2003 Mazda Protege Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Mazda Protege Sedan


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Mazda Protege Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 130 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Mazda Protege

  • When it comes to small, snappy sedans, the Protege is a tough act to beat.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Tight suspension, powerful brakes, superb steering feel, comfortable seats, attractive exterior styling.

  • Cons

    Suspension may be too stiff for some buyers, mediocre horsepower output given the handling capabilities of the car.

  • What's New for 2003

    Minor changes limited to feature content are in store for Mazda's economy sedan. The DX trim gets a CD player as standard equipment,…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (141 total reviews)

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Wow, this car is fun

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

This car is a lot of fun to drive. The handling, steering, and road feel are top notch for this car, especially for this class. It puts some newer and more expensive cars to shame. With that said, the car wasn't perfect. The best gas mileage I could get was 28MPG. Despite regular detailing, the car had a decent amount of rust. I went through front wheel bearings like crazy and I had to replace my front struts twice within the 130,000 miles of ownership. Interior is rather nice for the year but the radio is quite weak. A fun car to drive with minor flaws.

Don't get one

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

In 2 years, Ive gone through: 2 wheel bearings Front axle alternator Seat belt $900 valve job Heres the bad thing, and BE ADVISED: A valve job on these cars will often result in the piston rings going bad; this happened to me. There is no easy fix for this - the car needs a new engine and smokes like crazy. The newest versions of these cars are now 13 years old. Do not buy one

Mazdas worst car.

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Mazda Protege DX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

The transmission went out early on, which started a chain reaction of other problems months to follow. This car was nothing more than a money pit and certainly not one worth investing in. I've replaced just about everything in the car besides the engine, which I hear is something Mazda actually does fairly well. I ended up finally trading the car in at around 153k miles. It seems like a lot, but not considering maintenance costs. In addition to the reliability issues, the interior was cheap and started to literally fall apart. Poor mpg as well. The only positive thing I can say about the car is that it was kind of fun to drive and had nice acceleration. It felt like a go-kart.

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Mazda Protege Review

What's New for 2003

Minor changes limited to feature content are in store for Mazda's economy sedan. The DX trim gets a CD player as standard equipment, while air conditioning is offered as a stand-alone option. The LX trim receives 15-inch wheels as standard. Last year's premium packages for the LX and ES have been discontinued, but you can still get the sunroof, side airbags and antilock brakes as options.

Talk About The 2003 Protege

2003 Mazda Protege Discussions See all Started By


I recently painted the a/c lines in the hood as its rusted. After 3 days the a/c won't work at fan 1-3 but switch is lighted on. But when at fan No. 4, fan would work but no cool air and switch is no?...

After noticing rust on my 2003 Mazda Protege 5 I did some searching and discovered that rust is really a problem on these cars. I think we need to have a place that everyone can voice their disgust....


Read more about the 2003 Mazda Protege