads and rotors, headlights, spark plugs, air filter and replaced all of the fluids. Now it runs like new which is surprising since the engine and transmission have never been replaced or rebuilt. Some of the reviews I have read stated that the acceleration is sluggish but that has not been the case with the 1.8 liter engine paired with a 5 speed. The best part is that I was able to get close to 350 miles on a single tank of gas and it cost about $30 to completely refill the tank. The only problem I have had other than the usual protege suspension and rust issues is that it is a little cramped when getting in and out due to the steering wheel being a little low. I would recommend this car 100% to anyone looking for a cheap reliable car.
I bought my Protege (automatic, not manual) new in 1996, and although one of the buttons on the factory stereo stopped working within one year, I haven't had any major trouble out of this car for most of its life (first actual breakdown occurred in 2010, and wasn't a major system). I am only just now looking to replace it! The ride is responsive and the suspension is nice and firm, and though the 80hp engine is pretty sluggish, that never really bothered me. A simple, practical, reliable vehicle! The one caution I would have is that it has burned through several "lifetime" mufflers, always in the same spot--probably a design flaw. Otherwise, can't complain!
Front seat has lots of space for its size/class. The trunk is huge! It handles nicely on turns, not a lot of lean/sway. Good steering/handling if I have to make a fast dodge.
The seatbelts lock up way too easily and tend to go "boa constrictor" on larger people. The back-seat belts are also hard for my kids to latch because the receptor ends tend to slip under their booster seats. Hopefully the seat belts improved in later models! The problems I have had to fix have been muffler replacement (every 4-5 years, even on "lifetime" mufflers); mysteriously fouled spark plug wires (1x); and the a/c compressor (which is belted with the drivetrain so the car won't run if it's not fixed).
First I would like to say, this is just my experience with this car. Most of the comments hear are pretty good and I think I just got "the bad one". My mother purchased this car for me as a graduation present in 2004. We bought it @ an auction and paid about $2000 with a little over 100k miles. The engine was replace in 2006 and it seemed to be fine. But as time went on I start experiencing unresolved electrical problems, computer problems, and altenator problems. I later found out that the "new engine" was damaged and the odometer was set back. Current its @ 160k (really about 190k), stills runs but on its last leg. We've spent thousands of $$ in repairs. Good car, just do research b4 u buy
Has excellent gas milage, roomy back seats for a compact car, A/C works great.
What i like about this car is the sunroof and all the power options.On really bad freeways the car is really bumpy i think it might be the struts or a motor mount i don't know but it really bad over 45 MPH. But for around 1,500-2,000 dollars these are a reliable small little car with Fair MPG and easy to work on.
Sunroof, power options, Cloth Seats.
Suspension (struts,Shocks Etc..)Less rust around wheel wells.
Overall this car is fantastic. I got it for my 18th birthday and I'm in love with it. The engine is a little underpowered but the manual helps hide it. I just learned how to drive stick shift with this car because it is so easy. The DX trim lacks basic comforts like power anything or cruise control but the car is very easy to work on. The 1.5 liter engine makes incredible gas mileage, I went 80 miles on a little less than a 1/4 tank. Its great for a starter car or student can go forever with proper maintenance.