2003 Mazda Protege DX Consumer Reviews | Edmunds
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2003 Mazda Protege - Consumer Reviews

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2003 Protege Consumer Reviews

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Wow, this car is fun to drive!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By delrey
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

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.


Favorite Features

Handling, steering, and road feel. Strong brakes. Auto transmission is smooth. Nice interior for the class.


Suggested Improvements

Excessive rust for the age. Buzzy and loud engine. Highway mileage suffers due to high rpms at interstate speeds. Radio sound quality is poor. Tight and responsive suspension creates harsh ride and requires excessive repair.


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Don't Get One
1 of 9 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By historiker33
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

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


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Mazdas worst car.
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By thejackal86
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege DX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

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.


Favorite Features

Acceleration and responsive handling Interior space


Suggested Improvements

Mpg Reliability Interior quality


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Best Car I have owned
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By mazdafan8
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege DX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I love my Mazda. I bought it used in 2004 with 25,000 miles on it. It now has 88,000 miles. I have only replaced brake pads, tires and one hose in addition to oil changes. My engine runs flawlessly. I get better than rated mileage. She handles great for a sub-compact. Has road feel instead of the numb feedback of a Toyota. The stick is smooth with shifts. Seats are comfortable. I will keep it until it dies since it has no resell value. I hope to get at least another two years.


Favorite Features

Road feel, handling, reliability.


Suggested Improvements

It is not a quiet car. Lots of road noise. It is rusting at the bottom of the doors an wheel wells.


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Never Again!
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By elyarne7
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I bought this car with 29,000 miles on it. That was 3 years ago. It now has 90,000 miles on it. It has only had problem after problem - battery, multiple wheel bearings, tire links, brakes, alternator. The alignment is easily messed up. The car is not well made - it's cheap, lightweight and already starting to rust. It's a money pit. Do not buy it! Oh, and my Mazda is the automatic, not 5-speed standard.


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2003 protege nightmare
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By scott
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I bought this car with 15 miles on it. I've put alot of miles on it. currently i have just under 141, 000. I've had to have the front bearing replaced 4 times! on each side. i've had the alternator replaced twice. i've changes the oil tank because it actually rusted through, as well as the front exhaust at the intake manifold. i've changed both the oxygen sensor and the speed sensor. I've also changed the radiator twice. this is a car i've changed the oil and other scheduled maintained every 3-4k miles on it! I can;t believe it got this good of a reliability rating on Edmunds because mine has been a nightmare. plus mine is currently rusting to crap.....what happened?


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Poor MPG
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By John
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I bought this car with 53000Miles on this car in 2008 and ever since it's had all four brakes(Everything) replaced,4 stabilizer bars,5 struts,belts twice,timing belt,Sparkplugs and wires,4 tires at $280 each and I rust proof and do oil changes with synthetic every 3000 Miles and am getting 14MPG and the A/C barely works and the fan makes loud noises and have gone way over what I thought was a reliable car that should at least get 20 MPG. I forgot the car is bad too because if you drive alot you will be very tired od hitting potholes and trying to merge onto highways with the automatic.


Favorite Features

Handling


Suggested Improvements

Everything,Don't Bring it back.


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I Love My "New" Mazda
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By alooknac
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I have owned a 1989 Mazda 323 hatchback and a 1994 Protege sedan. Most recently I was driving a 2006 Subaru Forester. I sold it and bought this Mazda Protege ES sedan with only 64,000 miles on it, same as my Subaru. I missed having a 5 speed and I did not like antilock brakes when they were put to the test on ice. I love my "new" car. It is fun to drive and it is very nimble compared to the Forester. Of course I gave up some cargo space but not much else. I get better gas mileage. I am averaging 29+ mpg with mixed driving. I am curious to see what I will get n pure highway driving when I go on a road trip.


Favorite Features

I really do smile sometimes driving it. I never felt that way about a car before! I feel safer in this car than my Subaru because I know how it will react and drive. I can shift better than any automatic and I know when and how to pump my brakes. I don't want a car that second-guesses me.


Suggested Improvements

Wish it had better gas mileage but I did a comparison with paying more to purchase a Corolla or Civic and projecting different gas prices and it's basically a wash. It's hard to find these models with 5-speed anymore so I'll just keep this one. I'm sure I'm losing mpg because of the better power.


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Best car I have owned, hate to see it go
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Peter
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

I have owned the Mazda Protege LX for seven years now, I purchased the vehicle in 2004 with only 20k for the mileage and I currently have over 195K on the vehicle now. Besides normal wear and tear parts that you expect to wear out, I haven't put more than like $100.00 into this vehicle. I always changed my oil regularly and did other minimal scheduled maintenance like filters, plugs, trans fluid, etc....and this vehicle owes me nothing. The gas mileage was good, I was getting about 28mpg on the highway and about 22 to 24mpg city depending on how fast I was driving. I also put sporty aggressive tires on it and it greatly improved the driveablitity, I put the Yokahoma "S" Drive tire on


Favorite Features

Very comfortable, very reliable I beat the crap out of thgis car and drove it all over the country, easy and fun to drive,good gas mileage, good interior space I am 6'1" and fit just fine. Very safe car I just got into an accident that unfortunately totaled out my Protege but I am fine.


Suggested Improvements

I had a brake issue where the brake calipers would stay pressed against the pads and wear them out faster and make a grinding noise, issue fixed cause it needed manufacturers parts. Needs better stock tires doesn't drive as good with cheap stock tires


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I wish I could buy this car again new.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Bornaleo819
on

Vehicle

2003 Mazda Protege ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)


Review

My brother passed this car on to me in 2005 after my car was totaled in an accident & he wanted to get a new BMW. He has regretted that decision ever since. I still have it today in 2010 & he has gone through about 3-4 cars still trying to find the right one. This car is reliable, does really well with gas, has good power acceleration to it, is comfortable and besides normal wear & tear with tires, the only thing that happened was a leak with the radiator & in the air intake hose there was a hole. I replaced both parts & runs like brand freaking new. Unfortunately, I have a small daughter so this car can feel tight sometimes but this is a car you will not regret getting. She's a beaut.


Favorite Features

Reliable, barely any mechanical issues, inexpensive parts, great gas mileage, decent trunk space.


Suggested Improvements

More roof space would be great if you have kids, child lock on the doors needed, sunroof would be pretty cool, tinting is mandatory-car can get pretty hot.


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