In the past before purchasing this Protege, I had owned Honda LX's and Civics. All had great engines, but all would succumb to extreme body rust. Living in the Northeast this is expected. Since buying my 2002 Protege, I have no problem with rust or engine problems. Mazda also stands behind their product. Dealerships are hard to obtain. The problem encountered is tires. Original tires wear out quick. Snow tires are expensive, and all-seasons are no better. I bought Brigestone winters and run Dunlap summers. By far the best car I have owned!
Performance, pick-up, handling, front wheel drive is awesome. Good body weight distribution for front wheel drive. Gas economy.