I have had my Protege for almost two years now and it was been a joy to drive to work. It handles well for an economy car and has a surprising amount of room for my wife, two kids and my black lab. The 5-speed is smooth and precise. Steering has nice feel.
Fun to drive. Decent economy. Not as good as a Toyota or Honda. Almost a familyman's Miata (with head room).
Road noise on concrete roads or bumpy roads. Relocate, enlarge the cup holders. Hard to reach the oil filter.
Test drove other vehicles before i purchased the Protege. Civic, Neon, Corolla, Focus. Was hooked when i drove the Protege. Hugged the road and had plenty of pep. Great on long trips, will drive all day and all night
6-disc CD changer, moonroof, very dependable.
Hard to get to oil filter to change oil, gas mileage of 25-29 is what the sticker says, but not great compared to other econocars.
The '03 Protege DX is beautifully designed inside and out. There is plenty of space inside for CD's and other things you need within arms reach. Both doors have ample side pockets for ice scrapers, etc. Driving it is pure joy. I have a manual, and there is plenty of get up and go on the highway as well in town. The ride is smooth and quiet. It is very spacious inside.There is plenty of trunk space. It has much more room than a Sentra and other cars that fall into this sedan category. And, it is less expensive than other sedans in this category. I have had it since new, and have not had one problem.The gas mileage is very good.
Favorite features include styling, a very spacious interior and plenty of trunk space. The engine has plenty of power. It has a smooth, quiet ride. I believe it will serve me well into the 100's of thousands of miles.
I bought this vehicle used (34K miles). Within one week of purchase, I made a 2000 mile trip with no problems. The only maintenance performed have been oil-filter changes and a front end alignment. The room inside the car is better than my previous vehicle, a 2000 Mercury Sable.
My wife drives the Mazda and I drive the Subaru. She loves it. Only issue so far - passenger window fell off the track. This vehicle comes with a 50,000 mile warranty. Dealer fixed it, no hassle. I raced my wife one time off the line with our 2000 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon (165hp). She won! but not by much =). We've been very pleased with this car. Never bought Mazda before, happy we did. Would definitely buy Mazda again.
Sporty handling, more responsive brakes versus our Subaru. Despite being 6'4", I don't feel too crammed in it. Great Warranty (50,000 miles). Haven't had to worry about it. Dent resistant doors like on a Saturn.
Gas mileage could be better. Our all wheel drive Subaru gets the same mileage - between 25 and 30mpg. Highway wind noise. Exterior paint is peeling in one section (just the glossy stuff, not the actual silver paint).