best in class
By mazda autocrosser on
2002 Mazda Protege ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
This car is hands down the best economy car you can (could) buy. Yes, it could use more power, but it's still peppy. The handling is better than cars costing a lot more, and the brakes are the best I have ever used, period. The Protege is truly a budget BMW; so much more fun than a Sentra, Civic, or Corolla. It looks good, too; after 3 years, I still find myself turning around to look at it as I walk away. It's a little loud on the highway, but the high-performance tires have a lot to do with that. I usually get 25mpg around town and a bit over 30 on the highway. My last Protege (a 1990 model) was running strong at 225,000 miles, and I don't expect this one to be any different.
The smile it puts on my face. The tight handling; the sharp styling; the good stereo. Did I mention the brakes are fantastic?
This car could easily handle another 30 horsepower. Manual shifter throws could be a tad shorter; a taller 5th gear would help quiet the car on the highway.