I bought my 01 protege 3 years ago for $500.00 with 150k. He thought it was on its last leg lol it now has 235k and still gets a persistent 34 to 37 mpg and just runs like a sewing machine. The only maintenance I've had was a starter battery brakes tires and alternator
Of all the purchasing decisions I have made in my life, choosing the 2001 Protege 5-speed DX has probably been my single best decision. I bought it used with 64k miles; it looks and runs the same after 96k miles. Replaced brakes, shocks and battery when I bought it, timing belt and other belts just now. Nothing else. My two longevity tips: use synthetic oil and hand-wax it. The only issues: The famous digital clock problem expanded to the entire radio, which now fails to operate. More road noise than I'd prefer on the highway. First signs of rust showing near the wheel wells, probably from winter salt.
Needs more head and leg room. Only one problem, the ground wire on the wiper motor broke and I fixed it myself. One new set of front brakes put on at 80000. Interstate MPG up to 39 at times. Great little car unless you're a great big or tall person.
I just paid off my Protege and I am sooo ready for a different car. I bought it for the four door and fuel economy aspect. Those two things aren't disappointing...pretty much everything else was...teh electronics were always if-y and the drivers seat kills your back...theseat belts in the back have all but ceased to function. It's just NOT THAT GREAT of a car.
The steering wheel is cute, and there is plenty of trunk space.
The electronic system is not good (i.e. clock/cd display and so on)