Before buying this car, I had previously owned a Chevy Malibu & Chevy Cavalier (both stunk!). I've had the car for 4 years now and have 30,000 miles and not one major thing had gone wrong with it. Power is better than a Honda, with more style and character for the price. Easy to keep clean with no major defects and comfort is the best that I can find. I wanted value for my money and even my husband agrees that this car is the best value out there. My only caution would be to watch out for used ones that belonged to rowdy teenagers who didn't upkeep the car and liked to rev the engine up as much as possible. I love this car!
Style, power are better than any Honda. You get noticed driving this car around, since it sticks out from all the other boxy compact cars with no power.
Only complaint is that the factory tires, which are top of the line Potenzas, are getting worn at 30,000 miles. To replace them, it will cost $500. Sticker shock! Otherwise, I have no complaints.
I purchased this car for my wife and wanted good handling and 4 wheel disc brakes. Had wanted a Civic but the disc brakes only came on the Si. This has been a great car - fun to drive and no problems at all. Engine not as sweet as a Honda but it has a lot of pickup around town and on the highway as well. Not as smooth in the higher RPM range as a Honda but that is not really an issue. Highway mileage is 31-32 so it gives up a bit to a Civic but much more of a sporty ride. I prefer driving the ES to my Accord V-6. I have an auto transmission and it still has a lot of Zoom Zoom. Did I mention great handling with a good highway ride? You cannot go wrong with this car. I don't like the 3.
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.
I love my Protege. It might not be the fastest car, or strongest car out there, but you can still leave a lil Civic in the dust. I'm into the tuner world and Im trying to do some modifications to it but its hard to find parts for it and when I do find some aftermarket parts, they are really expensive. All in all it is a great, reliable, and fun car to have.
I love the interior of my Protege, it's not just plain. It has nice bucket seats with kind of a suede feel to them and the dash trim is nicely painted to contrast with the interior.
Stronger, more powerful engine might be good but it's still fun to drive.
This car is hands down the best economy car you can (could) buy. Yes, it could use more power, but it's still peppy. The handling is better than cars costing a lot more, and the brakes are the best I have ever used, period. The Protege is truly a budget BMW; so much more fun than a Sentra, Civic, or Corolla. It looks good, too; after 3 years, I still find myself turning around to look at it as I walk away. It's a little loud on the highway, but the high-performance tires have a lot to do with that. I usually get 25mpg around town and a bit over 30 on the highway. My last Protege (a 1990 model) was running strong at 225,000 miles, and I don't expect this one to be any different.
The smile it puts on my face. The tight handling; the sharp styling; the good stereo. Did I mention the brakes are fantastic?
This car could easily handle another 30 horsepower. Manual shifter throws could be a tad shorter; a taller 5th gear would help quiet the car on the highway.