Background: My parents bought the car in 1999 and I got ownership by mid- 2005. The car is still doing well but starting to show its age. Despite being intended as an economical vehicle with great mileage, it looks beautiful in green and has above average handling for its class, making driving a more enjoyable experience. The fun is enhanced by its features such as cruise control. Driving on hilly roads can be a bit of issue due to small engine but it was a needed sacrifice for better mileage. Reliability is rather average as the car needed some costly repairs during these eleven years.
Fuel economy for 1999: I hit around 30- 35 mpg on highways. An enjoyable driving experience. Outstanding external design despite mazda3s being superior in that department.
Road noise is a common Mazda complaint and this car is an example of it: sound insulation is inadequate, but not overly so. Door rubbers are lousy and acceleration can be a problem with the A/C on, especially when going uphill. Seat design is a bit rough for thin people during long trips.
My Mazda was a college gift from my parents bought in great condition. I learned stick in this car and it was very smooth. The gas mileage was also great, and being a college commuter who drives 60miles a day to and from school, the gas was quite cheap. Got in one accident with a deer that completely demolished the car costing around three grand to fix (fix enough to pass inspection that is). The a/c has broken, check engine light is very flighty, had many pipe clogs, brakes failed... all within six months of purchase.
Good handling in snow, gas mileage, good handling when weaving through traffic, great amount of room up front and in the back seat
Car fell apart could have been going before purchased (but not likely), quite flimsy exterior, not particularly fast
I have always been a truck person, but bought this car to limit my annual mileage on my truck. This has been a great car that I bought cheaply with 87K on it. I changed the timing belt, and change the oil every 6K with synthetic. I now have 143K on it, and it runs better than when I bought it. I use it like a truck, and even have hauled my jetski with it. It just has a little trouble pulling it out of the lake but manages. It gets between 30 and 34 MPG with a mix of freeway and town driving. It's not the fastest for sure, but it is sufficient, except on big hills.
The gas mileage and trunk space are my favorite features.
Yes, it is a bit noisy on the freeway, but what do you expect for such a cheap car? Ok, maybe try to reduce that a little bit.
I bought a new protege in 99, the car has always been really trustworthy! The car really hasn't had any real problems besides normal maint (alternator, oil changes, brakes etc.) I have always kept up maint on this car and has allowed this car to still run just like it did when I drove it off the lot even after 311,000 miles! I have never had to do any Major engine or trans work on this car and still trust it enough to make 3 400 mile trips a week! On the highway it gets about 35-40 mpg and citywise mid20s to lower 30s! One complaint is that the cupholders are to small and are placed too close to the dash and shifter. Also long trips the seats can get uncomfortable! But great car and value!
Sunroof, sound system, fun to drive, great gas mileage, very dependable, have gotten my 20,000 I paid back considering I haven't had many problems in the 310,000 miles that ive drove it! I love this car, may not be a Mercedes but cant find many 20 grand cars that match this cars reliability and drive!
Would give more space in console for the cupholders ( too close to dash and shifter) and also make seats more comfortable on long trips cause can be stiff after long road trips! But really great car Mazda! For being owned by Ford corp they have stepped up the game with the protege! Great job!