The 2003 Mazda Protege ES has been one of the very best cars I've ever driven or owned. It is rock solid, fun to drive, sporty (power and looks), and gets great gas mileage. I've heard that the Mazda 3 is even better, and without a doubt that will be the next car I purchase. I've driven the 2003 Honda Civic, 2003 Toyota Corolla, 2003 Hyundai Elantra, and a couple of domestics. I'd rank them as follows: 1. Mazda Protege 2. Toyota Corolla 3. Honda Civic 4. any domestic compact 5. Hyundai Elantra If there is a weakness of the sporty Protege ES, it would be that the Honda and Toyota are more comfortable to drive on long trips. We prefer to take our mivivan on such trips.
1. Dependability 2. Rock solid engineering 3. Sporty (ES package) - fun to drive 4. Great gas milage 5. Good power
NONE - I chose the sporty ES package over the LX package specifically for handling. As such, my Protege was not intended for taking long trips (> 150- 200 miles) in regard to "road bump" comfort. If longer distance driving is desired, go with the LX or DX models.