2001 Mazda Protege LX 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
My dad bought a gold '01 Protege brand new when I was a kid. It was never driven much, mainly used as a backup car. When I got my licence it was my ride to high school and in general as I hated driving my mother's van. I drove it for a year before my dad traded it for a 2012 Honda CR-V. It did its job fine, got me to school and back without fuss, was fun to drive with the 5-speed and great on gas. The only problem I had was the alternator crapping out in the middle of the freeway and I had to have it towed. Apart from that it was pretty reliable. I'd recommend it, just watch out for rust problems and keep it to a meticulous maintenance schedule. Also not the best car to learn stick on.
On a good day the ride was actually pretty good despite the stick shift. It was pretty fast with the 2.0 and handled great. It was a good commuter car for a high school student. It was also quite roomy, I'm 6'4 and fit just fine and it had room for 3 friends in the back and wasn't too bad on an hour long road trip. No major problems except the alternator, nothing about the rods, struts or anything like a lot of reviews I've read. It's a fine first car as long as you take care of it
Not the best car to learn stick on. The clutch is touchy and the car itself didn't take too kindly to me at first. I learned in driver's ed and we got along better. Watch the original parts as the alternator that died hadn't been changed. Also watch out for rust. Proteges have been notorious for rust problems and ours was no exception, that's partly why we got rid of it. The ride was pretty bumpy at times, when my dad got the CR-V all my friends said they didn't miss the Mazda and TBH, I didn't either. I guess I just have higher standards with cars.