I bought this car new in 06. I traded my 02 Mazda Protege ES in on it when the Mazda had 115000 miles (trouble free). I got the automatic because I was living in a high traffic volume area where its less fun to drive a manual. I got the base model with power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise, etc. Its a great looking car with lots of interior space and a mostly well thought out interior. Ride is smooth, nice driving position, clear gauges, etc. I'm at 90k now & I need to trade it on a minivan because I can't fit a rear facing child seat behind me & still have enough space to drive (twins!). The throttle body went at 70K (covered by extended warranty) and the CD died at 80k.
Styling, driving position, and lots of cargo space. I can fit my dresser in the back with the rear seats folded. The car has a smooth ride, and has been pretty reliable. Overall a good buy and very functional, if not exceptional, car.
Gas mileage was OK, but not fantastic. Average about 30 on the highway (sometimes a little better) and low 20's in town. I expected better from a 1.8 liter 4 cyl. Lack of safety features on the base model (ABS, side airbags). Not nearly as fun to drive as styling suggests, and the hubcaps go MIA.