Bought this car 5 months ago for $800.00 and that was the best money ever spent. Car had 163,000 miles on it and I have put 10,000 more miles on it since then and probably saved over $1,000 in gas money so far, if not more. Had a gas guzzling Dodge Ram that got 14 mpg and this Protege gets 37 mpg. With gas price the way they are, this car will be around for ever if I can help it. Don't like auto seat belt but will cope with that.
The PLASTIC radiator blew up three summers ago (2001); I have had nothing but problems since then--I've since replaced the radiator, head gasket (twice, I think) timing belt (expected...once... I've had to replace it twice in less than two years. No one can figure out why it keeps shredding/coming off.), water pump, thermostat, A/C switch and housing, compressor, etc. I CAN'T WAIT 'til I can afford to get another NEW car. I plan to never buy Mazda again, nor an older used car, even though this one was only 6.5 years old when I bought it, with 57K miles. It's now at only 107K miles.
I bought my Protege DX over 2 years ago and have put nearly 40,000 miles on it. During that time the car has been extremely reliable. It has never failed to start and I've averaged between 31 and 36 mpg, to boot. Its has 148000 miles on it now and shows no signs of nearing the end of it's useful life.I'm very satisfied with it.
best car i've owned in terms of reliability/value. haven't put a dime into it outside of a catalytic converter and your run of the mill maintenance (battery and brakes). 12 years and still going... a/c is getting a little weak---needs recharging. but heck, this is like an old friend, who is getting old. driven hard and starting to get the old creaks and rattles.