A satisfying econobox: 90K miles of fun
By astral on
2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
Great interior for money. Easy to read gauges, sporty 3-spoke steering wheel. Easy to use HVAC controls. Radio is very easy to use, big volume knob, 6-CD in dash changer rocks. Road visibility excellent. The car Is very nimble and quick handing. Road feel is direct, the suspension is sporty, and while you can sense every bump, it doesn't rattle the bones. Excellent linear brakes, with a quick bite and an easy pedal. Confidence-inspiring. Engine is plenty quick, especially around town. A little slow at highway speed. Automatic tranny switches very easily and naturally: great feel. No problems with this car over 90K miles, only regular maintenance. Backseat roomy for class, good size trunk.
Awesome handling, great brakes, nice automatic transmission feel, and decent low-end grunt inspire confidence and make car fun to drive. Plenty of room, good looks (laser blue!). Reliable, maintenance not expensive. 6-CD in dash changer is nice! Good winter performer with snow tires. Easy aftermarket stereo upgrade.
Substandard mileage: 28 mpg on the highway auto, 30 manual vs. 35 mpg of a Corolla. A lot of wind noise on highway. A/C not strong; on hot days have to do full blast with recirc. Develops small interior rattles after 40K. Stock battery is weak, cranks slowly in winter. OEM tires stink in snow, OK in wet.