There is nothing pretentious about the Protégé. This is a small runabout that is fun to drive. It is a bit noisy inside in particular at highway speeds. The suspension is a little bouncy, but comfortable enough. Space in the front is adequate and tight in the rear seats. The trunk is big enough for a grocery-getter. The outside rear view mirrors a little too small. It is powerful enough to keep up with traffic, but a heavy load will keep you in the slow lane or force you to run high RPMs.
I just bought this car end of July, 09 with 147000 miles on the clock. It will save me some gas vs. the mini van and my boys can learn driving the stick shift and how to maintain a vehicle. I plan to do everything myself with their help.
The interior looked impeccable. In the trunk there was a tote with car wax, tow strap, jumper cables, spare fuses and a fancy spray nozzle for the garden hose that said about the previous owner: “I loved my Protégé!”
I liked its features: AC, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, stereo, 5 speed manual, cloth seats, tachometer, 2 air bags, interval wipers. That is just enough stuff to make our commutes and runs enjoyable.
The exterior was looking fine with only some rust around the rear wheel wells and on the underside. They put salt on the roads in Iowa.
It runs almost like new (I used to have a 323). The clutch feels fine, and the shifts are “scratch free”. There is just a little noise from the front end over bumps most likely caused be worn sway bar links.
The AC appeared to be completely discharged. I filled it with refrigerant. Now it works just fine.
I have changed the air filter, looked at the spark plugs and gaped them properly, checked the resistance of the injectors (11, 11, 11, 12 Ohms). Three of them are just below specification. I cleaned the MAF sensor, checked the intake hose for vacuum leaks and was getting ready to check the O2 sensor. Now the Check Engine Light went off.
Fuel economy has improved from 33.8 mpg with the first tank to 35 mpg with the third tank of gas (at least 60% highway, AC on). I use regular unleaded with a shot of Lucas Oil Fuel Treatment. Maybe I burned off carbon deposits.
When I looked at the spare tire I found lots of road dust in the trunk under the carpet. I could also see where it came from: there were two plugs missing at the wheel wells. I cleaned the trunk area and plugged the holes with foam package material.
What’s left to do? Change brake fluid, 2 new tires, sway bar links, seat belt, CD player, keep spraying the trunk lock. I also think of sound dampening that little tin can of a car.
Like the previous owner, I love my Protégé!
I will update this review occasionally.